Jet planes, comic heroes, fire breathers, and more in this long weekend edition; plus Second City's new revue, spicy food and sports by the water, and 60 years of life (drawing).
Friday, September 1
With the ascendancy of comics and “genre”-influenced properties on the big and small screens, it’s getting to the point that it seems almost as many celebrities are showing up for Fan Expo Canada as for the Toronto International Film Festival. Of the dozens of recognizable names slated to attend, we note some exceptional Canadians, including Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Stephen Amell (Arrow), and Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things). Other highlights of the expo include cast reunions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and 90s YTV show Student Bodies; a mass Spider-verse cosplay shoot; and performances by cartoon-loving musical acts The Cybertronic Spree, Wordburglar, and More or Les.
To September 3, Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building, 255 Front Street West), Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $10-$65 (single day passes).
The Hot & Spicy Food Festival, now in its 20th year, is the last long weekend festival of summer at the Harbourfront Centre. Most of the programming, including chef competitions for both professionals and kids, is free, as are sets by Matt Dusk, and a special bill of Toronto Blues Society acts.
To September 4, Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), Friday 6 p.m.-10:45 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, noon-11 p.m., Monday, noon-7 p.m., FREE-$24.75.
Each Second City revue cast is different, of course, but we can’t help feeling that the current half-dozen comics starring in Party Today, Panic Tomorrow have a new sort of chemistry. There’s plenty of clever and topical material, of course—an argument between a cyclist and SUV driver could have been ripped from your friend’s FB post; and a sketch clearly lampooning the couple who wrote about renovating a Parkdale rooming house for themselves in Toronto Life—but what we noted was the absence of stock “dating in the big city” sketches, and an increase in more intersectional identity pieces. Much credit surely goes to new director Leslie Seiler, a Second City veteran, who’s helped this cast, particularly returning performers, build on their strengths; Colin Munch is more loose and physical than in the previous Everything is Great Again, and a sketch in that show featuring Ann Pornel stripping off layers has morphed into a even more revealing and empowering bit featuring half the cast. We’re also treated to stand-outs like Pornel’s pop song clapback against harassment, Allana Reoch’s verklempt father of the bride, and some devastatingly funny short bits, like Brandon Hackett’s “going out” mirror exercise. Nadine Djoury and Devon Hyland round out the cast with some particularly wide-eyed and chipper character work.
Indefinite run, Second City Toronto (51 Mercer Street), Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m., Sunday, 7:30 p.m., $26 & up.
Saturday, September 2
Many of them have been spread out at other events across the GTA this summer; some have been globe trotting. The Toronto International BuskerFest, a fundraiser for Epilepsy Toronto, brings dozens of street performing acts under one big tent (and also, around the park), including local favourites like The Sentimentalists and Silver Elvis. Other programming includes a special Eid Festival on Friday, and a pop-up dining experience from Feed It Forward’s Chef Jagger Gordon.
To September 4, Woodbine Park (1695 Queen Street East), Friday, noon-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Monday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., PWYC (by donation to Epilepsy Toronto).
If you live in the downtown core, you’ll get to experience some of the sights and sounds of The Canadian International Air Show, whether you want to or not. So you might as well embrace it, and find a viewing spot down by the water, whether that’s on the CNE grounds (and don’t forget, it’s your last weekend for the Ex, too, including special events like a performance by A Tribe Called Red, and the Labour Day Parade), or somewhere free. The Snowbirds are back, of course, and other highlights include a search and rescue demonstration from a CH-146 Griffon, and a CF-18 painted with the Canada 150 colours.
To September 3, Canadian National Exhibition Grounds (210 Princes Boulevard), Saturday-Monday, noon-3 p.m., FREE-$19 (general grounds admission), $130-$1,595 (VIP Air show passes).
Veteran Toronto music act Omhouse (fronted by Steven Foster) released a new single, “Nursery,” back in May (and opened for faux-Radiohead playing OK Computer in July), so fans of the art-rocker probably hope to see more new material at tonight’s show, where they’re sharing a bill with the excellent Dorothea Paas, and Thanya Iyer.
The Baby G (1608 Dundas Street West), doors at 9 p.m., PWYC.
Sunday, September 3
What to program down by the water when the Air Show is on? Maybe some energetic sporting events and demonstrations that won’t be too badly interrupted by this noise? The Active Ontario Festival features a schedule of workshops, demonstrations (from ParaSport Ontario, the Girl Guides, and more), and music performances (which, like the yoga with your dog workshops, are all scheduled after the Air Show is over).
To September 4, Ontario Place (955 Lake Shore West), Friday, 3 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., FREE.
Last week, head writer Allison Hogg had her farewell show with The Sketchersons, who produce the weekly Sunday Night Live; Hogg is shortly en route to Halifax to write for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, making new head writer Alessandra Vite the last remaining cast member from 2013. Vite and the current cast (whose new members include a comic we profiled recently) have Bad Dog Theatre’s Nicole Passmore guest hosting tonight’s Labour Day weekend show, which may go late (but you don’t have to work Monday morning, right?).
Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West), 9:30 p.m., $10.
Monday, September 4
The annual Labour Day Parade is the last major event of the Ex, commemorating the rights and protections that were earned by unions since the first parade back in 1872. Hot tip: you may very well be a member of a union that marches (even ACTRA Toronto, for you struggling actor types), and marching in the parade gets you onto the CNE grounds for free…
From University Avenue and Queen Street, to Exhibition Place Dufferin Gates (Dufferin Street and Springhurst Avenue), parade departs University Avenue at 9:30 a.m., FREE.
The Electric Island festival was supposed to run all summer, but the Toronto Islands being flooded and mostly inaccessible until almost August put a damper on those plans. But the last two days of the festival has a LOT of EDM acts crammed onto the bill, so if you’re trying to make the most of the shortened Island season, this is a good bet.
To September 4, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Sunday-Monday, 1 p.m.-11 p.m., $45-$70.
Tuesday, September 5
Experimental music jam Track Could Bend, organized monthly by Mechanical Forest Sounds’ Joe Strutt, pairs up musicians and acts that may never have met before, to see what sort of magical synthesis happens. Tonight’s show is the 30th installment, and features brand new acts MAMALIA, Lash Pandiculations, and jiggy jiggy jiggy.
The Steady (1051 Bloor Street West), doors at 8 p.m., show from 9-11 p.m., PWYC.
The monthly Spelling Bae event is just what you might think it is: a spelling bee, with a cute twist (that twist being mainly alcohol). Organizer and host Eli Burnstein will take all comers willing to compete (to capacity) as of 8 p.m., and the competitive action begins at 8:30 p.m.
The Ossington (61 Ossington Avenue), sign-up at 8 p.m., bae at 8:30 p.m., FREE.
Wednesday, September 6
Sixty years is a heckuva run for almost anything, but particularly for a regularly occurring drop-in class. The 60 Years of Life Drawing exhibition is a one-night-only reception and showing that pulls from past work generated in the class started by Tom Hodgson in 1957 (and continued for the past 30 years by Walt Ruston); next week, the regular class, with its $10 drop-in fee, will resume.
Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West), 7 p.m., FREE.
The In Dialogue exhibition features the work of nearly a dozen Indigenous artists, who use a variety of mediums—sculpture, video installation, painting—to explore “new ways of understanding and being Indigenous in contemporary contexts.” The opening reception, which is bundled with the opening of two other exhibitions (Making Models, and Far and Near: the Distance(s) between Us), takes place tonight in the Hart House Quad at University of Toronto.
University of Toronto Art Centre (7 Hart House Circle), 6 p.m.-8 p.m., FREE.
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