The top five Toronto comedy shows of 2018

Comedy is often the best when the world’s going down the crapper. So no wonder these five shows – just a sample of the range and variety of acts in the city – impressed me so much.


1. ASHLEY WITH A “Y”

Factory Studio/Fringe, July 7

The Second City alum’s solo Fringe musical with accompanist Scott White took improv to a whole other level, using audience suggestions to recall stories from her life, resulting in songs that touched on universal truths. Someone please produce this as a regular show in 2019!

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2. THE BEST IS YET TO COME UNDONE

Second City, April 9 (still playing)

Covering big topics (#MeToo, systemic racism) and silly ones (what would a lonely traffic light sound like?), director Carly Heffernan and her beautifully balanced cast –  Stacey McGunnigle, Chris Wilson, Allana Reoch, Brandon Hackett, Nadine Djoury and Sharjil Rasool – delivered sketch perfection.

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Freddie (left) and Miguel Rivas mark a milestone at TOsketchfest.

3. RAPP BATTLEZ 100th SHOW

The Great Hall/Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, March 9

Miguel and Freddie Rivas’s monthly comedy smackdown marked its major milestone with a special show at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival featuring what felt like a cast of thousands. It was loud, aggressive, sometimes incoherent, often brilliant and usually extremely inappropriate. In other words: a great show.

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4 JAMES ACASTER

The Garrison/JFL42, September 22

Who knew that a tall, pale Brit who looks like he’s related to Ron Weasley’s ginger brood could make a tough JFL42 crowd laugh about Mr. Bean, boneheaded soccer fans and the one song that, when first heard, unites everyone?

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5 a sketch comedy extravaganza eleganza

Buddies in Bad Times, November 3

I’ve seen lots of queer sketch before, but this solid troupe – Tricia Black, Tom Hearn, King Chiu, Monica Garrido, Marshall Lorenzo, Jillian Welsh and Selena Vyle (Nicky Nasrallah’s drag persona), all directed by Kirsten Rasmussen – is fresh, has a definite point of view and is fearlessly frank and funny. Shantay, they all stay.

See related article about the best and worst stand-up stories of 2018

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