Toronto's Next Big Comedic Thing
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Toronto’s Next Big Comedic Thing

Canada's Next Top Comic hails from Toronto and has a history of empathizing with stuffed animals. Meet Eric Andrews.

Photo by Lauren Hammersley.

We might be the least-liked city in Canada, but we turn out some pretty funny people. Toronto (and surrounding area) natives Will Arnett, John Candy, Jim Carrey, Eugene Levy, Mike Myers, Russell Peters, and comedy king-maker Lorne Michaels are all proof of this.

Eric Andrews, a 23-year-old stand-up comedian recently crowned “Canada’s Next Top Comic” in XM Satellite Radio’s contest, credits Toronto’s supportive comic community with the success he, and other local comedians, has achieved.

“Doing stand-up in Toronto can really open doors,” says the Bloorcourt Village resident. “It’s not really just a matter of who you know. If you are talented and you have the chance to get in front of producers, it will happen.”

This has been Andrews’ experience in his four years of performing in Toronto. He recently won a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Stand-up Newcomer, and was one of the Top 8 finalists in the “Great Canadian Laugh Off.” Today, Andrews is a regular at Yuk Yuks and has been featured on The Comedy Network, Much Music, Rogers TV, and Discovery Channel’s Prank Science.

Described on his Facebook page as “a clean cut and well-bred young man whose charm is an instant killer,” he’s the kind of nice-guy entertainer you want to root for. His style is “awkward” and sets are based on Andrews trying to “make sense” of what he describes as the “craziness in my head.”

“My style is different than most people,” Andrews explains. “I feel very weird. Maybe it’s because I am an only child and have an imaginative and creative mind.”

As an example, Andrews shares a story from his childhood in Brampton.

“I had 140 stuffed animals and a bunk bed. They would fill the lower bunk, and each night I would pick my 10 favourite to sleep with on the top bunk. However, sometimes I would feel bad, so I’d just sleep with them all in the lower bunk.”

Raised by a single mother after his parents split up, Andrews is close with both parents, who have been very supportive of his career, if not always on board with his humour.

“I was doing a big show and had invited my entire family. The set had some incest jokes in it, including one about being sexually attracted to my mother,” Andrews says. “It referenced the fact that I lived with her and may have had some sexual feelings. I looked out at the audience and spotted my mom after that joke. She wasn’t laughing.”

Even in light of this famous “know your audience” slip-up, Andrews has come a long way since his early days. His first stand-up performance could only be described as a flop.

“I got on stage, sat on the stool and looked straight at the light. It was all I could see. When you are on stage, and all you can see is that light and nobody is laughing, it is as if you are alone,” Andrews says. “It was the same feeling people describe when they are near death.”

So far he’s managed to avoid going gently toward the light and has survived the scene, quick to point out that there’s a lot of other talented up-and-comers in Toronto who have, too. The kind of sensitive soul who feels guilty about hurting the feelings of inanimate objects, Andrews is almost apologetic about his success, and reminds Toronto comics that there’s lots of success—and talent—to go around.

“Everyone has a different style and a different story to tell,” says Andrews. “Everyone likes something different, so keep being you.”

Andrews is doing stand-up at Supermarket tomorrow night (November 24) at sketch comedy troupe The Boom’s show. Doors open at 8:30 p.m and the cover is $10.

CORRECTION: November 23, 2011, 2:30 P.M. This story originally misspelled Mike Myers’ name. We regret the error.