Live Show Recaps

Published on October 18th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson

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2011 Canadian Comedy Awards in pictures & words

CCA host Steve Patterson

Monday evening, the Canadian comedy industry converged on the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto for the second year in a row to dole out the 12th annual Canadian Comedy Awards.

Host Steve Patterson opened the night gleefully dropping the f-bomb, something he can’t do in his work with the CBC. He went into a song about the biz – complete with a pianist and backup vocals – and a few more minutes of industry-specific material that somehow didn’t come across as jaded. Even the snarkiest of Patterson’s material retained his natural warmth, something that’s all too easy to discard when playing to a room of one’s own kind.

The most talked-about bit among the afterpartiers was Patterson’s lengthy “open letter” to every major newspaper in this country. It was a lengthy funny-but-sadly-true analysis of how comedy is one of the most difficult things to do, but is still the least-respected and least-covered artforms. It’s a piece of writing that deserves to be seen, and be assured that this website is not the only one harassing him for a copy.

Bonnie McFarlane

The Imponderables


Patterson also walked away with the Best Stand-Up Male award, much to his shock. His first concern when approaching the mic was not having directives on how to steer the show from there. He figured that since the organizers hadn’t said anything to him in rehearsals, that he didn’t win. Surprise!

Also surprised was the winner of the Chairman’s Award, which is being renamed the Roger Abbott Award after the late Air Farce member. Yours truly was sitting beside Cory Mack as the winner was being described, and it took Mack about three seconds longer than anyone else to realize that presenter Don Ferguson was talking about her. (Thankfully she looked lovely, because nothing strikes panic into a girl like being suddenly thrust into a spotlight after sitting in the dark for an hour.)

As was the case last year, the performers enlisted to do time between the awards were essentially playing to everyone’s dates. A room full of comedians aren’t the best audience. The Imponderables, last year’s winners for Best Sketch Troupe, did a very funny scene to very little response. Bonnie McFarlane went into her five minutes with guns blazin’, and also received relatively quiet appreciation in return. Nobody dies, but it’s sure tough to entertain the entertainers.

“Comics just see it all coming a mile away,” one performer said afterwards.

But what’s the alternative? Something has to break up the monotony of award, award, award.

Last year’s off-the-rails banter by presenters Sean Cullen and Gorden Pinsent was exactly the kind of insanity that you hope for, but can’t depend on. Presenters Peter Keleghan and Leah Pinsent did an inspired impression of the duo, purposely proving that it simply can’t be duplicated.

Maybe the bar should be kept open through the night? If the afterparty was any indication, comedians love bars.

Best lines of the night:

– “All it took was cancer. I’d do it again for this!” – Daniel Stolfi accepting his Best One Person Show award for Cancer Can’t Dance Like This

– “I’m a Canadian actor. You may recognize me from the ice cream cone commercial I did 11 fucking years ago.” – presenter Ennis Esmer

– Ron Pederson opening his Best Improvisor – Male speech with “it was an honour just to nominate myself,” and closing it with a sincere “I love being funny.”

– “He’s been at home spending time with his family, and has already developed more shows than he did when he was a network executive.” – Host Steve Patterson on an “Unknown Exec” who was recently let go from a major network. (Gee, wonder who he was talking about?)

– The entirety of the banter between past Best Improvisor winners – and married couple – Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf, illustrating how a marriage can unravel through the power of “yes, and”.

Here are your winners:

Best Stand-Up Male: Steve Patterson
Best Stand-Up Female: Debra DiGiovanni
Best Stand-Up Newcomer: Eric Andrews
Best Comedic Play, Revue, or Series: Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes (The Second City)
Best One Person Show: Cancer Can’t Dance Like This (Daniel Stolfi)
Best Sketch Troupe or Company: Picnicface
Best Improv Troupe or Company: The National Theatre of the World’s Impromptu Splendor
Best Male Improviser: Ron Pederson
Best Female Improviser: Sarah Hillier
Best Taped Live Performance: Nikki Payne (Halifax Comedy Fest 2010)
Best Direction, Television Program or Series: James Dunnison (Less Than Kind)
Best Writing, Television Program or Series: Ken Finkleman (Good Dog)
Best Television Performance, Male: Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz)
Best Television Performance, Female: Brooke Palsson (Less Than Kind)
Best Television Performance, Ensemble: James Harnett, Hannah Hogan, Alana Johnston, Kayla Lorette, Joey Lucius, Alex Spencer, AJ Vaage (That’s So Weird)
Best Film Performance, Male: Jay Baruchel (Good Neighbours)
Best Film Performance, Female: Maria del Mar (A Touch of Grey)
Best Writing, Film: Jacob Tierney (Good Neighbours)
Best Direction, Film: Jacob Medjuck (Summerhood)
Dave Broadfoot Award: Jayne Eastwood
Best Radio Clip or Program: This Is That (Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring)
Best Web Clip: That Thing That Happened
Best TV Show: This Movie Sucks!
Best Film: Summerhood
Canadian Comedy Person of the Year: Samantha Bee


Presenters Gabrielle Miller and Fiona Reid

Best Taped Live Performance winner Nikki Payne

Best Sketch Troupe winners Picnicface

Blowing the train whistle to celebrate Second City's win for Something Wicked Awesome This Way Comes

Best Stand-Up - Female winner Debra DiGiovanni

Presenters Robin Duke and Jayne Eastwood

Cast of That's So Weird

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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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