Laugh lines: Seven hilarious Fringe Toronto performers that should be on your radar

These comedians and actors are going to crack you up at this year's fest


Christel Bartelse

Writer/performer, All KIDding Aside, Tarragon Extra Space, from July 1

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

To have a baby or not have a baby? That is the question. #Environment #Money #Selfish? #Career

Why should someone sit in the front row?

So they can babysit my pretend child.

Why shouldn’t they?

I’ll question them about having irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

How do you deal with hecklers?

I put on my sound cue of a screaming baby, on full volume.

What else could people spend their $12 on?

Putting it toward their children’s future. 

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

“The no-refund policy is still in effect, right?”

Favourite Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memory?

Playing Twister with a homeless man in the Fringe Shed.

What will you miss most about that space?

Making out in a porta-potty.

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Gavin Williams

Performer/co-writer, Plus One, Tarragon Solo Room, now playing

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

An improv show that is the best kind of scary.

Why should someone sit in the front row?

Improv and comedy in general is so much better when it feels more intimate. So the closer the better! Also, if you sit in the front row you can see the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. Lucky you.

Why shouldn’t they?

Because the front row seats are already taken.

How do you deal with hecklers?

By interjecting yourself into the show you run the risk of my attempting to become your friend. I will brutally kill you with kindness.

What else could people spend their $12 on?

You could spend $12 to go see Independence Day: Resurgence in 3D. My show is also in 3D, but you don’t have to wear stupid glasses. 

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

“You guys looked like you were having a lot of fun up there!”

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

“That deep hole of existential dread in my soul has finally been filled.”

Favourite Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memory?

I can’t remember my best Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memories. That’s how I know they were good.

What will you miss most about that space?

That beautiful alleyway filled with lights on a hot summer night.

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Ryan Dillon

Writer/performer, Collapse, Tarragon Solo Room, from June 30

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

Comedian Ryan Dillon combines comedy and drama to tell his life story about trying to make everyone happy (and failing miserably).

Why should someone sit in the front row?

This is an intimate show. I open up about a lot of things I never talked about in stand-up. Sitting in the front row will be the best view for all the emotions.

Why shouldn’t they?

It’s a very intimate show. If we lock eyes, I may fall in love with you. Don’t break my heart. 

How do you deal with hecklers?

I’ll have a brown paper bag on standby to breathe in if that happens. That, or I’ll stand up to them. I get cowardliness and confidence mixed up all the time. 

What else could people spend their $12 on?

The top three choices are: six taquitos from 7-Eleven four bargain-bin DVD copies of Next, starring Nicolas Cage like, 15 ties from Value Village.

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

“It was pretty good!” in an octave that’s just too high to sound believable. 

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

“Wow, that was funny… but not what I expected. So good, but holy crap, that guy needs a hug!”

What will you miss most about the Honest Ed’s Fringe Club?

Seeing everyone’s posters lit up by the lights in Honest Ed’s alley. The best. 

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Sex T-Rex

Writer/performers (Josef Addleman, Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow, Seann Murray), WasteLand, Randolph Theatre, from July 1

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

Join @sextrex for the most #radioactionpacked show @Toronto_Fringe ! Car chases, mutant mayhem + the Bomb itself – live on stage #gutsfordays

Why should someone sit in the front row?

All the reasons! Feel the weight of every haymaker and hairpin turn, and get the crispest view of our post-apocalyptic puppets.

Why shouldn’t they?

The mutants don’t brush.

How do you deal with hecklers?

Sex T-Rex has never had a heckler, but this would be the perfect show for it! We’ve never been more heavily armed.

What else could people spend their $12 on?

Stockpiling canned goods/potable water for the considerably less funny actual apocalypse.

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

As long as you say it at an even pitch you’re golden. High-pitched reviews are the kiss of death.

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

“I laughed, I cried, I gained a new respect for the versatility of foam pipe insulation.”

Favourite Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memory?

That time there was a secret parking-garage dance party and we felt very much like we were in the movie Blade.

What will you miss most about that space?

Feeling like we were in the movie Blade. Also if you ever lost a prop for your show, odds are Ed’s had a suitable (or at least hilarious) replacement.

