Posts Tagged ‘Wombat Wednesdays’

Wombats in Love / Wavelength

February 12th, 2009 Steve No comments

(Note: I’m mentioning last night’s Wombat Wednesdays Valentine’s special after the fact, because a) February curator Magali Meagher has several more Wombat Wednesdays scheduled this month, and b) several performers have upcoming shows, including Gentleman Reg’s in-store and CD release, and Levi Macdougall & Katie Crown at Laugh Sabbath and, well, my shows. The Wombats in Love show was slated for a profile yesterday on the site, but I’ve been a busy fella, and I fell behind; mea culpa. If it’s any consolation, I missed seeing last night’s show, including the rare appearance by Mary Margaret O’Hara, as well. If you’ve been reading the weekly updates or calendar event listings, you’d have known in advance last night was gonna be special – though that’s still no excuse for my tardiness. – Steve )

Duos included husband and wife Bob Wiseman & curator Magali Meagher, friends Reg Vermue & Jim Guthrie, and Mary Margaret O'Hara and some lucky sod (seriously, the lady's a legend).

Duos included husband and wife Bob Wiseman & curator Magali Meagher, friends Reg Vermue & Jim Guthrie, and Mary Margaret O'Hara and some lucky sod (seriously, the lady's a legend).

There’s been a few editions of (un)likely duos shows around town the past few years, mostly comedy related, and certainly, this month’s curator of Wombat Wednesday, and her husband, Bob Wiseman, have their fingers in the pie that is Toronto comedy. But this special edition of The Tranzac Club series was very much a music affair, and there were some terrific musicians lined up.

Human Highway – Moody Motorcycle

Gentleman Reg – You Can’t Get It back

Participants included Casey Mejica (of Ohbijou) and Samir Khan; Jim Guthrie (of Human Highway) and (Gentleman) Reg Vermue; David Dineen Porter (PDF Format); and comics Levi MacDougall and Katie Crown (Crown has played bass in the past with Meagher’s band The Phonemes). But the brightest star of the night was announced just a few days ago (I added it to the weekly update and event listing immediately, of course), when Mary Margaret O’Hara joined the bill. The reclusive Toronto musician, whose 1988 album (and only full LP to date) “Miss America” has been called one of the best records of the 20th century by rock critics from Mojo Magazine and elsewhere, was a late addition to the fundraiser for cancer research, adding star power to a show that already had plenty.

So, for a music fan, how do you top a show like that happening mid-week? Why, with the Wavelength anniversary celebrations, of course. The venerable alternative music series, well profiled this week in Eye Weekly by veteran writer and Two Koreas singer Stuart Berman, is celebrating its 450th edition (which officially happens on Sunday at Sneaky Dee’s with Foxfire headlining) with shows from Thursday to Sunday at 5 different venues, with a wildly varied slate of over 20 different bands, local and otherwise.

(More choice mp3s and info about the Wavelength celebrations after the “more”). Read more…

Laugh Sabbath Presents… Talent Show!

February 8th, 2009 Steve No comments

Sundays are usually, for me, the hardest night of the week to choose what to see. With theatre, I can always see a show another time – a matinee, later in the run, etc. Movies are even more flexible; while I’m a huge proponent of seeing a good film on the silver screen, it’s sometimes not until DVD that I get around to seeing films that I already expect I’ll enjoy. Music is a little tougher, though I can always console myself over a missed show that the band will usually play again soon if they’re local. But as comedy shows are typically unique, it’s see it or miss it, which leads to tough choices.

Comedian James Hartnett, normally more conservativley dressed and coiffed, hosts tonight's Talent Show at the Rivoli.

Comedian James Hartnett, normally more conservatively dressed and coiffed, hosts tonight's Talent Show at the Rivoli (photo by Joseph Fuda).

And Sundays are just packed, comedy wise, with no less than four quality weekly evening shows; improv shows Ghost Jail Theatre and Monkey Toast (which is bi-monthly, but still), sketch show Sunday Night Live, and variety series Laugh Sabbath (Thank God Bad Dog Theatre takes Sunday nights off).

I’ve previously mentioned Ghost Jail Theatre as being among Toronto’s premiere improv comedy shows in my Impromptu Splendor profile, and I’ve mentioned Comedy Bar’s flagship sketch show several times on this site, so Laugh Sabbath gets the pick as my first Sunday comedy profile.

Laugh Sabbath is a loose collective of Torontonian comics, mainly sketch and stand-up, who banded together several years ago to produce weekly Sunday shows at comedy institution The Rivoli. Patterned initially after the popular “Comedy And a…” series, which was a joint effort by sketch trio The Distractions (Levi Macdougall, Paul Schuck, and Tim Polley), sketch troupe Knock Knock(Who’s)There Comedy! and musician Bob Wiseman, the Laugh Sabbath series has gradually evolved into several distinct monthly shows. These monthly formats feature many of the collective’s members as hosts and guests, and also feature, as guests, some of the best comedy acts from around Toronto.

Those shows include “The Loner Show“, an “all solo no stand-up” character comic showcase hosted by Brian Barlow; “Let’s Get Hot!“, a loose talk show parody hosted by Chris Locke and featuring Aaron Eves on accordion; “The Hour of Power” a showcase series featuring longer sets from just a few choice guests, hosted by Sara Hennessey and Nick Flanagan; and tonight’s “Talent Show“, a variety show featuring stand-up, sketch, improv, video, and more, currently hosted by James Hartnett.

