The Toronto comedy scene can be quite competitive. On any given night, you can be competing with several other comedy shows. I’m only in year-two on the scene and I regularly get bombarded with Facebook invites to attend multiple shows that conflict with each other time-wise.
Comedy can also be very selfish. Your buddies could be putting on the show-of-a-lifetime, but if you’ve got even the remotest chance of getting some stage-time somewhere, you’re going to bid them good luck and be on your merry way.
This can be a bit discouraging for those just starting out – it’s hard to break into a scene that’s already saturated with show after show after show of more of the same. But it warms me to know that one troupe in town will always make time for the newbies.
Humber alumni sketch troupe Vest of Friends canceled two of their regularly-scheduled weekly open-mic nights this month alone to discourage competition and encourage student and alumni attendance to both the second years’ Ten-Minute Play Festival and the first years’ ongoing Archival Show.
The Vests host an open-mic every Wednesday night at Celtes Pub in the Junction and it is, in my experience, predominantly attended by current and former Humber students. It’s a great room to try out material amidst a group of people who truly support each other.
The room continues to thrive even after the Vests have left the hallways of Humber behind them and move on to greener pastures. (Keeping my fingers crossed that they get a spot at Just for Laughs this summer.)
When I was in first year last year, I couldn’t help but be grateful every time the second year students attended our performances, knowing they didn’t really have to be there. They’d been there in their first year, knew the score and had taken it upon themselves to support the newbies. But that the Vests (and the few grads who attended the Archival Show tonight–notably Steph) attended a performance for people they rarely see and hardly know, is really awesome — I think anyway. I mean, at least they saw us in the hallway from time to time last year!
I’m going to do something that all of you in first year, and those of you in second year should do — out of respect for their support, because they canceled Sirens to see you and us, and because they’re just a damn funny sketch troupe — I’m going to go watch the Vest of Friends shows as often as I can.
Don’t forget! The first year Archival Show performances continue tomorrow and Friday night, 7pm @Alumnae Theatre on Berkeley.
Also, the Vest of Friends are performing at Comedy Bar on Friday Feb 17th – so… yeah. Remember what I said about “conflicting shows” Uh, oops.