Toronto comedy shows worth knowing about in January 2014.
Good news? Power's back on. Bad news? The holidays have left you broke. Don't worry: we have a great line-up of shows that won't put a dent in the new wallet you just got. Follow me as I walk you through the month in comedy...
THURS JAN 2 - SUN JAN 5 / JOHN HASTINGS / YUK YUK'S / 224 RICHMOND W / 8PM / $11-20
It makes my heart happy to see that John Hastings is back in town from the UK. The last time I saw him was at his Edinburgh Fringe Fest preview show, where he killed from bell to bell. I'm always impressed by guys that are committed to writing new material on a regular basis. It shows a respect and commitment to the craft that rarely gets acknowledged. Check out the way he handles the heckler at the start of his set; it doesn't get any better than that.
THURS JAN 2 - SAT JAN 5 / SKETCHERSONS / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 8PM & 9PM / $2 ADV $10 DOOR
Sometimes you go to a comedy show and pick up a sense of community from the people in the audience. That's what I felt when I went to The Sketchersons' Sunday Night Live. To commemorate their tenth anniversary, they're putting on a slew of performances where they'll be reviving audience favourites from the past decade. Oh yeah, and your ticket is good for both the 8pm and the 9pm show!
SAT JAN 11 / JAMES ADOMIAN / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 9PM & 1030PM / $20
James has a resume many comedians would kill for. NBC's Last Comic Standing, MADtv, Jimmy Kimmel...hell, he even had a couple of sold-out shows in Seoul! What impresses me even more is that he's an alumnus of the Sunday Company at The Groundlings Theatre, which has produced household names like Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. This pedigree means that he has the ability to act, improvise, and perform stand-up at a high level. Oh yeah, and in the clip above, he`s doing an awesome joke about Game of Thrones in which he mentions Kenneth Branaugh, which is pretty badass.
THURS JAN 16 / RON WHITE / MASSEY HALL / 178 VICTORIA / 8PM / $47-77
Ron's garnered two Grammy nods and his discography has gone ten times Platinum. Wowzers. Even if you're not a fan of his southern material and demeanour, you can't knock that kind of hustle. He rose to prominence during The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, which featured acts like Jeff Foxworthy. Toronto comedy buffs that enjoy Canadian acts might find his brand of humour alien, but they wouldn't be charging upwards of $77 a ticket if he didn't have a following.
SAT JAN 18 / COMEDY UNCOVERED LIVE / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 10PM / $10 ADV $12 DOOR
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more hardcore comedy enthusiast in Toronto than Taylor Erwin, and that's what makes his shows so great. While most producers have an intimate knowledge of stand-up, improv, or sketch, Taylor has his feelers in all three arenae. The result? A wonderfully curated hour and a half that few promoters can match.
THURS JAN 23 / CRAIG FERGUSON / MASSEY HALL / 178 VICTORIA / 7PM / $58-78
I don't like many talk shows, mainly because they try to convince me that I'm watching two people having a spontaneous conversation. That said, I like Craig. He brings a refreshingly honest perspective to the game that I haven't seen in a long time. What impressed me was his ability to hold his own in a conversation with the beautifully schizophrenic Robin Williams. What impressed me even more was the monologue he delivered about his battle with alcoholism.
FRI JAN 24 / DEBRA DIGIVIONNI / WINTER GARDEN THEATRE / 189 YONGE / 7PM / $50
Debra's followed the career path of many successful touring comics from Toronto. A graduate of Humber's Comedy program, she went on to compete for the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund, win the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Stand-up, and tape a Comedy Now Special for CTV back when that still meant something. Appearances on CBC, MuchMusic, Canadian Idol, and even Last Comic Standing followed. She's one of a select few Toronto stand-ups that performs her own theatre shows - no easy feat.
FRI JAN 24 / BEERPROV - THE MAIN EVENT / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 1030PM / $15
Beer and improv - need I say more? Armed with audience suggestions, you'll see an all-star cast put on one of the best shows this month. Your producer, Jim Robinson, is himself a veteran of the improv scene, having performed in numerous Second City shows and seeing his troupe Fratwurst play at the NYC Sketch Comedy Festival. Luckily, the audience's suggestions are handed in before the show, because given the late start time, and the day of the week, and the name of the show, it's best not to ask the audience members to be coherent after the first 20 minutes.
Photo of James Adomian.
About the Author: This is Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third-person. My blog, Diary of a Stand-up Comedian, walks you through the up's and down's (they're mostly down's, really) in my quest to become a killer comic in Toronto.
by Michael Jagdeo via blogTO