Canadian Comedy at the Just For Laughs Festival Sassy Jo July 27, 2019 Comedy, Reviews I’ve been at Just for Laughs all week soaking up the Canadian shows I can. I started with a Comedy Pro Panel – Comedy in Canada: What’s the Deal? The panel consisted of: Michelle Daly (Senior Director of Comedy, CBC Scripted Content) Sarah Fowlie (Director of Original Programming, Bell Media) Adam Growe (Comedian, Co-Founder, CASC) Dave Merheje (Comedian) It was moderated by Andrew Barnsley (CEO, Project 10 Productions) The chat started off with everyone’s outlook on the Canadian comedy scene and what they thought needed to happen to produce more Canadian Content. All panelist agreed that more funding is necessary to be able to make more Canadian comedy content. That’s where CANCOM really makes sense. Adam Growe, Executive Board Member of CASC, had come up with one way on how we can create more funding for comedy: CANCOM. The Foundation for Canadian Comedy (CANCOM) is a foundation established to create Canadian comedy content, including audio, video, live performance, and artist/community development programming. est. April 2019. Its mission is to create an economic and development infrastructure for independent professional comedians that will benefit all relevant stakeholders in the creation, production, publishing, presenting, broadcasting, and distribution of Canadian comedy content. Positioning the comedy industry as the economic driver, CANCOM will strengthen the legacy, profitability, and competitiveness of the Canadian comedy industry domestically and abroad. Another good point that was brought up was the Canadian audience. Yes, that’s right I’m talking to you Canada! The consumers of comedy do not realize that by watching more American comedy and THINKING that American comedy is funnier than Canadian you are actually pushing Canadian content away. Canadians need to realize that our way of doing stand-up comedy has been exported, copied and shadowed by our neighboring giants and unfortunately, our Canadian broadcasters are not helping the situation. They tell us to go to America and make content because it’s cheaper to purchase it than to actually make Canadian content. Crazy right? Dave Merheje said: “If you take any comic name and put New York next to it – Canadians are like ‘Yeah, he must be really good’ but if you put the same name and put Winnipeg, the reaction is like ‘yeah, don’t think so’. We have to educate the audience more.” This needs to change and it starts with you people, the audience. The Just For Laughs Festival has been working with CASC to try and start this change. This year, NEW FACES CANADA was added as an effort to show The Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians that are trying to spotlight more Canadian talent at the festival. Why this show is such a big deal is that the NEW FACE brand is where people like Kevin Hart and Amy Schumer were found. It’s amazing to give our Canadian talent the same chances at being discovered as the Americans comedians. I checked out the first show at Monument Nationale and I’m so proud of our Canadian talent. Hosted by Ivan Decker, the line up featured acts from all across Canada: Bee Bertrand, Brett Forte, Cassie Cao, Charles Haycock, Hisham Kelati, Leonard Chan, Rebecca Reeds, Rob Bebenek, Tranna Wintour, and Yumi Nagashima. I have to give big props to Brett Forte who took the bullet and definitely set the night off on the right track. Not an easy task to do and he did with perfectly. Charles Haycock took a subject like windows and made art. You’ll never look at a window the same way again. Beautiful. Hisham Kelati closed down that show with a big bang! Congrats to you all for making history with this show. And how can I forget Yumi Nagashima. Her play on the Japanese sweet girl combined with our Canadian culture and a dash of dirty on top was a pleasure to see. I have to say, without a doubt, Rob Bebenek killed that show. His experience showed as he dominated the stage with presence, material and delivery. He had the audience laughing the hole time. See the other steps Just For Laughs has taken to make Canadian Comedians more of a spotlight and stay tuned for some more reviews! Keep on laughing Montreal.