2023 Comedy is Art. Festival

comedy is art artists are collaged eclectically on a pink background with red arrows used as a pattern.


In a Comedy is Art first, the festival’s opening night features back-to-back solo shows by acclaimed artists Aliya Kanani and Al Val. Two totally different styles make for one hilarious night. 

Work in Progress with Aliya Kanani: A night of comedy paired with some juicy life hacks! 

With her mischievous personality and playful delivery, Aliya will keep the laughs coming while she takes you on her journey of self-reflection. What could be better than comedy and life hacks all rolled in one? Add a tiny little existential crisis somewhere in the middle and we’ve got ourselves a show!

Riffs On Riffs with Al Val: An Evening of Comedy and Music

Rising Canadian comedy starlet Al Val departs from her usual standard of fast-talking, body-flailing standup comedy to a more intimate and diverse performance. Watch  with glee as she intersperses her anecdotal comedy act with high-flying improvised rock guitar jams – Val’s talent for improvisation, both in comedy and music, on full display!

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From acclaimed comedian, writer & director Kirsten Rasmussen, Music, Then Comedy is a night of improvised comedy inspired by the live music sing/songwriter Lane Webber and  featuring a stacked lineup of improvisers: Tyra Banda, Brandon Hackett, Monica Garrido Huerta, Leigh Cameron, Ben Sosa Wright, and Rasmussen herself. 

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The Spice Girls of Comedy, the Tita Collective, are back with a brand new musical comedy! Ms. Titaverse is about a beauty pageant, but funnier, angrier and with much more chicken adobo.

Tita Collective is an all-Filipina collective composed of award-winning playwrights, comedians, musicians, dancers, theatre makers and actors: Ann Paula Bautista (Grow), Belinda Corpuz (Ursa: A Folk Musical), Ellie Posadas (Scarborough), Alia Rasul (Moro Girl), and Maricris Rivera (Short Dances). They explore different mediums to tell the stories about the Filipin* diaspora. Through theatre, comedy, music, and movement, the Titas aspire to tell stories that: thoughtfully honour and celebrate their roots and history, explore their identities as Filipinas, represent the narratives of the Philippine diaspora in an inclusive and respectful way, and nurtures and unites community through joy and laughter. 

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Born out of a need for diverse voices and perspectives in the comedy industry, THE MINORITY REPORT began as a virtual quarantine-relief comedy show. When the time came to evolve into live shows the cast continued to produce inclusive commentary on today’s changing cultural landscape. Catch this one-of-a-kind show LIVE at Comedy is Art featuring Jean Paul, Cedric Newman, Jay Martin, Crystal Ferrier, and Keesha Brownie. This funny, fast-paced, and timely sketch comedy show provides different POVs from different POCs (People of Comedy). 

The MINORITY REPORT is a show that won’t speak for ONE; it’s a show that will speak to ALL.

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Gather for a night of laughs with comics from all walks of life. Taking inspiration from Pow Wows (a celebration deeply ingrained within Indigenous culture) and intertribal dances (where everyone is welcomed to the dance ground), INTERTRIBAL is a celebration of the multicultural country that is Canada.

With comics hailing from across the world, this show features Kevin Shawanda, Clif Knight, Rush Kazi, Denise B. McLeod, Danish Anwar, Evangelia Alexopoulos and Kenny Robinson.

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The Theatre Centre recognizes comedy as a distinct artform and its annual festival offers artists the space, time, resources, and platform that comedy deserves.

For comedians, the only way to know if a joke is working is to put it out in front of people and see if it makes them laugh. That degree of vulnerability, that lack of anything else to hide behind – that’s what makes comedy one of the bravest things out there.

Not only do we open this conversation annually through the Comedy is Art festival, we also dedicate at least one Residency spot to a comedian and support local comedians as much as we can. You can further support Comedy is Art by making a donation. Any amount, small or large, goes a long way in allowing us to continue our work!

