Before I get too far into my recap of my evening I want to just lay out the rules I set out for myself and what I’m doing. If you’re looking for a review or a blow by blow breakdown of the acts you’re not going to get that here. My hope is to lay out a quick biography of the acts that I see followed by a brief feeling of the night as well as some of the themes touched on. Give you a little taste for the type of energy and laughs to expect and hopefully entice you out to see some of these acts yourself either at the festival or around town if you have a chance.
The weather was confusing today, it was hot and cold intermittently with heavy pregnant clouds hanging over the city threatening rain. Despite all this I was excited, this is like a Comedy Birthday for me (especially since on many years it ends around or on my birthday) and I was starting the festival by seeing Courtney Gilmour, an act I had seen as an opening act last year and I was really excited to see her headline.
I arrived at the Comedy Bar around 6:30 checking in without problems, the lighting was gentle and the mood of the room was warm and inviting. Procuring a nautical themed ale I perched on a bench in a corner (as best as a spherical fellow such as myself can perch) and waited for the all clear signal for us to enter the main space.
Around 6:45 the lobby began to fill up with eager comedy enthusiasts like myself giving the room a happy buzz, shortly after we made our way into a tightly packed and buzzing room. Welcomed by ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky (a marked juxtaposition to the “thick beats” of the music around the bar) the tempo was fast and fun and kept everyone’s toes tapping and faces smiling.
Opening for Courtney was Nour Hadidi, veteran of Just for Laughs, Winnipeg Comedy Festival, CBC’s The Debaters and writer for The Beaverton (just to name a few her accomplishments). She brought to the stage a bright sharp energy that was a real treat to watch. The humour was observational and welcoming while containing a playful comedic hook. Nour touched on the themes of religion, family and expectations. It was an insightful and sly set that had the audience laughing out loud.
Following Nour was Courtney Gilmour, as I mentioned I saw her last year and immediately wanted her to guest on the podcast. She’s a hot commodity right now in the comedy world having appeared at Just For Laughs in Montreal winning the Homegrown Comics Competition (the first woman to do so in the competition’s history) as well as filming a set for Kevin Heart’s LOL Network. Courtney’s style was a mix of observational and confessional humour pulling in from her personal experiences. She talked about dating, mansplaining, religion and a recent purchase (don’t want to give away the bit so I’ll leave it at that). There was a raucous and welcoming energy from her performance that kept on rolling. Crowd interaction was light and friendly and the time flew by with the audience in stitches.
None of the material was particularly blue but there was some “salty language” and “adult themes” not that people should be bring their kids to the festival but oddly enough I’ve seen it happen so if you are bringing kids or are faint of heart be warned there’s some light cursing (but no more so than you’d find in a conversation on the TTC).
Also, a shout out should be given to Jen the sign interpreter who was translating the show. She was a great fun presence on the stage along side Nour and Courtney and seemed to be enjoying herself translating as much as Nour and Courtney were enjoying themselves telling the jokes. It was a terrific addition that added to the experience.
Thanks Courtney and Nour for the fun first night!
Matthew Ardill & Jason Deline
Partners in crime we collaborate to create the Comedy Album Book Club, a deep dive into comedy history.