This Week In Comedy: Dark Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs, Joe Avati, Comedy Uncovered, and Superstars of Comedy
Over the next seven days, our fair city will play host to everyone from Goat Boy to the Italian Jerry Seinfeld. Ever heard of a GPS featuring the voice of Joe Pesci? No? Follow me as I walk you through This Week In Comedy.
WED OCT 31 - SAT NOV 10 / DARK COMEDY FESTIVAL / VARIOUS LOCATIONS / FESTIVAL PASS $69.99
Fresh on the heels of Just For Laughs, we now have the Dark Comedy Festival, headlined with Maria Bamford, Jim Norton, and Eddie Pepitone. A festival pass ensures that you get premium seating for Bamford and Pepitone, as well as access to every other show on the schedule. When I first started out as a comic, I didn't like the idea of dark comedy, which I thought was just a bunch of comedians going through the rape, abortion, suicide, and paedophilia obstacle course, yelling and swearing all the while. I've learned that the best dark comics let you see the world through the lens of their microscope, and often have the audience laughing at them and their take on the subject, rather than the subject/victim.
FRI NOV 9 / JUST FOR LAUGHS TOUR / MASSEY HALL / 178 VICTORIA / 730PM / $36-56
The Just For Laughs tour makes a stop at Massey Hall this week. Your acts include Debra DiGiovanni, John Heffron, Godfrey, Jim Breuer, and The Improvisers...now that's what I call a line-up. As an SNL fanatic (1987-2002ish, anyways), Jim Breuer's my personal favourite on the bill. Whether he's telling a story about Norm Macdonald, bleating like a goat, or simply giggling, I can't help but get swept up in his childlike enthusiasm.
FRI NOV 9 & SAT NOV 10 / JOE AVATI / TORONTO CENTRE FOR THE ARTS / 5040 YONGE / VARIOUS TIMES / $72
He's been called the Italian Seinfeld, but what you may not know is that Joe's Live and Unpluggato was the number one selling comedy album in Canada for a year and a half back in 2000. What's remarkable about all of the great stand-ups is true for Joe: though I've never lived where he's lived, met who he's met, or experienced what he's experienced, he compels me to understand the world from his point of view, and see exactly why he finds it funny.
FRI NOV 9 / COMEDY UNCOVERED LIVE / The LOT / 100 OSSINGTON / 930PM / $10 ADV $12 DOOR
Taylor Erwin, who runs the Toronto Comedy hub, Comedy Uncovered, has put together an awesome line-up headlined by one of my favourites, Monty Scott. I've seen comedians raise audiences into a fervour based on an assault of jokes, crowd work, and acting--that's rare, but I've seen it. What sets Monty apart is that he'll have the audience roaring...but then stop, take a sip of his beer, let the audience settle down, and then dive into another joke that kicks off another applause break. In a world full of copycats, Monty Scott's a truly unique comedian. Heck, the guy won the award for 'Best Joke' at an awards show run by comics.
SAT NOV 10 / SUPERSTARS OF COMEDY / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 10PM & MIDNIGHT / $10 ADV $12 DOOR
Ben (your headliner) takes the stage and improvises a few jokes based on the act before him--a classic move used by most professionals. Then, he starts working the crowd. After settling into his material, he notices an awkward pairing of running shoes and dress socks in the front row and says, "man, if I didn't know what day it was, but saw your socks, I would know it was a Saturday night." Crowd is dying. He goes back into his material, and casually refers back to the dress socks joke, and there you have it: an improvised callback to a joke that originated from crowd work. Ben Miner, ladies and gentlemen, is a stud.
About the Author: This is Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third-person. My blog, Diary of a Stand-up Comedian, teaches you how to be - and how not to be - a comedian in Toronto.