5 Must-See ‘Late Night’ Sets by Canadian Comics

Taylor Erwin Blog, Hall of Fame

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By: Taylor Erwin, Editor

Ever wonder why so many Canadian comics seem to come out of nowhere to destroy their Late Night debuts? Basically, there’s two reasons: i) Canada’s market is smaller and more competitive, so comics need to be incredibly original/persistent/talented and in-it-for-the-love to breakthrough, and ii) our comedy infrastructure supports an array of experimental rooms, show formats, and styles. In a nutshell, Canadian comics have a distinct advantage over our American counter-parts; we have the time to do anything we want and whatever it takes to find our voice because…well, there’s no Hollywood producer in the crowd looking for the next big thing, and we simply can’t (legally) move to LA or NYC without a ton of credits, (ie. without being truly great). For Canadian comics, it’s all or nothing.

In the Canadian comedy scene epicentre, Toronto, your comedy success depends solely on your sweat-equity. In fact, because Toronto’s population recently surpassed Chicago to become the fourth largest city in North America, the ratio of our limited industry opportunities to hungry comedians has never been more apparent. As a comic, you’ve got to love it- every day– because the odds are against you.

The above is all the more reason to love Canadian comedians who ‘break on through to the other side.’ You can rest assured knowing these comedians aren’t a flash in the pan; they’ve dedicated their lives to comedy and are in it for life. It’s always bigger and better things.

Look forward to the future works of the comics below. If nothing else, appreciate them as genuine artists who’ve demonstrated raw talent and the dedication to see it through. Or simply because they’ll make you laugh- because that’s always their goal.

Jon Dore – Conan, 11/11/10


The best adage to describe Jon Dore’s comedy is ‘the sky’s the limit.’ Jon constantly reinvents the format and our expectations of what stand up can be. His long-running history of imaginative sets trails back to his days at the Rivoli in Toronto, before cementing his comedy career with his 2009 set at Just For Laughs in Montreal.. Although, that was just icing Jon’s cake; his talent earned him his own show, The Jon Dore Television Show which aired for two seasons on the Comedy Network from 2007-2009 (which also featured Mark Forward, further down below).
Twitter: @TVsJonDore

Mark Little – Conan, 3/31/15

We believe Mark Little is one of the most prolific comedians in Canada. A born performer, Mark’s a beast on all fronts: stand up, improv, sketch and writing. Not even a week ago, Mark’s sketch troupe Get Some earned a $10K TV development deal. Over the past decade, Mark’s been a founding member of the sketch comedy group Picnicface, whose self-titled TV show ran for a season on The Comedy Network in 2012; he’s won Canadian Comedy Awards alongside Dan Beirne for his webseries Dad Drives, among others (both web series’, and awards); he’s opened for Paul F. Tompkins in both Canada and the U.S., and has appeared in the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival for the past five years, filming three gala performances in the process. Mark’s the real deal.
Website: www.marklittle.ca
Twitter: @MarkMarkLittle

DJ Demers – Conan, 12/1/14


DJ dropped a monster set at his debut on Conan O’Brien late last year. After years of grinding through Toronto’s scene and winning awards along the way, including the coveted Homegrown award in 2014 at Just for Laughs, DJ took his rightful place on the international stage. His personality and vibe makes him a great comic and host, as demonstrated in his own show The DJ Demers Show, as well as host on of AMI Sharp Focus. In 2011, DJ was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Stand-Up Newcomer, was a finalist on NBC’s Stand-Up for Diversity, a finalist for the Tim Sims Cream of Comedy Awards, and placed second in the 2012 Toronto Comedy Brawl. You can see DJ at Chuckle Co. shows in Toronto at Comedy Bar. Also, DJ wears hearing aids.
Visit DJ Online: djdemerscomedy.wordpress.com
Follow him on Twitter: @DJdemers

Mark Forward – Craig Ferguson, 7/15/14

Mark Forward hails from the same ‘choose your own adventure’ approach to comedy as his friend Jon Dore. Sure, you’ve probably seen him as a regular on CBC’s Mr. D, or on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, John Oliver’s Stand Up New York, or on any of his (many) Just For Laughs tapings. Maybe you remember seeing his bashful, solemn face on The Jon Dore Television Show, or reading his name among the winners of a Canadian Comedy Award nearly every year since 2006. Even if you put all those credits aside, after seeing Mark perform- you’d understand why he’s creating a legacy. It’s hard to explain with tact, so we’ll do the best we can…

Mark’s doing some next level s%*t. He’s absurd, imaginative, and fantastical. Plus, his commentary and persona serves as a reminder to our irrational constraints of the hybrid, purpose-serving comedian- he’s not someone who entertains from a soapbox, he entertains for the sake of entertainment. It’s refreshing.
Twitter: @MarkForwardd
Website: www.markforward.com/
Facebook:: Facebook.com/MarkForward

Phil Hanley, Craig Ferguson – 29/10/12


The first time I saw Phil Hanley was around eight years ago at the Ajax Yuk Yuks. Wearing his signature sweater and insisting on being called by his real life, not-made-up nickname “Donkey Hammer”, Phil’s hard-hitting one-liners and self deprecating style burned into my memory. Since then, Phil’s performed at Just For Laughs, was selected for the Comics-To-Watch Showcase as part of the New York Comedy Festival, performed on John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show for Comedy Central, and most recently, performed on The Pete Holmes Show. Great comic- great sweaters.
Website: www.philhanley.com/
Website: @PhilMHanley

Honorable Mentions:

Darrin Rose – Craig Ferguson, 3/10/14
Deanne Smith – Craig Ferguson, 5/14/13

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