A Night of Great Comedy : Selene Luna and Margaret Cho

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If, as they say, a picture paints a thousand words, and if more words are allotted the better the picture is, than granted, I won’t be writing any novels today. But darn it, the evening out that these less-than-stellar shots illustrate was so good that I’m going to post them anyway.

In fact, for the past several out-on-the-town stories I’ve written, the accompanying shots have been rather dark and grainy. I guess my being a night-owl and a blogger who writes about the things I do around the city, don’t really compliment one another. If it helps, this week I have two daytime outings planned, so hopefully will be giving you a break from looking at such dark images.

These pictures were taken on Sunday night, when my pal Meghan kindly treated me to a ticket to see a stand-up comedy show.

The show was held at a venue called The Danforth Music Hall. I wrote about this place, which opened almost a hundred years ago in 1919, after attending concerts there last summer (here and here). For those concerts the audience stood wherever they wanted to, in a huge open room, but for this show, they had installed row upon row of vintage theatre seats. I wonder where they were hiding them.

The opener was Selene Luna.

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And the headliner was Margaret Cho.

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The show ended with a few musicians coming out to accompany Margaret in singing a rude and ridiculous song, complete with audience participation. Based on the volume in the hall, it was clear that everyone was having a great time.

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This was the closing gala of a comedy festival that was held here in Toronto over the weekend, called SheDot. The unique feature about this particular festival is that every performer, over the 4 days it ran, was female. Local women and some from all over the world were here, performing stand-up, sketch, improv and storytelling.

In describing both comedians we saw, it would not be enough to simply say they were really funny and we laughed non-stop. While that is true, their shows were also courageous, eye-opening, outrageous and inspiring. I haven’t stopped thinking about their performances since. Different bits keep popping into my head and I’ve found myself laughing out loud. Nick and I share a home office and at one point yesterday, he asked me what was so funny. I tried to explain what exactly I was remembering at the moment, but it lost a lot in translation.

It was gorgeous outside so we took a little walk after the show. The part of the city we were in is filled with all kinds of interesting old buildings. It was the first night this year without needing a jacket.

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I took this picture of the theatre on our way back, which explains the emptiness, when an hour later it was packed with people.

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Margaret and Selene are on tour together, that will take them to Montreal and the United States (see the list here), so you might be able to catch them.

Thanks for dropping over,
xo lou

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Posted in Concerts, Out at Night | 1 Comment

Out for a Friend’s Birthday

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I had a great time out with my friends Nyla and Julie last week. It was Nyla’s birthday!

Regular visitors here have met both of these ladies, each highly regarded poets, before (most recently : Nyla – here, and Julie – here), however there has never been a story about all three of us being out together before, so you wouldn’t know that Julie and Nyla are good friends with each other, and were so before I entered the scene.

I had met Nyla at my sister’s place the Christmas of 2010. We’d laughed so much that afternoon and I liked her right from the get-go. I’d taken a very nice photo of her that day so had a reason to follow up with her right away. We kept in touch through FB and then, five months later, met for coffee. Then again a couple of months later for lunch, and so on.

When she had a launch party for her second book, in October 2012, Nick and I went. It ended up being a good time, and I wrote about here. Just before we left I got in line to have Nyla autograph my copy of her book. I remember thinking at the time, that I could wait or just get Nyla to sign the book at our next get together. I’m glad I decided to wait, because while I did the friendly person in front of me turned around and said hi.

That was Julie. During our brief conversation we ended up talking about how we both kept blogs. At the time I was new to blogging, and I’d never actually met another blogger in person, so that, in itself, was exciting. I found her blog the next day, and left a comment.

Aside from her gift with words, Julie is a very good knitter, which is the main topic of her blog, Knitted Bliss. I share her love of working with yarn, but switch out the needles for a hook, as I am a crocheter. So, during the months that followed, we bonded over our mutual love of creating things with yarn, and kept in touch via our blogs.

And so began our on-line friendship, each of us leaving comments on one another’s posts. That went on for a year before we met again in person, going out for dinner together.

