The nine funniest stand-up acts in Toronto right now
Smith is used to talking to strangers—after college, she spent time as part of an outreach program on the streets of Baltimore, handing out clean needles and condoms. In the aughts, the New York–born comic transferred that fearlessness to the comedy club, where she flirted with audience members and gave them lap dances as part of her set. Her act really blew up on her 2008 tour of Australia: her jokes energetically lampooned hipsterdom, lesbianism and her own early-Bieber-esque ’do. Since then, she’s performed on Last Comic Standing and the Late Late Show, collaborated with Morgan Spurlock and settled down in Toronto, where she’s a JFL42 regular.
For fans of: Ellen DeGeneres, Cameron Esposito
As an optimist, I think the glass is half full. As a feminist, I think the glass is half ceiling.
— DeAnne Smith (@DeAnne_Smith) March 30, 2016
Ladies, if you want to avoid unwanted male* attention, do what I do! Dress like a little boy.
*doesn't work for clergy or Republicans
— DeAnne Smith (@DeAnne_Smith) April 29, 2016
I realized I'm too hard on myself. My immediate next thought was "I should have figured this out years ago! I'm such a fucking idiot."
— DeAnne Smith (@DeAnne_Smith) April 26, 2016
Retiring was the best thing to happen to Forward: a year after vowing to quit stand-up in 2010, the comic was cast as a psychotic librarian on CBC’s Mr. D and invited to perform on Craig Ferguson’s show. He went on to play the irate coach on hoser sitcom Letterkenny for three seasons and to host his popular, recently wrapped eponymous podcast. This month, he’s slated to perform at JFL42—expect grim jokes with a perfect, deadpan delivery.
For fans of: Louis CK, Zach Galifianakis
One of my headphones is broken, all I'm getting is Garfunkel.
— Mark Forward (@MarkForwardd) September 3, 2016
I miss my dad everyday. One of these days I'll hit him.
— Mark Forward (@MarkForwardd) August 22, 2016
This might almost sound racist
— Mark Forward (@MarkForwardd) August 4, 2016
On Degrassi, Alfa plays the composed, put-together Ms. Grell. Onstage, she is just the opposite: frantic and fierce, ripping into MCs for botching the pronunciation of her name, breaking down the complexities of growing up in a mixed-race family and detailing her miserable dating life as a very sweaty woman. Her lewd jokes have landed her gigs with and Air Farce.
For fans of: Chris Rock, Ali Wong
— Aisha Alfa (@aishaalfa) June 17, 2016
Is there anything in fact that is easier done than said? #AskingForAFriend
— Aisha Alfa (@aishaalfa) May 12, 2016
I'm great at meditating, and by meditating I mean laying in bed in the morning staring at photos on my phone. #zen
— Aisha Alfa (@aishaalfa) January 23, 2016
The Raunch Queen
The East York–raised jokester teases comedy out of confrontation: she’s gritty and combative onstage and just as ferocious off (she nearly started a bar fight after her first open mike). She’s one-half of the raunchy sketch duo Ladystache, and, last year, she won the Canadian Comedy Award for best female stand-up comic with her unapologetic stories about awkward sex, serving wings and single life. This year, she’s trying her luck in L.A.
For fans of: Amy Schumer, Chelsea Peretti
Just tried to masterbate with crest white strips on. I know what murderers feel like now.
— Steph Tolev (@StephTolev) April 19, 2016
People keep mentioning this "other" inbox on FB where they get all creepy messages. Mines empty. Even the creeps are like "nawww".
— Steph Tolev (@StephTolev) April 4, 2016
Found a teenage carrot in a bag of baby carrots and it ruined the whole thing for me.
— Steph Tolev (@StephTolev) September 18, 2016
Often called the Broken Social Scene of Canadian comedy, Get Some is a mishmash of nearly a dozen zany personalities pulled from the country’s worthiest troupes: Picnicface, Tony Ho, Second City, Sketchersons and the cast of 22 Minutes. Their delightfully absurd sketches pit Charlie Chaplin against his clone, pick on the rapper Pitbull and consider the after-effects of being bitten by a werebaby.
