Published Jul 30, 2018Ah, the summer of 2018. Or, as some who spend their days researching the melting polar ice caps are calling it, "the last summer in the history of humankind." We had a good run. Let's close out the final summer of all time with some jokes, shall we?
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. Show times are at 9 p.m. sharp!
Our August 2 edition is packed, featuring sets by Jay & Eytan, Heidi Brander and Juliana Rodrigues. Let's learn more about them now, together.
Eytan Millstone is from Toronto and Jay Wells L'Ecuyer is from Welland, Ontario and both currently live in New York City. On August 10, Comedy Records will release their new Jay & Eytan sketch album, So Busy So Tired, which they'll celebrate at our showcase, as well as at more formal release shows at Toronto's Drake Underground on August 3 and on August 6 at New York Comedy Club.
"Jay got in trouble a lot for being a class clown; his guidance counsellor told him to become a comedian, so he did," the duo tell Exclaim! via a collectively composed email. "Eytan never knew how to tell a story without acting it out, so once he figures out how to write a punch line, he will officially consider himself a comedian."
As their answers here reflect, Jay & Eytan appreciate brevity.
"We do two-man sketch with a standup approach. The shorter the joke the better. We will cover any topic that we think is funny and will make an audience laugh."
Heidi Brander is originally from Charlottetown, PE, but now primarily lives in Toronto, spending parts of her year in Halifax to write for the satiric TV show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
"I became a fan of standup comedy because of Fozzie Bear," Brander says of her superhero origin story. "Then when I got older, I decided I wanted to be a TV writer, and so I did that thing that all aspiring TV writers do where you write spec scripts and send them out and no one ever reads them. After a few years of doing that, my friend who is a standup encouraged me to start performing, and I wound up getting my first TV writing opportunity because someone saw me onstage."
Growing up in Charlottetown, Brander assumed that the city's rich live music and theatre scenes might make it an equally vibrant place for live comedy, but discovered that wasn't quite the case.
"In high school I remember trying to start an improv club but my teacher said no, because he didn't want to hang out with me at lunch," Brander says. "Thankfully P.E.I. has a cool little standup scene now, but when I lived there if you wanted to perform you had to put on a wig and audition for Anne of Green Gables."
In terms of a style, Brander suggests her joke-writing is timely, perhaps even to a fault.
"I love topical jokes about politics and pop culture. It's pretty dumb of me as a standup to try and cover that territory, because the jokes get dated so quickly, but those are my favourite jokes to write. Whenever I sit down to try to write new jokes that I could use for a long time about my upbringing or 'who I look like,' I always get sidetracked by hot topics in the news."
Beyond our showcase, you can catch Brander at the Halifax Yuk Yuks, August 23 to 25 and at the Last Laugh Comedy Club in Halifax, September 14.
Juliana Rodrigues is 21 years old and is originally from Vaughan, Ontario.
"I currently live in Thornhill with my mom, because I can't find another roommate that'll come with me to thrift stores as frequently," she explains. "I haven't moved into the city yet, mostly because the cost of rent is out of control, and I like retreating back to a quiet neighbourhood after a long night of doing standup."
Rodrigues says that she played competitive soccer for the Ontario Soccer Association and was part of an academy designed to fast-track her to the women's national team. While she loved the sport, at 14, she says it was all too stressful and so she left the game behind.
"After I that, I took a basic improv course at Second City, because I wanted to do something fun where I could just be goofy and be myself," she says. "I loved the idea of performing comedy, but I knew it wouldn't be improv. A year later I decided to give standup a try and I've been doing it consistently for nearly six years.
"There are a lot of life lessons and crossovers I learned from my upbringing playing soccer that I can apply to my career in comedy since both can be a mental game," she adds. "It taught me a lot about self-discipline, but mostly how to handle showcases and important performances. Whenever I feel that external pressure, I have to remind myself that I'm doing this only because I love comedy and I need to remind myself to have fun. I never want to lose my affection for the art form."
Rodrigues only turned 21 a couple months ago and says that it's best for her to cover topics that are true to her life, that she's naturally curious about, because she believes audiences can tell if you're being inauthentic.
"I'm not trying to change your mind about how you view the world, I'd just like to let the audience in [about] how I view the world around me. I talk a lot about personal experiences and sometimes relate them to social issues that apply to my life — feminism is a big one."
As for the future, Rodrigues is about to take a long-anticipated trip.
"I'm really excited to be traveling to Halifax for the first time in late August to perform at The Last Laugh Comedy Club. I've always wanted to visit and I'm so grateful to have that opportunity through comedy now. I'm pumped to eat seafood like a psychopath."
Come see these people say bye bye to summer on Thursday August 2 at the Wenona Lodge.
A ten-dollar ticket includes one pint of Steamwhistle; you can buy tickets in advance here.