This week, live comedy intersects with TV talk shows, horror films, books, magic, art, and more.
Urban Planner is your weekly curated guide to what’s on in Toronto—things that are local, affordable, and exceptional.
Tuesday October 11
A local author (or a group of them) will be $15,000 richer by the end of the Toronto Book Awards, which is celebrating its 42nd year of recognizing the best published works by Torontonians in the past year, in both fiction and non-fiction. A 6 p.m. reception will be held with the eight finalists and their guests, and the award ceremony will take place at 7 p.m.; tickets are freely available by reservation via the Toronto Public Library’s website (or EventBrite). Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street), 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. awards ceremony, FREE.
There’s been some big changes in comic Chris Locke’s life since we profiled him; he’s a parent now. But it would be more accurate to say that his comedy has mutated; he still vacillates between “party dude” and riffing on his schlubby “hit,” only now there’s expectations of responsibility to subvert. He’s releasing his sophomore stand-up album, Demons Are Eating My Head, with an album release party tonight, with guests including his co-parent, Kathleen Phillips (Sunnyside, Mr. D), plus a half-dozen fellow Laugh Sabbath comics like Jackie Pirico and Tom Henry. The Drake Hotel Underground (1150 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $10 (includes album).
There’s a phenomenon called “Weird Twitter,” and “Jomny Sun” is one of its brightest stars. Jonny Sun, a U of T grad working on his PhD at MIT, is giving longer form comedic writing a go with Dead End, a play about two hapless apocalypse survivors trapped in a hallway with a curiously unmotivated zombie. Chris Wilson and Christian Smith are likeable losers, and Ceridwen Kingstone impressive as a shambling corpse that has to shamble in inches to service the plot. That plot, which starts with a tense and dryly funny “voice over” in the dark, bleeds tension as the two main characters begin to resemble Vladimir and Estragon from Waiting for Godot. Twitter fans may appreciate the subversion of genre tropes Sun’s playing with; the generally curious may want to attend a PWYC Tuesday performance. Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst), 8 p.m., $25-$30 (Tues. PWYC).
Wednesday October 12
The City’s Planning Division plans to share some of the results of its multi-year Public Life Study with the public being studied at the Making Cities For People meeting and talkback. The ambitious goal of the study is to knowledgeably manage growth in the core for the next 50 years, and the evening will feature presentations from such guests as chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, and Park People‘s Jake Tobin Garrett. U of T Health Sciences Building (155 College Street), 6 p.m., FREE.
TIFF is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the expansive Star Trek franchise this year with a slew of special programming, include a Trek Talks series. The first, “An Astronaut’s Voyage To The Frontier,” takes place tonight with special guest Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. Lunchtime and evening talks follow on Wednesday concerning the series’ impact on science, the arts, and diplomacy. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 6:30 p.m., $17-$23.50.
Dora-winning playwright Kat Sandler’s latest production is a collaboration with Moses Znaimer’s Zoomer Media, which has given the indie darling free rein of a studio space in their Liberty Village complex. Sandler is using the space for the first full production of Late Night, a biting comedy about a longtime talk show host (Alon Nashman) who’s reluctantly retiring in a live broadcast that will announce his successor (Kat Letwin). Naturally, everything goes wrong. Clearly inspired by the late-night wars (and the minor controversy of Samantha Bee not being considered as Jon Stewart’s replacement for The Daily Show), Sandler tackles ageism, sexism, and other swiftly changing mores to hilarious affect, using the stage and live broadcast feed to tell the story via multiple simultaneous mediums. Some of Zoomer’s target market may find this multi-tasking distracting. For the millennials who likely won’t, but don’t have boomer capital, there are discount shows on Wednesdays and Sundays. Zoomer Hall (70 Jefferson Avenue), to October 23, 8 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. matinee, $25-$50.
Illustration by Sasha Plotnikova/Torontoist.
Thursday October 13
Torontoist alum John Semley’s new book, This Is A Book About Kids In The Hall, gets a reading and release party tonight at the Royal, followed by a screening of the Kids’ cult film Brain Candy. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the film, which was turbulent behind the scenes for the troupe but has aged well, and is now almost as beloved as the TV series that propelled the troupe to stardom. The Royal Cinema (608 College Street), 8 p.m., $10.
Against the Grain Theatre, which produces cutting-edge opera shows in unorthodox spaces, is launching a new Opera Pub series, with some light operatic entertainment by emerging and established talent. The company, which goes to great efforts to dispel much of the elitist stigma of modern opera, plans to host these monthly (no doubt hoping to build up their grassroots fan base the way Singular Sensation’s weekly open mic has for musical theatre). The Amsterdam Bicycle Club (54 The Esplanade), 9 p.m., FREE.
