Nick and I are still laughing over what we heard at the finale of the Top Comic competition, featuring performances by a group of Canada’s top eight rising comedy stars and headliner Maria Bamford, which we had the pleasure of attending on Thursday evening.
Presented by SiriusXM, it was part of the 7th Annual Toronto Just For Laughs Festival, the 10-day event that included shows by 8 headliners and 42 other comics, held in various venues around the city.
The Top Comic competition began back in the spring, with the registration of hundreds of people from across the country. From that group, 60 contestants were selected to compete at the Calgary and Toronto auditions over six nights in May. Judges chose 18 semi-finalists to participate in a Canada-wide online vote, with 8 moving forward to the finale, which occurred in Toronto on September 27th, 2018.
The show, held at The Winter Garden Theatre and hosted by comic Ben Miner of SiriusXM’s Canada Laughs, began with a performance by last year’s winner Gavin Matts. Then, the 8 finalists each gave a short set.
Given that these select few had risen to the top of many applicants, it doesn’t need saying that they were each excellent.
(If you click here on SiriusXM’s site, you can access a video of each of them doing their thing, along with the other ten contestants who made it to the pre-finale round.)
After their sets, while the judges consulted and text-votes were tallied, the audience was treated to a performance by Maria Bamford, who, in addition to many impressive achievements within the world of comedy, stars in the semi-autobiographical Netflix comedy series Lady Dynamite, created by Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development) and Pam Brady (South Park).
Following Maria’s show, the winner and two runners-up were announced.
The prize for the winner included the coveted “Top Comic” title, $25,000, and guaranteed performances at four Just For Laughs Festivals: Australia, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Also they won a spot in a Just For Laughs television special to air on a Bell Media property in the 2019/2020 broadcast season. The runners-up each received cash prizes of $2,500 and TV spots at the 2019 Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, as well as a co-headlining show at Just For Laughs Toronto in 2019.
In pictures, here’s how the evening went …
We’d been invited to enter through the stage door which was at the back of the building …
… then got into an elevator which took us up to the backstage area of The Winter Garden Theatre, where we attended a pre-show reception with the comics and friends.
Just before showtime, we went back down to street level. We had to walk down to Queen Street, over to Yonge Street, and back up, in order to enter the theatre from the front doors.
From here, I’m going to skip forward. I took plenty of additional photos of this one-of-a-kind theatre, which I’ll save for my next post. If you’ve never seen inside this remarkable place, I think you’ll be very surprised by its stunning decor. We certainly were!
The Winter Garden Theatre is part of a stacked set, with The Elgin underneath. So, we had to travel up several sets of stairs and escalators to get there …
Let the show begin …
Ready to annouce the winners …
And the new Top Comic is …
What a great and exciting night it was! I’m not kidding when I say that the next morning, my face was a bit sore from laughing so much. And, as previously stated, the show lives on at our place, as each of us remembers and retells one of the hundreds of funny things we heard that night.
Thanks for reading. Please come back to see the next post which will feature The Winter Garden Theatre.