These two chance meetings, that easily might not have happened, have led to relationships that I now value highly. The length of time it took for us to get to the point where I see each of them for lunch or dinner regularly, goes to show that it really takes time and effort to develop new friendships that stick to become the types that will last a lifetime. It is indeed a challenge to make new good friends as adults when you don’t have the convenience of, say, working together, but of course, putting in the effort required is so worth it. And you never know when and where that first spark of friendship will ignite, so think about turning around in line sometime and saying hello to the person behind you.

Speaking about taking time, it took far too long for the three of us to all go out together. Which we finally did when we went out to celebrate Nyla’s birthday last week.

We met for drinks at Luma, the restaurant at The Lightbox Theatre on King Street West, (which is main space for the Toronto International Film Festival).

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I had a cocktail called ‘Holiday Feast’, which included ‘rosemary-infused wild turkey bourbon, cointreau, cranberry and rainbow peppercorn syrup’. Did you know that bourbon is pretty much the same thing as whiskey, except it’s made in the United States, and both are pretty much the same thing as Scotch? Anyway, I’m not usually a fan of that kind of liquor (I’m a rum girl, if I’m having a mixed drink), but the ingredients in this made it sound so tempting. Good that I changed things up and ordered it because it was delicious.

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Nyla went for ‘Grandpa’s Apple Cider’, which was ‘kraken black spiced rum, apple cider and cinnamon. Julie’s drink had jalapeno peppers in it. All of our drink choices might sound a bit wintery for this late April date but it was so cold out that night and actually snowed a bit.

Luma is a lovely large open room, with a full wall of windows, and we lingered there, talking and giving Nyla gifts.

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I got her a type of notebook I love, the Moleskine Reporter, which flips upwards so it good for both left and right handed people. I’m a leftie so writing in most notebooks is harder than it should be! It closes with an elastic, so is great for keeping with you in your bag. I thought it would come in handy for Nyla in her writing.

Julie was thinking along the same lines because she got her a pen! It was a beautiful Kate Spade one that I regret not getting a photo of.

Julie also kindly got me a present for my birthday that was the previous week … some Kate Spade stationery note cards. I love them.

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Then we went out for dinner. We ended up at The Keg on King Street West.

Now, I have to come right out and say that The Keg, a popular steakhouse chain here, was not our first choice but we had wrongly expected to waltz right into the place we had planned to go (Valdez), without booking a table in advance. It was a mid-week dinner, so we thought that would be no problem. We were wrong. They couldn’t seat us for at least an hour, so we looked for someplace else. After checking at two other places in the area around King and Portland, that also couldn’t seat us, we found ourselves standing in front of The Keg.

I don’t mean to give the impression that this is not a good place, because, since this location opened last fall, I’ve been wanting to go. It is located within a very interesting building, which I am planning a separate post about because it has such a cool story. It just wasn’t what we were looking for on this particular night, as none of us was jonseing for a steak.

How wrong we were for hesitating on our decision to go there. It turned out to be a really good time.

The place is huge and we were invited to look around and find ourselves a seat. We lucked out and found a great one in a little side room, that had walls lined with books and some large black and white photographs on the wall. Oh yes, there was an inviting fireplace right beside our table.

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We began with drinks, a Bloody Mary for Nyla, a Bloody Caesar for me (that’s a savory drink served primarily in Canada) and a Gin and Tonic for Julie.

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^ Nyla took this shot on her phone ^

For dinner, Nyla had a Caesar Salad with grilled chicken, and Julie and I shared a few appetizers – some baked brie cheese, served with pesto and red pepper jelly, calamari, and crab cakes.

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Everything was really good, but what was most special about this restaurant was the warm welcome and great service we were offered. There was even complementary cake (and three forks) for the birthday girl!

We all agreed that it turned out to be an excellent place to go and I am looking forward to my next visit.

I’m also looking forward to my next dinner out with these two.

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a great weekend. I’m looking forward to going to see/hear the comedian Margaret Cho.
xo loulou

ps. If you’re interesting in seeing how I made the gift bow and birthday card for Nyla, I wrote about them here and here.

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Posted in King Street West, Out at Night, Restaurants of Toronto | 4 Comments