Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

5 shows to see at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

The seventh annual Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival kicks off on November 8th, bringing together troupes from across the country for a six-night run. With over 40 acts performing at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Comedy Bar and The Second City, the festival also includes a free behind-the-scenes series and workshops for aspiring comics. To help you narrow it down, here are some of the best bets of the festival.

Picnicface (The Second City, Nov. 11, 11:00 p.m. and Lower Ossington Theatre, Nov. 12, 10:00 p.m. with Peter 'n Chris)
This headlining Halifax-based troupe is offbeat and in-your-face. In much thanks to their YouTube success and praise from Will Ferrell, they recently premiered a sketch TV series on The Comedy Network, executed produced by The Kids in the Hall alum Mark McKinney. The troupe also takes the stage for one night with duo Peter 'n Chris, nominees for the Just for Laughs Best Comedy award at the Montreal Fringe festival.

Two Kids One Hall (Lower Ossington Theatre, Nov. 10, 8:00 p.m.)
Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald team up for mix of stand-up and solo pieces, despite being most known for their sketches on popular TV sketch show The Kids in the Hall. The duo had been touring the States before making their stop to headline the festival. McDonald also hosts one of the festival's workshops on sketch writing.

The Imponderables (Lower Ossington Theatre, Nov. 10, 10:00 p.m. with Vest of Friends and Inside Joke Films)
This quirky, absurdist local troupe headlined The Second City main stage in 2004, was named one of Variety's "10 Comics to Watch" in 2010 and were nominated for a Gemini Award. They've also recently shot a pilot with MTV in the States for a new TV series. They join New York-based parodic duo Inside Joke Films.

National Theatre of the World (Lower Ossington Theatre, Nov. 9, 8:00 p.m. with Shoeless and She Said What)
This critically-acclaimed, not-for-profit troupe is best known for staging their acts in the styles of famous playwrights and novelists, like Tennessee Williams and J. D. Salinger, without satirizing them. The trio take the stage with local acts Shoeless and She Said What.

This is That (Lower Ossington Theatre, Nov. 12, 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.)
Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, the voices behind CBC's improv faux-current affairs show This is That, take listeners behind the scenes for a look at how their mockumentary-style act is put together. They also plan to play some of their best listener phone calls that weren't fit to air. The duo previously also created Comedy Network's satirized morning show Good Morning World.

The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival runs November 8 to 13. Individual tickets $15-20 available online or at the door. $40 4-show passes also available.

Writing by Michelle Medford. Photo from the Picnicface web site.

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