Upcoming Canadian comedy festivals you'll want to save the date for
This year we will be following Canadian comedy closely, including rising stars, innovative new shows and podcasts and, of course, comedy festivals. With JFL42 and Big City Improv Fest not happening until the fall, here are some springtime comedy festivals that will have you laughing until you cry.
HubCap Comedy Festival (Feb. 3-7, various venues in Moncton, New Brunswick)
Image: HubCap Comedy Festival
The 15th annual HubCap Comedy Festival will bring some of Canada's funniest performers to Moncton. This year the festival's theme is "Night of the Laughing Dead" and will showcase some of the best English and French stand-up comedians. New Brunswick probably isn't the first place you'd think of as a comedy destination, but this festival rivals any other in the country. A bunch of killer women comics will be featured, and we're especially excited about heavyweights of hilarity Elvira Kurt and Nikki Payne.
Globehead 2015 (Feb. 6-28, Bad Dog Theatre, Toronto, Ontario)
Less of a festival and more of a tournament, this event will see some of Toronto's best improv troupes face off through the month of February. The series features a number of Canadian Comedy Award winners and nominees and is always a lot of fun. This is the tournament your improv teachers will dominate. Hosted at Comedy Bar's sister venue, the super-intimate Bad Dog Theatre, this is the perfect series to bring a date to. Grab a drink, and prepare to be amazed by how quickly great improvisers can create a joke out of thin air.
SheDot (April 30-May 3, Comedy Bar, Toronto, Ontario)
When my comedy partner Adele and I heard about this new female-centric festival last year, we submitted immediately. I'm a little biased, because we were lucky enough to participate, performing, attending panels and meeting an incredible group of funny, driven women. Stepping into Comedy Bar on the first day of the festival was magical. Everything was hot pink, there were cupcakes with our performers' passes and an episode of Gilmore Girls replaced sports on the TVs in the bar. I'm not sure if that last part was even intentional, but I've never felt more at home in a comedy venue. The fest features female comedians in a number of formats (sketch, improv, stand-up, storytelling) and was founded by four Toronto-based comedians who felt the women in their community needed a better outlet to showcase their talents.
We spoke with co-founder Martha O'Neill about the inception and continuation of SheDot.
"The festival was created to celebrate women in comedy. Our 2014 inaugural festival was a huge undertaking and a bit of a gamble, but did it ever pay off. We had sellout show after sellout show, and the audiences and critics were nothing but positive. We are currently putting together the 2015 festival and are already so excited about it. There are so many funny women out there, and we're thrilled to give them an opportunity to shine."
If you think you have what it takes to crack up an audience, submissions are still open (until Jan. 23). This is the second year SheDot will run, and we seriously can't get enough of this amazing, empowering festival.
Halifax Comedy Fest (April 22-25, various venues in Halifax, Nova Scotia)
The Halifax Comedy Fest is another east coast festival that will bring comedians from across the country to Halifax for a short, four-day festival. Four of the five headliners have already been announced, and although we're excited about comedy veterans like Harland Williams and Mark Critch, we're disappointed there isn't a single female headliner yet. With more details and performers being announced in the next few months, we're really hoping the final, unannounced headliner will be a hilarious lady, because this country is full of them.
Toronto Sketch Fest (March 5-15, various venues in Toronto, Ontario)
Celebrating its 10th year, this is a massive comedy festival in which sketch comedians come from all over the world to perform. A few of the headliners have been announced, including a solo show from the incomparable Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live. This year's lineup will be ridiculously good, with a smattering of sketch troupes, from absurd duos to pun-loving trios. If you love shows like SNL, Kids in the Hall and SCTV, then this is the fest for you. Here is a cute and quirky video from a Toronto Sketch Fest favorite Peter n' Chris.
If you can't wait until March to get your sketch on, there is a special public fundraiser happening Jan. 21.