They say laughter is the best medicine, so get ready for a healing dose. From now until Sunday, the Halifax ComedyFest treats the city to 31 comics who will make you laugh across five venues. Legends like Cathy Jones, Derek Edwards, Elvira Kurt and Sean Cullen are showcased alongside up-and-comers like Aisha Alfa, Ivan Decker and Nathan MacIntosh. With its prime-time CBC TV pedigree and rep among comics as the best comedy festival in the country after Montreal's Just For Laughs, you can't miss this chance to chuckle.
"The Halifax ComedyFest is awesome because it takes some of the best comedic talent from across North America and brings them to the east coast," says MacIntosh, who's originally from Halifax, living in Toronto and was named one of the best comics of 2015 by Exclaim! magazine. "It also gives me an excuse to come home, go to every job I quit in Bayers Lake and tell my old managers, I told you I was gonna be a comedian!" Told right, there are few things in life funnier than spite.
"Festivals are so much fun to perform at because they are like summer camp for comedians," says Alfa, a Nigerian-Canadian living in LA who has appeared on NBC, MUCH, MTV and more. She's returning to Halifax after a killer set at the 2014 Halifax Pop Explosion. "Festivals give the opportunity for people who may not be huge fans of comedy to participate in the fun. Hopefully it turns them into fans for life, or at least they'll get to hear a fart joke or two."
Between All Star shows with returning host Mark Critch at Casino Nova Scotia, club shows at Yuk Yuk's and a free show on Friday at the Halifax Central Library, the festival is jam-packed with comics whose diverse styles highlight the impressive range of stand-up comedy.
#Barbie is finally making dolls with realistic body shapes. In response, GI Joe has launched "Out of shape drone operator Joe"— Ivan Decker (@ivandecker) January 29, 2016
"I tend to have more of an observational style," says Vancouver's Decker, a Halifax first-timer but Just For Laughs veteran and regular on CBC Radio's The Debaters. "I joke about things that happen in between what people talk about, like how upset everybody gets on the internet about everything. All we do is fight with each other, but then we share enjoyment over videos of cats falling off of chairs."
Comics say our local audiences are always welcoming. Plus, jesters from Halifax, like MacIntosh and Kyle Hickey, are excited to show off their comedy roots.
I'm starting to hate James Bond. 'Martini. Shaken, not stirred.' Just say 'shaken', idiot. They get it. 'Burger. Cooked. Not raw.''...Yeah.'— Nathan Macintosh (@Nathanmacintosh) November 19, 2015
"You get to see friends from all over the country and the world and do what you love to do, which is, perform," says Alfa. "I loved the city because everyone was super-cool. I partied my face off and I ate the most delicious, messiest donair that I still dream about to this day. I can't wait to repeat that." Neither can we.
To Sunday, April 30
Various times and venues
Tickets at halifaxcomedyfest.ca