Published Jan 01, 2018Happy New Year! Now that 2017 is behind us, we can finally all laugh again.
Canada's only exclusive stand-up and sketch comedy label, Comedy Records, has teamed up with Exclaim! to launch the Comedy Records Showcase, which takes place on the first Thursday of every month at Wenona Lodge (1069 Bloor St. W) in Toronto. Showtimes are at 9 pm sharp!
Our January 4 edition features Carol Zoccoli, Brett McCrindle and Kenny Robinson, so we asked each of them to tell us more about themselves.
Carol Zoccoli is from São Paulo, Brazil and is based in Toronto. Her monthly show, Comedy as a Second Language, featuring immigrants and first generation Canadian comics, occurs every fourth Saturday of the month at 120 Diner (120 Church St. in Toronto).
"I've never been a fan of comedy," Zoccoli says, surprisingly. "We didn't have standup comedy in Brazil when I started. When I started, we had to explain to the audience what standup was first. There were a group of people who started doing standup in São Paulo, and when I heard of a type of comedy, in which the comics use their own material, I wanted to try because I've always been a writer. I didn't think it would last, I never thought of it as a profession. But it's been ten years — the first six years in Portuguese and the last four years in English.
"My favourite comics are the ones who stay still just throwing perfect lines," she adds. "I love good writing. And I tried to be this kind of comedian, but when I'm onstage, I have a lot of energy and I can't. I really fought this instinct, but the reality is, I have a lot of energy when I'm talking to my friends too. In Brazil this is the way we talk and express ourselves, so it's in me."
In terms of her material, Zoccoli suggests its "visceral," highlighting the fact that she moves around so much because she's fired up about the topics at hand.
"I talk about things that bother me, like men thinking they can kick my ass because they're bigger, or like how society pressures us to be over sexualized. I avoid talking about being an immigrant in a way that would not empower immigrants. I don't have a problem being the punchline myself, but when you're a minority you have to be aware of what you're representing."
Brett McCrindle was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta but currently lives in Toronto.
"I fell in love with Royal Canadian Air Farce as a kiddo," he says, of his earliest comedic influences. "Mike from Canmore was the funniest thing to me, and it made me want to move there! That's the power of comedy to me. Then in middle school I found out about standup comedy through Just For Laughs televised galas, and my aunt's VHS copies of Bill Cosby specials. When I was in high school I discovered Dane Cook and, this might sound bad, but thought for the first time, 'I could do that.' A few years later I finally wrote a joke while sitting in astronomy class in university and hit the stage for the first time a month after that."
McCrindle says that when he started doing comedy in Edmonton, he wrote what he knew, which included bringing some hometown prejudices he learned growing up to the stage. "But those racist premises did not fly in my relatively diverse new city," he recalls. "And after being confronted about them, I had a paradigm shift to wanting to create inclusive art that everyone can connect with, and feel happy and welcome. There's not much about Red Deer that informs my performances these days because of that mindset — it feels too small to me.
"It may make you feel like you're on drugs, but a fun one like acid, not heroin," he jokes, discussing his current act. "My standup is info-tainment, heavy on the 'tainment.' I like to broach scientific and philosophical topics and teach audiences a few concepts from each. Astronomy, physics, metaphysics, ornithology and meta-ornithology are sources of inspiration for me because birds in space that know they're in space keeps me laughing. I just think of a birdNASA sending up worms for them."
Beyond our showcase, catch Brett McCrindle doing shows in Edmonton from January 14 to 20.
Kenny Robinson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba but spent his formative years living in Chicago. He returned to Winnipeg when he was in grade 10, but has called Toronto home since 1981.
"Having grown up in Chicago and Winnipeg has given me a no bullshit, blue collar approach to comedy," he says. "Giftedly graphic, my words create pictures in people's minds and often take people to the places they don't want to go to."
A veteran, Robinson has a reputation for certain bits and for exploring parts of our interpersonal dynamics.
"At times autobiographical, my sexually explicit material may be my trademark," he says. "My crowdwork game is second to none, but topical and social commentary is closest to my heart."
Robinson celebrates his 60th birthday in January with a truly busy schedule, which you can keep up with here.
Come see these people deliver some thought-provoking jokes on Thursday, January 4 at the Wenona Lodge.
A ten-dollar ticket includes one pint of Steamwhistle; you can buy tickets in advance here.