For fans of: Monty Python, Peter n’ Chris
I've got some good news and some Brad news. Good news is, there's no bad news. Brad news is, Brad is dead.
— Laura Cilevitz (@lauracilevitz) October 30, 2015
First rule of Talk Club ; don't fight about Talk Club
— Chris Wilson (@ImChrisWilson) June 19, 2016
can a fleetwood mac cover band get away with playing terribly if they call themselves fleetwood whack?
— alex tindal (@alextindal) May 22, 2016
This shape-shifting troupe stages Sunday Night Live, a weekly variety show as outrageously hilarious as its N.Y.C. namesake—albeit with a Canuck twist (sample sketch: “Stephen Harper’s Day Off”). Alumni like Nikki Payne have graduated from the Comedy Bar staple to Second City revues and the screen, and 12 years of hosts include Tatiana Maslany, former mayor David Miller and almost every comic on this page.
For fans of: Saturday Night Live, SCTV
Nothing quite like listening to iTunes on shuffle and coming across a rap you wrote for @thesketchersons in character as a Quebecoise carrot
— Jocelyn Geddie (@jocelyngeddie) June 27, 2016
Everybody got mad when a guy live-streamed his wife giving birth on Facebook, but he says she pushed for it
— Joel Buxton (@JoelBuxton) July 8, 2016
An app like Shazam, but to tell if you're watching Emily Blunt, Emily Browning, Emily Mortimer, Emma Watson, or Samantha Morton in a movie.
— Jeremy Woodcock (@jwPencilAndPad) July 7, 2016
Growing up in Windsor, Merheje performed living-room sketches with his sister and cousin; by the time he was 14, he knew he was destined for comedy. He found his voice a decade later while visiting L.A., where he was mugged at gunpoint. The traumatic experience inspired him to ditch convention and perform his act as an exhilarating, fast-paced rant about what he knew best—street life, his Lebanese family and club culture.
For fans of: Maz Jobrani, Richard Pryor
This lady just bought a hot dog on the Amtrak. Not sure if she is fucked or ground breaking.
— Dave Merheje (@DaveMerheje) April 15, 2016
The Double Whammy
The Templeton Philharmonic
Briana Templeton and Gwynne Phillips performed in a few plays together while studying drama at U of T before teaming up for a Fringe Fest show in 2011. Since then, they’ve inhabited dozens of goofy characters—snooty high-society women, ditzy southern belles, salad-obsessed health nuts—in online shorts for Funny or Die and CBC Comedy, and onstage at Chris Hadfield’s Generator variety show.
For fans of: Second City, Catherine O’Hara
Why the CN Tower's "Climb It" event for nature isn't called the "Climb It For Climate" I'll never know.
— Gwynne Phillips (@Gwynne_Phillips) March 19, 2016
#CondimentAFilm Catsup Me If You Can
— Templeton (@TempletonPhil) April 10, 2015
Hey, "Bawled like a baby" and "Bald like a baby" are the same. Fun!
— Gwynne Phillips (@Gwynne_Phillips) June 18, 2016
The Sharp-Tongued Stand-Up
Kohler has skewered musicians on Video on Trial, written for a trio of CBC shows (22 Minutes, Ron James and The Debaters) and made festival audiences squirm in their seats since 2000. Her comedy is a stylish and sly mix of what might, in another comic register, be merely crass and graphic; her jokes are set inside abortion clinics and sex shops, and her punchlines prey on bigots and oblivious audience members.
For fans of: Sarah Silverman, Janeane Garofalo
Sometimes I look at porn so that when I die, my browser history won't just be of me googling "Golden Girls reunion". #porn
— Rebecca Kohler (@becca_kohler) May 15, 2016
People who say "make yourself at home" are really just very lazy hosts.
— Rebecca Kohler (@becca_kohler) July 27, 2015