The Canadian Comedy Awards 2010: Best of the Fest/11th Annual Variety special (the Comedy Network, Aug. 24, 2011)

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Comedy specials are a fickle bitch, and last night’s Canadian Comedy Awards special, which aired on the Comedy Network, proved this point flawlessly.

The special served the purpose of showcasing some of Canada’s best comedic talent, all of which have been nominated at one time or another for one of the titular awards.

The funny folks featured were host Tom Green, stand-up comics Mark DeBonis, John Hastings and Sugar Sammy and sketch comedy troupe Picnicface, who changed things up a bit with their fantastical story of early Greek fables.

Now, these comedians, with the personal exception of Sugar Sammy, are all fine examples of the sense of humour our fine nation nurtures.

And, again, albeit for Sugar Sammy, I would pay good money to see any of these performers live.

Side note: My distaste for Sugar Sammy stems from my realization that he is essentially riding the same comedic horse as Russell Peters.  I’m sure that he’s a bearable person outside of his line of work.

The singular problem with this special and with practically every special the Comedy Network airs is that it is edited extremely poorly.

Jokes get cut short, shots of the audience look out of place with the laughter, and camera angles never serve the visual comedy properly.

The Comedy Network is slowly ruining whatever reputation it has by choosing to air shows like this.

I’m now going to call on the Comedy Network to make sure that if, in future, it chooses to air crap quality programming like the Canadian Comedy Awards special, to make sure the word “Canada” or anything pertaining to it is excluded from the title.

You’re making Canada look bad, you know.






The Comedy Network aired their “Canadian Comedy Awards: Best of the Fest/11th Annual Variety Special” last night, and I have to say…I was incredibly disappointed.

The set was terrible. The distressed back wall would have been fine on its own, but it clashed unpleasantly with the purple-lit curtains. The whole thing had me expecting My Little Ponies to start prancing across my TV screen at any moment. It was tacky and distracting. (Although not nearly as bad as the Comedy Now set is.)

On top of that, the editing was horrendous. It’s hard enough to enjoy televised comedy without constantly being disrupted by obvious transitions and jumpy cuts. You’d think they would have paid extra attention to editing since they only had 22 minutes to impress their viewers. But they didn’t seem to care.

Then there were the performers. The only real “name” attached to the program was Tom Green, and all he did was introduce everyone. (And appear on screen out of nowhere at the end, thanks to a really bad edit.) It was a huge letdown, especially considering the calibre of what followed.

The lineup was Picnicface, John Hastings, Mark DeBonis and Sugar Sammy.

I’m going to say this, and it’s going to sound pretentious, but please don’t judge.

If you’re going to film a Canadian comedy showcase, you should represent as much of Canada as you can. 

The only non-Eastern Canadian featured in the show was Picnicface’s Mark Little. Now, I know most of the juicy comedy jobs are out East, and a lot of our guys (and girls) have to relocate there to find work. But that’s no excuse. (It’s also a whole other rant.)

The point is, there are absolutely hilarious people west of Ontario, people who can be funny even on TV, and none of them were featured. Instead, we got Russell Peters Lite – I swear that “Indian girl from the village” joke is a Peters bit – and a couple of guys who were promising, but didn’t really deliver.

Since I’ve never seen Hastings or DeBonis live, I’m not going to be too hard on them. They were both promising, but neither really made me laugh. Hastings was more consistent as a performer than DeBonis, and had the added interest of sounding like Tom Green. His delivery was solid and his writing was thoughtful, but ultimately, something was missing. (Again, this was probably due in part to the fact that it was a televised special.)

Of the two, DeBonis was the smarter performer – he saved his best bit for last, which left me with a fairly good feeling about him. Unfortunately started out with a series of fairly unimaginative observational bits, which got a bit wearing. But he’s got presence, and he did work up to something decent. He didn’t blow my mind, but he must put on a good live show, or he wouldn’t have won Best Male Newcomer last year.

Picnicface was easily the best of the lot. Their staging was so spot-on it actually stopped me in my tracks for a second. Plus, their timing was solid and I loved the quiet absurdity of their sketch. In the right setting (i.e. not on the Comedy in Care-a-Lot stage,) I have a feeling they might be capable of some truly hilarious stuff. It was enough to pique my interest in their upcoming sketch-comedy TV series, and definitely enough to get me out to their Vancouver International Improv Fest show on Oct. 1.


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