A laugh with Trevor Noah, a new season of Schitt’s Creek and five other things to see and do in Toronto this week
A night with the king of comedy
1It takes an exceptional comedian to turn a traumatic childhood into a funny story, but that’s just how Trevor Noah operates. He was born in apartheid-era Johannesburg, and one of his earliest memories is of his mother tossing him out of a moving minibus on their way home from church. The driver was zigzagging across the road at full speed while yelling profanities, and she thought he might try to kill them. When Noah talks about it today, he laughs. As the host of The Daily Show, he uses his experiences growing up in a racially divided country to illustrate the current political climate of North America. While politics fuelled his stand-up material for years, his live shows go beyond Trump jokes to focus on the subjects he probed long before his days on The Daily Show, from racism to pop culture and all the oddities of everyday life in between. Saturday, January 11 and 12. $71–$109. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
A theatrical catastrophe
2When Star Wars director J.J. Abrams saw the zany British comedy The Play That Goes Wrong during its 2014 run on London’s West End, he loved it so much that he decided to bring it to Broadway. Now, Toronto audiences get a chance to see why. Created by the aptly named Mischief Theatre, the show is a breakneck farce about an amateur theatre troupe whose efforts to stage a 1920s murder mystery result in disaster. Expect brutally mangled dialogue, unconvincing corpses and stubborn scenery with a life of its own. $29–$149. Opens Tuesday, January 8. Ed Mirvish Theatre.
The return of the Kim family
3Adapted from Ins Choi’s award-winning 2011 play of the same name, Kim’s Convenience, now in its third season, has set a new standard for multicultural representation on TV. From parents perplexed by their kids’ choices to siblings who struggle with the pressures of growing up as first-generation Canadians, the characters are far from ethnic stereotypes. Instead, its themes are universal, from forgiveness within families to the gentrification of city spaces like Regent Park. And, amazingly, the show tackles it all while remaining genuinely funny. Season three premieres Tuesday, January 8. CBC.
An extraterrestrial adventure
4Actor Damien Atkins (who played Sherlock Holmes at last year’s Shaw Festival) turns his magnifying glass to UFOs, crop circles and alien abductions in his new one-man show, We Are Not Alone. Armed with plenty of research and an open mind, he takes his audience on a journey that includes testimonies from the eccentric folks at a UFO convention and thoughts from the late Stephen Hawking. The result is a contemplative and amusing glimpse into some of the most peculiar mysteries of the universe. Opens Monday, January 7. $25–$50. Streetcar Crowsnest.
A new season of Schitt’s Creek
5The creative minds behind Schitt’s Creek, Eugene and Dan Levy, have carved out an approach to comedy that’s quirky and distinctly Canadian without being corny. In the four years since its CBC premiere, the sitcom has joined the ranks of Canada’s best TV shows and become a broadcast staple in the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. Last season, the program reached an emotional peak when a complex and surprisingly tender relationship developed between David Rose (Dan Levy) and Patrick Brewer (Noah Reid). For season five, expect the same zany humour, but with more touching moments as the Rose family tries to navigate love, motels and small-town life. Tuesday, January 8. CBC.
An onstage #MeToo story
6Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre brings a #MeToo story to the stage with Grace, about a young woman who was sexually abused as a child. Written by a family member of the protagonist (who uses the pseudonym Jane Doe to protect her identity), Grace follows the family’s search for justice as they become embroiled in the legal system, revealing the pitfalls of sexual assault cases and the trauma experienced by survivors and their loved ones. Opens Tuesday, January 8. $30–$40. Streetcar Crowsnest.
A theatre fest and all the rest
7Next Stage Theatre Festival’s annual showcase mixes the best of the Fringe Festival with promising new works from up-and-coming theatre pros. On this year’s lineup: Lucky, a drama inspired by the real-life case of Jennifer Pan, the Vietnamese-Canadian student from Markham who made headlines when she hired hitmen to kill her mother and father in 2010; Foreign Tongue, a comedy about a woman who emerges from a coma and finds herself unable to stop speaking with a thick Russian accent; and Strange and Unusual, a one-man theatre-meets-magic show. Thursday, January 10 to Sunday, January 20. $15. Various locations.