According to Tim Progosh, comedy is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Canadian art scene. It just doesn't get enough respect.
"Doing sketch, stand-up and improv across Canada, I'd see amazing troupes like the Illustrated Men. They were funnier than anything you'd see on TV."
At the same time, the Gemini-nominated actor was serving on juries where comedy nominees would be lumped in with variety specials and mini-series.
He hopes he's changed things with the Canadian Comedy Awards, now in its 11th year and back where it started, in Toronto.
Categories include stand-up, improv, sketch, theatre, TV and film.
"We've found artists that other people didn't acknowledge," he says. "One year My Big Fat Greek Wedding was nominated as a stage play; two years later, it was a huge movie. The Drowsy Chaperone got nominated and won, and it ended up on Broadway."
Current stand-up stars like Debra DiGiovanni, Gilson Lubin and Jon Dore all won in the best newcomer category.
This year's fest includes four days of nominee shows at venues like the Comedy Bar, Bad Dog, Second City and Yuk Yuk's. Mary Walsh hosts the Best Of The Fest Gala on Sunday (October 17), while Dave Foley hosts the awards show itself on Monday (October 18).
Not surprisingly, Progosh has seen lots of hilarity in a decade's worth of awards shows.
"I remember seeing Luba Goy dancing with Jordan Prentice, the little person from In Bruges, at 2 am," he says. "I also remember Mike MacDonald choked up after winning the Comic Genius Award."
The awards themselves are still affectionately called Beavers.
"One year Deb McGrath said, ‘And the Beaver goes to...' and Jayne Eastwood said, ‘Geez, I never get to say that any more.'"
Complete info at canadiancomedy.ca.