A sold-out hit during this summer’s Fringe Festival, Convergence Theatre is remounting The Unending, their triptych of one-act plays (adaptations of two rare August Strindberg and Samuel Beckett works, plus a new one by Convergence’s Julie Tepperman), that begin upstairs at famed brunch spot Aunties & Uncles, and then travel to two secret locations within walking distance. Those secret locations should be much more pleasant in cooler weather, though you should dress appropriately to be outside. Aunties & Uncles (74 Lippincott Street), 7 p.m. & 9:15 p.m., $30.
(Note: The wording has been changed to ensure the locations’ secrecy.)
Friday October 14
Drunk Feminist Films is back with a surefire crowd pleaser for the approaching Halloween season: 90s teen “cinematic masterpiece” The Craft. Aisha Brown hosts both Toronto screenings, with other comedic guests. The organizers also promise “a custom feminist drinking game, speed tarot readings, speed palm readings and washable body painting… costumes, witch-wear and sober feminists always welcome.” The Royal Cinema (608 College Street), doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m., $12-$15 (Friday & Saturday).
Is mime dead? Theatre company Bad New Days doesn’t think so, and has created two new shows showcasing the physical theatre art. Three Red Days explores Russian composer Shostakovich’s run-in with Soviet authorities, and Italian Mime Suicide is based on a note left by an Italian mime who leapt off a building, The first play, set to a Shostakovich recording, makes subtle allusions through dance and physicality to the absurdity of life under a totalitarian regime, but the second is especially fascinating, with creator Adam Paolozza doing several mime turns that are surtitled and accompanied by a live band, and aided by his capable cast, especially a physically adroit Rob Feetham. The company is named after a Walter Benjamin quote (“let’s not talk about the good old days, but the bad new ones”), and in an effort to encourage new audiences and conversations, they’re making ALL shows pay what you want, after the performance. The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West), 8:30 p.m, PWYWant (all shows).
Veteran Montreal rockers Plants And Animals‘ latest album, Waltzed In From the Rumbling, comes after a four-year break from extensive touring, with just a couple of festival appearances since the tour for 2012’s The End Of That. They’ll be playing more stripped-down rock and roll versions of the lush new album’s songs tonight, with openers Kiwi Jr. Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West), 8:30 p.m. doors, $16 in advance (at Soundscapes, Rotate This, & Ticketfly).
Weekend October 15-16
The founders of beloved cult film emporium Suspect Video may have closed its doors, but their love for horror films both obscure and celebrated lives on in their Horror-Rama festival, a weekend convention for all things gory and genre-fixated. Celebrity guests range from Broadway actor Tovah Feldshuh (who recently gained a new cadre of fans for her role on The Walking Dead) to Ilsa: She-Wolf Of The SS‘s Dyanne Thorne, and after day one’s smorgasbord of screenings, vendors, and meet and greets, there’ll be an official after party at the Bovine Sex Club, featuring psychic duo The Sentimentalists, and host Geretta Geretta (DEMONS). Hyatt Regency Hotel (370 King Street West), 10-6 p.m., $15-$100.
Toronto’s Michael Gelbart rose to fame here on the strength of his stand-up, then emigrated to L.A., where he’s worked steadily for the last decade as a writer and performer. But when deciding to tape his upcoming TV special, All New Greatest Hits, Gelbart decided to come back to Toronto, in part because, he explained on Breakfast Television, because of his opposition to incoming Canadian content law changes, and his desire to make his production as Canadian as possible. Audiences can see how that translates to his stage show in two sets Saturday night. Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street), 8 p.m & 10 p.m., $15.
Two of Toronto’s best kept musical secrets–they’re the musicians that other Canadian music cognoscenti like Junior Boys and Brave New Waves’ longtime host Patti Schmidt cite when asked for their favourite artists—share a bill tonight at new venue Ratio, on College. Marker Starling (formerly Mantler) and Sandro Perri will both play intimate sets, with Matias Rozenberg (alum of The Phonemes) opening up the night. Ratio (283 College Street), doors at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m., $10.
Charlotte Mars and Garrett Jamieson’s art show on Sunday kicks off at 2 p.m., leading up to a celebratory show Sunday night, featuring Jamieson as host, with guests that include Nick Reynoldson doing magic, Todd Graham doing comedy, Sprattacus providing music, and more. If it all sounds like an unusual combination—Art! Comedy! Magic! Music!—well, it seems to suit the artwork (and the artists). The Great Hall (1087 Queen street West), art show 2 p.m. onwards, comedy & magic 9 p.m., FREE.
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CORRECTION: OCTOBER 12, 3:04 PM The Planning Division’s meeting on October 12 has been postponed due to Yom Kippur.
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