Published Feb 04, 2019There's a lot of snow out there, but some things are worth braving the cold for — like the next instalment of Exclaim! and Comedy Records monthly standup comedy showcase, which takes place on Thursday, February 7 at Wenona Lodge in Toronto (1069 Bloor St. W.) at 9 p.m.
Ahead of the show, we spoke with this month's featured comics Faisal Butt, Laura Leibow and Jason Cooper about their comedy, inspirations and how they've been dealing with this inclement weather.
Toronto-based comic Faisal Butt is originally from Montreal, which means this weather makes him feel at home. "I am thriving in it," he says of the recent snowstorm. "I only need to remind myself of that time that rich kids got bamboozled into spending thousands of dollars thinking they would get to see Blink-182 and Lil Yachty on a beach in the Bahamas, that gets me through it every time."
Of the three comics in this upcoming showcase, Butt is the lone returnee, and promises a newly refined approach on his life and outlook. "I want to be able to talk about my life without being so irreverent," he says. "In six minutes, I can cover accidentally smoking heroin, Uber and having a four-year-old. I'd rather talk about how I write rappers in prison, the follies of the electorate college and purposely smoking heroin."
But some old habits die hard. One month into the year, Butt is finding himself struggling with his new year's resolutions. "I want to be able to write a lot and stay disciplined, but the fact that it took me seven days to answer these [interview] questions is letting me know clearly I have a lot of work ahead of me. I wish I could be a patient as Matt has been! Oh, and to stop smoking weed with strangers after shows."
Butt will be taking The Win at Life Mega Expo, which premiered at last year's Toronto Fringe Festival, on tour this summer, along with recording an album. As for more aspirations, Butt says he wants "to be cast in something that doesn't require me to be 'goofy' or a 'dork with a heart of gold' or 'a terrorist.'" Please don't approach him after the show, joint in hand.
Toronto born-and-raised comic Laura Leibow came to comedy honestly. "I was one of four Jewish kids in my grade at school and I think I ended up leaning into the 'Jewish comedian' stereotype a little," she recalls. She also sought out comedy from "being weird and wanting to be in an industry where that's fine."
As 2019 rolls onward, Leibow is staying busy with plenty of comedic endeavours. "I've been spending a solid amount of time travelling to various cities to perform standup with Yuk Yuk's. My sister Amanda and I have a podcast coming out called Family Therapy. I'm still co-running my satirical news site, UNoriginal.ca, with Brittany Toole and Lorena Ledezma. I produce a monthly comedy show at the Burdock with Bethany Daniels called 'Date Night Comedy.' We feature Toronto's best queer and BIPOC comics. Lastly, I may be publishing some comedic content for a newspaper. That's still up in the air though."
With so many activities on the go, it can be tough for someone like Leibow to wind down. Thankfully, she's found something that helps her relax and focus: kinetic sand. She says, "I happened upon it at the Discovery Gallery — fancy name for the kiddie area — in the ROM and it was super fun to play with. It really helped me calm down; you know, like when you jingle keys at a baby. Now when I'm stressed, my boyfriend says, 'Why don't you play with your sand?' and it makes me feel good and cool."
Another way she blows off steam is through archery, which she purportedly uses to deal with all this snow. "The snow needs to see you as its equal, both in terms of threat and power," she says with conviction. "If you shoot a bow and arrow with precision and finesse, the snow understands that you're not to be underestimated."
Jason Cooper also came into comedy as a result of his upbringing. "When I was very little and shared a room with my brother, our parents would put on comedy albums for us to listen to before we fell asleep," he reveals. "Looking back, it was clearly a tactic to keep us from fighting with each other, but either way, I was hooked."
Winter strikes fear in the hearts of many, but few more than Cooper, who claims that it's the season where Mother Nature personally delivers him some karmic payback. "I'd say it's more the puddles the melted snow have created that I have been dealing with personally. I have bad puddle karma," admits Cooper. "In high school, I accidentally drove through a puddle that soaked an entire family from head to toe, Seaworld splash-zone style. So any day the snow melts, my head is on a swivel in the streets, because I know there is a drive-by puddle splash with my name on it."
Years later, Cooper remains morally abject. "I actually stole my New Year's resolution from my friend," he says, scandalously. Said resolution? "To 'give'r' in 2019. Which I thought was such a perfectly Canadian way to say he was going to try hard in all his endeavours." Despite his scoundrel nature, things seem to have been going well so far for Cooper. "So far it's been pretty easy to stick to. Mainly because it is kind of vague and it also doesn't involve any exercise. Which in my opinion is key to a successful resolution."
Stay warm with these three comedians on Thursday, February 7 at the Wenona Lodge. A $10 ticket includes a pint of Steamwhistle. You can buy tickets in advance here.