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Asiansploitation

Writer/performers (Jeff B. Santos, James Cheng, Tiffany Kwan, Ellie Posadas, Anthony Tran) and director (Jane Luk), Asiansploitation: Be More Pacific, Robert Gill Theatre, from July 1

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet. 

Jeff B. Santos: You know when you’re called out for not being true to your heritage so you make a comedy show about it? Me too! #bemorepacific #azn10

Tiffany Kwan: Asians like you’ve never seen them before! Because you rarely see them!

James Cheng: Pan-Asian 2nd Gen sketch comedy shou (mai) pokes fun at everyday struggles.

Ellie Posadas: Bet you’ve never seen a stage so yellow!

How do you deal with hecklers?

Jane Luk: We will come into the audience and have Foamy, our 13-year- old St. Bernard mascot, kiss you full on the mouth – dog gingivitis and all.

Santos: Each seat is ejectable. Unfortunately, the retractable ceiling is still out of service.

Cheng: Keep them busy with a pork-filled dumpling.

What else could people spend their $12 on?

Santos: Four bootleg DVDs from the Pacific Mall. However, if you get eight it’s only $20!!

Cheng: A durian gelato with black rice and coconut soup.

Kwan: Exactly three dim sum items at Rol San.

Posadas: Another ticket for another one of our shows.

Tony Tran: A vegan snack.

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

Luk: “Oh yoooooou!!! Come here!” Then hug friend very tightly. They will think you are completely overcome. Then fake cry and say, “What else can I say?”

Santos: “Hey….. that was a great *ring, ring*.… Oops, sorry. I need to take this call. See you after Asiansploitation: Be More Pacific!!”

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

Luk: “That was a damn funny show! I’m telling 12 of my friends to come and see it!”

Santos: “Wow, even after 10 years they’re still relevant and hilarious. Especially the chubby one!”

Cheng: “Who exploited those awesome Asian comedic actors to make the audience laugh from the first sketch to the last? Asiansploitation!”

Posadas: “I’m going to use this extra $12 in my pocket so I can pay to watch another one of their shows.”

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Songbuster Troupe

Performers (Tricia Black, Kristian Bruun, Matty Burns, Ashley Comeau, Alexandra Hurley, Stephanie Malek, Josh Murray, Nug Nahrgang, Connor Thompson, Tom King), Songbuster – An Improvised Musical, Randolph Theatre, currently playing

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

Songbuster – An Improvised Musical: we answer all the questions you’ve never asked… in a bunch of two- to three-minute songs.

Why should someone sit in the front row?

Leg room. Sweet, glorious leg room. 

Why shouldn’t they?

Spit. Singing produces a lot of spit.

How do you deal with hecklers?

We send our baritones after them. You don’t want to piss off a baritone.

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

“Congratulations! I really loved the end of it. Because it was terrible.”

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

“I changed my mind. I will go out with you, Josh Murray….”

Favourite Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memory?

Those weird sweaty underground dance parties that felt like a rave scene from a 90s movie!

What will you miss most about that space?

Honestly, everything. It is perfect. Or Honestly, EDverything! Okay, um, this interview is done.

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Folk Lordz

Improvisers Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky, Folk Lordz: Warriors & Fools, from July 1, Factory Studio

Sum up your Fringe show in a tweet.

Indigenous war stories + Jewish fools’ tales X physical (read sweaty) improv comedy = Folk Lordz.

Why should someone sit in the front row?

For the full 4D experience.

Why shouldn’t they?

The 4D experience includes a surprising amount of flying sweat droplets.

Scenario: You hate a show. You know some people in it. What do you say to them afterwards?

“I trusted you.”

What do you want people to be saying after your show?

“I never knew culture, physical theatre and improv comedy intersected in such a… wet… way.”

Favourite Honest Ed’s Fringe Club memory?

The Porta-Potties.

What will you miss most about that space?

The quiet solitude of entering the hallowed shit temple, an island of fragrant respite amidst the Fringe chaos.

Get more Fringe 2016 here.

glenns@nowtoronto.com | @glennsumi

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