Published on October 19th, 2010 | by Sharilyn Johnson


See see ehs!

Oh, how I wish the Canadian Comedy Awards (CCAs) happened in Toronto every year. Indeed, it’s a rotating affair, said to be headed to Ottawa in 2011. As a city, we knew we had to enjoy this while we could — and I’d say we most definitely did.

Here’s a rundown of the best, the worst, and the weirdest from Monday night’s ceremony.

Male Improvisor winner, Sean Tabares

Best opening line from host Dave Foley:
“I have notes, because there was a problem with the teleprompter. It needed to be rented.”

Strangest surprise:
Loretta Swit, aka “Hot Lips” Houlihan from M*A*S*H, presenting the best solo show award on her night off from performing in Shirley Valentine at Stage West. She was quite eager to wax philosophic on the nature of comedy, and breathlessly share with us the famous “comedy is easy, dying is hard” quote, as if this was brand new information to all of us. She looks great and clearly beloved by all in attendance, but matched the cliche of the “aging television star doing dinner theatre in Mississauga” to a t.

Funniest surprise:

Colbert Report head writer Barry Julien jetting in from New York to present the writing awards, effortlessly stealing the show from the other presenters with two fantastic introductions: one about how nominees’ fears of revealed as a fraud will come true if they lose, and one on how he only attended the awards so he could fight Gordon Pinsent in hand-to-hand combat. Both wonderfully written, both perfectly executed. (Really, Barry, you could’ve come right out and said “…and this is why I have Emmys”, and nobody would’ve argued.)

Biggest uphill battles:
Anyone else who had to do time. Don Ferguson and Roger Abbott struggled to impress the jaded masses, and Ron James faced a similar fate later on in front of the tired jaded masses. Thankfully, all parties knew to comment on their flat-lining material, because when the entire room is the back of the room, failure always gets a laugh. (It will be interesting to see if they ruin these moments for broadcast by trying to punch them up.)

Saddest shut-outs:
The Sketchersons. Hot Box.

Best Overall Moment:
Dave Foley and fellow Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald’s sketch going horribly wrong, with a forgotten line, a spilled drink, broken glass, and McDonald’s lav mic falling off. It was topped by members of the Imponderables joining them on stage to accept the Best Sketch Troupe Award, pratfalling all over each other at length. When they – and the mic – ended up together laying on the floor, they finally delivered their one-word acceptance speech: “Thanks.”

Worst Overall Moment:
Ferguson and Abbott left their struggling bit behind to present the Dave Broadfoot Award. Before awarding it, they explained that the irregular decision to announce the recipient in June was made in hopes to “give comfort as his life was slipping away”. Unfortunately, one person in the audience decided that was a punchline – not receiving the memo that the recipient was the late Irwin Barker – and cackled uproariously. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt a theatre full of people audibly cringe, but it’s not something I’m anxious to experience again.

Unlikeliest CCA hero:
Gordon Pinsent. No, he didn’t get punched by Barry Julien (that I saw, anyway), but his co-presenting stint with Sean Cullen showed that this man has the patience of a saint. Cullen ran improvisational circles around him, giving Pinsent barely an opportunity to get a word in, save for a Blacula anecdote and the revelation that his suit came from his Republic of Doyle wardrobe. This went on. And on. And on. It was equal parts excruciatingly hilarious, and just plain excruciating as we were waiting anxiously for them to wrap this baby up. The video camera positioned next to me had to change tape halfway through. I’m not kidding.

Best Winning Moments:
Irwin Barker’s widow Joanna, doing a lovely job of accepting his three posthumous awards to standing ovations and many moist eyes. Simply beautiful. She even got a joke in at Sean Cullen’s expense, post Pinsent-banter.

Best closing line from host Dave Foley:

“Sean Cullen and Gordon Pinsent will be doing a six-month theatre run, earlier this evening.”

Best meme:
The increasingly warm reception awarded to the stoic young stagehand whose solitary duty was to place the mic stand back onto its mark, sometimes six inches away, sometimes six feet. By the end of the night, she was receiving standing ovations. I think we scarred her for life.

The after party at Pilot (great place!) was, as predicted, packed to the gills. Uncomfortably so. To the point where you almost need to make a choice to either make it an all-nighter and make a goal of drinking with some Sketchersons, or just make the rounds and get out. I got out. I haven’t heard a peep from the hardcore partiers, which means they’re likely still recovering. I’m sure the stories will surface in due time.

Winners List:

TV Performance Ensemble: Less Than Kind
Canadian Comedy Person of the Year: Irwin Barker
Film Performance Female: Kristin Booth – At Home by Myself… With You
Film Performance Male: Jay Baruchel – The Trotsky
Male Stand-Up: Irwin Barker
Film Direction: Jacob Tierney – The Trotsky
TV Direction: Kenny Hotz – Kenny vs. Spenny
Sketch Troupe: The Imponderables
Film Writing: Jacob Tierney – The Trotsky
TV Writing: Mark McKinney – Less Than Kind
Female Stand-Up: Laurie Elliott
Chairman’s Award: Harry Doupe
Dave Broadfoot Award: Irwin Barker
Radio Program/Clip: Monotheism vs. Polytheism – The Debaters
Web Clip: Being Erica – Erica’s Blog – The Phone Message
Improv Troupe: The Carnegie Hall Show
Comedic Play: 0% Down, 100% Screwed
One Person Show: Naughty Little Children
Male Improvisor: Sean Tabares
Female Improvisor: Naomi Snieckus
Taped Live Performance: Jon Dore – Just For Laughs
Stand-Up Newcomer: Mark DeBonis
TV Performance Male: Dave Foley – Less Than Kind
TV Performance Female: Laurie Elliott – Almost Audrey

About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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