Published Oct 26, 2017If you have to start thinking about Christmas the second Halloween is over, you might as well start preparing for our November comedy showcase too.
Canada's only exclusive standup 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. Show times are at 9 p.m. sharp.
Our November 2 edition features Gilson Lubin, Dena Jackson, and Garrett Jamieson backed by the band Sprattacus, so we asked each of them to tell us more about themselves.
Gilson Lubin has called Toronto home for 30 years and mostly performs at corporate and private shows but, beyond our showcase, you can see him at MacEwan University in Edmonton on November 17. He has a Comedy Now special and XM released his record, Foreign and Legal.
"The social commentary aspect drew me to considering standup comedy," Lubin says of his origins as a performer. "Never considered a career or thought it was a possibility. As a performer, I overheard classmates speaking of a venue where they watched standup comedy and I took it from there.
"Toronto is my comfort zone, as everyone's hometown likely is," he explains. "For myself, it's Toronto because any accent is accepted. You can make one up and people will assume it exists somewhere in this city. I'm also West Indian, so my Caribbean elements are my contribution to the melting pot that Toronto is."
Lubin and his work have been featured on HBO, MTV, and CBC among other platforms but he doesn't let any of that success go to his head.
"I believe every show is a different handshake, so I can perform in any room, as long as we both speak English. That said, I reserve social commentary for the right platforms and focus more on family storytelling."
Dena Jackson lives in Toronto and hails from the nearby suburb of Scarborough. She recalls loving comedy and performing when she was a little girl.
"I began competing in speech arts competitions when I was 12 — nerd alert — and often performed at legions for retired WWII veterans who would judge my speeches," she explains. "Let's just say I was a real hit with the seniors. I got into standup comedy in my 20s because I felt like it was one area of performing I had never tried, and after trying it once I was hooked.
"I grew up in Scarborough, which gets a lot of flack for being a bit rough'n'tumble, but I loved growing up there. Anything you needed, you could find at a discounted price and some of the funniest people I've ever met are from there. Scarberians have a specific sense of humour and for me it's the Scarborough comedians that make me laugh from the belly."
Jackson suggests that she uses a firsthand storytelling style in her standup and loves unleashing her inner voice upon a roomful of strangers.
"It's nice to know that other people can relate to an idea or feeling you thought you were all alone with. There isn't a topic that I consider off-limits but I do put more thought into topics that I think might be considered controversial before I work them out on stage."
Besides our showcase, Jackson will be performing in Western Canada from November 21 to December 4 in Edmonton, Calgary, Grand Prairie, AB and Cranbrook, BC. She's releasing a new podcast called The Ego Podcast, which will be available on iTunes and Soundcloud in mid-November.
Garrett Jamieson hails from Winnipeg but now makes Toronto home. His new album is called SuperDrunkGnome, and features his jokes backed up by the band Sprattacus.
"I was around ten when I got into 'the comedy,' when I was too young to do drugs," Jamieson recalls. "I found a release in watching A&E's Evening At the Improv and Caroline's Comedy Hour. I didn't know who the comics were, but they were getting laughs and I wanted to get laughs too.
"From that point on, collecting laughs was very important to me. I would make it my goal to be the funniest in the class. Every project I did had to be funny. Every person I met, I had to get their laughs. I needed them. I think I have a brain illness. Obsessive Compulsive Laugh Collecting (OCLC)."
Jameison says he's somewhat bemused by the way the rest of Canada regards his Winnipeg hometown.
"All they know of are the messed up stories and stereotypes that come from it, like how it's cold, there are giant mosquitos and it's the murder capital of Canada," he says. "However, there is so much more to the city. Like it's also the car theft capital, the Slurpee capital of the world, and home to a level four disease lab.
"I'd say Winnipeg has influenced my gallows humour," he adds. "I usually am fascinated by the English language, wordplay and irony. I also tell stories that are personal to me. That way, there will be less chance of comics plagiarizing me. Oh, I also curse all my jokes, so anyone that does steal them will face a fate worse than the Pharaoh in the Bible. And no there is no topic I avoid. The only thing preventing me from writing about every topic is laziness and procrastination.
"I also enjoy showing off the art form of standup in different ways, like it doesn't have to be in front of a crowd, it can be told with a band, and standup can be told sitting down."
Aside from our showcase, you can see Garrett Jamieson & Sprattacus live at the Corner Comedy Club in Toronto on November 16 and the Underground Cafe in Toronto on November 17.
Come get friendly with these people on Thursday November 2 at the Wenona Lodge.
A ten-dollar ticket includes a pint of Steamwhistle; you can buy tickets in advance here.