Arts Seen – week of Sept 5 2013

The YYComedy Festival gets underway on September 9 and its second year on the city’s comedy calendar features some big names from both near and far. Last year due to Calgary 2012 organizer Harry Doupe says the festival stuck to a more local mandate. This year the festival expanded its parameters and focused on bringing in the best talent available regardless of location — and yes that still includes local talent.

“We’ve stepped it up a great deal I think in terms of both budget and overall scope” he says. “We opened it up to all the best people we can get.”

We challenged Doupe who is an accomplished comedian himself to pick some highlights from the weeklong festival. Of course he says it’s all good but agreed to share some of the shows he is most proud of putting together.

Two of the comedians on the bill Andy Kindler and Levi MacDougall (pictured) were among three named by New York Times Magazine as the top alternative comics in the world. Kindler has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman multiple times and is a regular at the Just for Laughs festival. The award-winning MacDougall got his start at Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre Company. Not only will both be at the festival but they will be performing together for two shows at Loose Moose itself on Thursday September 12. “Getting Andy is great for me” says Doupe. “He’s a comic’s comic.”

Doupe also singles out the Canadian Champs of Comedy Show on Saturday September 14 featuring six acts that have all previously won best male or female standup at the Canadian Comedy Awards: Derek Edwards Nikki Payne Steve Patterson Pete Zedlacher Kristeen Von Hagen and Ron Sparks. The show will be hosted by Canada’s Kevin McDonald of Kids In The Hall fame. “To be able to package that many award-winning comics all on one show is awesome” Doupe says.

He also picks another show pairing two of those champs: Sparks the multiple award-winning star of MuchMusic’s Video on Trial and its spin-off Stars on Trial and Von Hagen another multiple award-winner with multiple TV appearances under her belt. Sparks won best male standup and Von Hagen won best female standup at the 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards last October but Doupe says this is the first time the two have teamed up for a show. Combine that with an intimate venue — Lolita’s Lounge — and Doupe predicts a memorable evening. (or evenings as it runs both September 11 and 12).

And that brings us to the main event the YYComedy Festival Gala at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Sunday September 15. Hosted by Dave Foley ( Kids In The Hall Newsradio ) with a special appearance by McDonald the gala will showcase many of Canada’s most acclaimed comedians: former champs Edwards Payne Patterson and Zedlacher; Second City veterans Naomi Snieckus ( Mr. D George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight ) and Matt Baram ( Seed ) of the acclaimed National Theatre of the World improv troupe; local standup artist Jebb Fink and formally local standup artist Allyson Smith who now lives in Britain.

There is much more to choose from but you’ll have to pick for yourself ( yycomedy.ca ).