Photos from past festivals:

Photo credit: liza paul (Aria Etienne), Tita Collective (by Roya Del Sol), Past Event photos by Kaytee Dalton


Performance Dates

Comedy is Art

A declaration and a festival.

*The 2023 Comedy is Art festival tickets are on sale now! 

Comedy is Art features some of the best comedians in Toronto and sends a clear message: comedy should be taken seriously!

Launched at The Theatre Centre in 2019, the inaugural festival responded to barriers within the comedy community, including the overall desire to professionalise the sector. While Canada is responsible for exporting some of the world’s greatest comedic talents, comedy isn’t recognized as an art form by public arts funders. Though comedians are invited to apply as theatre artists, they’re immediately at a disadvantage, shoe-horning themselves into definitions and structures that don’t fit.

Excited by the advocacy work being done by our friend Sandra Battaligni, and the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians, The Theatre Centre wants to help change that. 

Comedy is one of the most undervalued art forms there is. Musicians get to rehearse in private to perfect their craft; the same is true for dancers, actors, acrobats – all these performing artists have the luxury of getting things just right in the rehearsal hall.

For comedians, the only way to know if a joke is working is to put it out in front of people and see if it makes them laugh. That degree of vulnerability, that lack of anything else to hide behind – that’s what makes comedy one of the bravest things out there.

Returning to the stage (and coming to your screens for the first time) in 2021, the revamped festival combines live comedy with the digital realm, offering a week-long program of hilarious comedians you can catch in person or streamed to your home.

We programmed artists who will make you laugh, make you think, make you laugh, make you feel, make you laugh some more – and that’s exactly what you can expect.

Comedy is Art is generously supported by:

Kingfisher Foundation

Photos by Kaytee Dalton, Krissia Valiente & Anonymous

2023 line-up

Aliya Kanani, Al Val, Kirsten Rasmussen, Lane Webber,  Tyra Banda, Brandon Hackett, Monica Garrido Huerta, Leigh Cameron, Ben Sosa Wright, Ann Paula Bautista, Belinda Corpuz, Ellie Posadas, Alia Rasul, Maricris Rivera, Jean Paul, Cedric Newman, Jay Martin, Crystal Ferrier, Keesha Brownie, Kevin Shawanda, Clif Knight, Rush Kazi, Denise B. McLeod, Danish Anwar. All on one stage for one week only! Read More

2022 line-up

TallBoyz; Brandon Ash-Mohammed; Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll; Tracy Hamilton; Danny Martinello; Allie Pearse; Ahjanis Charley; Coko Galore; Brandon Hackett; Hisham Kelati; Sashka DC; Nkasi Ogbonnah; Paloma Nuñez; Kirsten Rasmussen; Sharjil Rasool; Guled Abdi; Giovanni Spina; Maricris Rivera; Jenny Raven; Chelsea Russell; Kathryn Kohut; Araya Mengesha; Samantha Mandaamin; Lena Recollet; Krysta Williams; Ozhawa Anung Kwe; Kevin Shawanda. Read More

2021 line-up

Brandon Ash-Mohammed; Joey Harlem; Anasimone George; Ben Sosa Wright; Ajahnis Charley; Martha Chaves; Harpreet Sehmbi; Jean Paul; Marie Sotto; Ryan Maglunob; Isabel Zaw-Tun; Zabrina Douglas; Nour Hadidi; Natalie Norman; Tamara Shevon; Keesha Brownie; Al Douglas; Kenny Robinson; Coko & Daphney Jo; liza paul; Monty Scott; Dena Jackson; Todd Graham; Adrienne Fish; Nick Reynoldson; Arthur Simeon. Read More

2019 line-up

TallBoyz; Congratulations! (Courtney Gilmour); Drop the Mic: Joke or Choke (Crystal Ferrier); Amigas Cheetahs (Ben Sosa Wright + Brandon Ash Mohammed); Yas Kween (Nelu Handa); Good Morning, Tonight (Aidan O’Loughlin + Karis Anderson); Deez Laughs (Derryck Birch); SHADE (Anasimone George).