December 9th will mark my 16 year stand up anniversary. Pretty unreal that I’ve managed to stick around this long. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, I’ve been witness to ebbs and flows. Having said that, I’ve never seen Canadian comics making an impact like they are right now. It’s nuts, everywhere you look there’s a Canadian comic killing it.
Conan O’Brien jumps ship to TBS, the first stand up booked on the new show? None other than Canada’s own Jon Dore. That’s just about as significant a booking as there’s ever been for a Canadian comic. No one has launched more comics over the last 20 years than Conan O’Brien. That’s the spot everyone was trying to get. That’s the spot everyone was wondering WHO it would go to. It went to Jon. He’s awesome. In fact, American late-night tv is all over Canadian comics. Vancouver’s Phil Hanley and Toronto’s Mark Forward both did Craig Ferguson’s show in the last couple years and absolutely killed it, and Mark also did John Oliver’s show too. Not to mention Conan has gone back to the well and invited more Canadian comics to visit, including Trevor Boris a little while back and more recently, DJ Demers. DJ was on this past week and he smashed it.
Then there’s Lachlan Patterson, who was the runner up on the most recent season of Last Comic Standing, the highest finish ever for a Canadian in that competition. Lachlan’s now headlining across North America and it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to see where his career is headed. The Lachlan Show is right around the corner, for sure. Oh, and who was a judge on Last Comic Standing? Russell Peters, Canada’s most celebrated export since Tim Horton’s set up shop down south.
Canadian comics, killing it all over. But what about non stand-up TV stuff, Ben? I’m glad you asked! Lauren Ash is a Second City Toronto alum and turning heads; she was one of the stars of ABC’s Super Fun Night and she’s ridiculously funny. Dan Guterman was once upon a time a Montreal-based stand up comic; he’s now based in LA, where he was most recently a writer on Community and before that one of the staff writers on The Colbert Report. That’s huge. Nathan Fielder has one of the funniest shows on television, Nathan For You. It’s a huge hit. He’s Canadian. And have I mentioned Stacey McGunnigle? Another Toronto Second City stand-out who’s been cast as the LEAD in an NBC sitcom? Amazing.
And there are so many I’m missing. So many. Samantha Bee from the Daily Show? Canadian. Dave Foley from the Kids in the Hall went south and became a huge deal and now he’s shooting a proper sitcom, Spun Out, in Canada. What do you mean by proper sitcom? I mean a show that doesn’t look “Canadian”. It’s a real deal US style sitcom and I’d say at least a dozen Canadian comics are collecting pay cheques from that show. Same with Gerry Dee. His Mr. D is a really really funny show. And it’s Canadian. Steph Tolev, one half of our first Sketch Off champs Ladystache, just signed a deal with NBC. Canadian. Jon Lajoie sells out venues all over the world and his albums chart everywhere. Canadian.
Canadian comedy feels very cool right now. Canadian comics aren’t just regarded as funny; they’re looked at as influential, hip and trend-setting. Have we ever been able to make these claims? My buddy Ron Josol, who himself is currently touring the PLANET, has one of my favorite quotes about Canadian comedy. He’s often said that Canadian comics are like Shaolin monks, training non-stop without a fight. Seems as though the fight is coming to us now. And we appear to be more than ready.
And also, Norm MacDonald is the funniest human being on the planet.