After a couple of weeks of so-so crowds, new comedy club Tom Foolery's came into its own last weekend with lots of laughs and some healthy houses for headliner Brent Butt. "Why isn't this guy a superstar?" asked a local stand-up, one of many there to see the Vancouver-based comic deliver a rare set. Lord knows he's got the material. Completely unthreatening, Butt is the bemused observer, always ready to make fun of himself, from his poor childhood eating habits to his big head and his bafflement at being felt up by his doctor. He's so good, he can even pull off a designer coffee joke.
Host Kristeen Von Hagen warmed up the crowd with her best material -- she's one of the most reliable and likeable stand-ups around. Harry Doupe's line about "masturbating to Internet porn... at the library" scored, as did birthday girl Suzanne De Jonge's observations about being half-Jewish and half-Catholic. But the real find was Paul Haywood, whose bits about Parkdale hookers, phoning your ex and rubber fist dildos rocked the house.
Haywood headlines TF's in early May. Butt hosts the Canadian Comedy Awards tonight (Thursday, April 4).
Director Daryl Cloran (Mojo) keeps raking in the awards. The assistant artistic director at Soulpepper and winner of last year's first Toronto Theatre Emerging Artist Award, Cloran's just been tapped -- along with French director Michel Bérubé -- for the biennial John Hirsch Prize, named after the late director. It carries with it a $6,000 prize. Hope he directs one of Soulpepper's shows this summer.
Factory Theatre's CrossCurrents, a new play festival that develops the work of writers of colour "whose themes involve the intersections of different cultures," premieres with four readings. First up is Anosh Irani's The Matka King, in which a father sells his daughter into prostitution to pay a debt (today, Thursday, April 4). Gerry Atwell's Life Of The Party looks at an African Canadian who horrifies his friends by joining the PC party (Saturday, April 6).
Japanese general Yamashita, defended by an American attorney following the second world war, inspires Hiro Kanagawa's The Tiger Of Malaya (April 11). Jovanni Sy's 43 Harsh Regulations deals with a Chinese man who, because of 1920s Canadian immigration regulations takes decades to bring his wife from China (April 13).
Giving life to these workshops are directors Brian Quirt, Phil Akin, Rebecca Picherack and Nicole Stamp. The actors include Marvin L. Ishmael, Rahnuma Panthaky, Yashoda Ranganathan, Andrew Moodie, Victor Ertmanis, Donna Goodhand, Denis Akiyama, Marjorie Chan, Alon Nashman, Matthew MacFadzean and Jean Yoon. A free public round table called New Writers, New Audiences (April 12) features artistic directors Layne Coleman, Alison Sealy-Smith, Martin Bragg, Jani Lauzon and Ken Gass. 125 Bathurst. 416-504-9971.
It's with a touch of jealousy that we read about Flux, a new Mump & Smoot production currently at Calgary's Alberta Theatre Projects. These clowns of horror, aka Mike Kennard and John Turner, are our Canadian clowns of choice, and have been ever since we saw them commit hysterical mayhem at the first Toronto Fringe. In Flux, these funny and freaky worshippers of the clown god Ummo -- they speak a heady gibberish called Ummonian -- return to the wilderness to commune with nature and find themselves in a battle for emotional and physical survival. There are sure to be a few body parts strewn about the stage by the end. We want to see it here. May Ummo make that happen.