(More on tonight’s “Talent Show” after the break). Read more…

Weekly Update 258

February 7th, 2009 Steve 2 comments

dont-you-forget-cast2This week, there’s editions of the politically inflammatory theatre night The Wrecking Ball, and of the always popular odd lecture series Trampoline Hall; Magali Meagher curates a special Valentine’s inspired Wombat Wednesday event, featuring celebrity couples and odd pairs; Sean Cullen and Nick Flanagan bring their comedy shows (“The Sean Schau” and “Joke Club“, respectively) back to life at Comedy Bar; The overlooked indie gem “Wendy and Lucy” opens, as does the must-be-seen-in-3D adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline“; and Wavelength celebrates its 450th edition with four nights of music at five different venues from Thursday to Sunday, featuring hot acts like Slim Twig, Timbre Timbre, and The Diableros.

More about the week’s top draws in theatre, comedy, film and music, after the jump.

(Top to bottom, left to right – Kris Siddiqi, Lisa Brooke, Alistaire Forbes, Kurt Smeaton, and Sarah Hillier debut “Don’t You Forget About John Hughes” at Comedy Bar this Saturday night). Read more…

10,000 to Flight

January 21st, 2009 Steve No comments

I plan on doing an in-depth profile of PROJECTProject some time in the weeks to come, as for such a new show, it’s done a remarkable job in bringing different segments of the comedy community together, serving as a fertile training ground for some of the best of the new generation of improvisers and sketch comics working in Toronto (like Cream of Comedy nominee Alana Johnston), and helping some veteran performers add improv to their repertoire (like sketch comic and stand-up Pat Thornton, whose show “The Hot Boxdebuts next month on the Comedy Network).


But I’m going to shine a little spotlight on two of the founding members of PROJECTProject, Julie Dumais & Mark Andrada, since tonight they’ll be doing a rare set as their improv duo, 10,000 to Flight.

To quote myself – here’s what I wrote about them in a review of their 2007 Fringe show:

“10K2F is the utter chaos and lunacy that occurs when a technically polished performer who has mastered (and utilizes) all the “rules” of improv ( Julie Dumais) shares a stage with a performer who knows, but disdains (and takes great delight in breaking) most of said rules (Mark Andrada). The result is a gut-bursting show that routinely breaks the fourth wall, and can result in almost anything happening on stage.”

Julie Dumais & Mark Andrada

Julie Dumais & Mark Andrada

10,000 to Flight shows are very very difficult to describe, as, even more so than usual improv shows, they are never the same twice. Common elements do occur: the pair enjoy feeding their audience; they encourage the audience to leave their cell phones turned on (Andrada loves chatting with random, confused callers); and the laissez-faire attitude they take towards the notion of a “scene” starting or stopping (particularly Andrada) can be found as charming, or infuriating. They had several walkouts during their 2007 Fringe show, and some truly negative reviews. But most people who see a 10,000 to Flight show find themselves unable to resist the pair’s charms (their exceedingly positive press outweighs the exceedingly negative stuff), and the random occurrences the pair invite and encourage at their performances can end up as memorable highlights; at one performance at the Helen Gardiner Theatre, a unsuspecting pizza deliveryman named Farouk walked in on a crowd cheering his name, and called after leaving to thank the pair and the audience for making him feel so appreciated (you can read Dumais’ Fringe diary post about the night here).

Andrada and Dumais plan to relaunch their curated Manifesto series again soon, but for now, 10,000 to Flight sets remain a rare treat; other PROJECTProject highlights will happen this evening, too, like Adam Cawley’s (Game)Show, so tonight would certainly be a good night to check out the weekly Comedy Bar Wednesday showcase, if you’re rather see some improv over music.

Download Neko Case, save a kitty

January 21st, 2009 Steve 2 comments

I’d planned on writing about the Rainbow Market Square for today’s post, but since there are two well reviewed films opening there as of this weekend (“The Wrestler” and “Slumdog Millionaire“), I’m going to wait to do that properly next week.

Another thing I’m planning on doing? More posts, but shorties: the sort of posts that don’t require a (more) break. I’ll still be posting at least a couple of in-depth profile pieces every week, but they don’t all have to be as comprehensive as, say, my write-ups of Wombat Wednesdays (Maylee Todd and Gravity Wave are up tomorrow night!) or Impromptu Splendor (They’ve got guest Ted Dykstra for their Samuel Beckett show this Thursday!), though I’m awfully proud of those.

New Pornographer, Corn Sister, and all around cool cat Neko Case.

New Pornographer, Corn Sister, and all around cool cat Neko Case.

So, briefly; we’re a new blog, so we’ve still got plenty of bandwidth, and I’m hoping you and all your friends will start gobbling it up. Here’s how to start: Anti- Records is donating $5 to the Best Friends Animal Society for every blog that posts a free download of the first single from Neko Case’s new album, Middle Cyclone, between Jan. 14th and Feb. 4th.

I loves me some Neko; you can hear me whooping between songs if you listen closely to her album “The Tigers Have Spoken“, recorded live at Lee’s Palace and The Matador in 2004. And Neko loves Toronto; after all, her favourite backing band’s from here. Yes, the cash will go to an American animal lovers society, but Yankee cats are cute too, right? So, here’s the lovely Ms. Case’s newest – grab it until Feb. 4th.

Neko Case – People Got a Lotta Nerve

Oh, and here’s a kitty (a Torontonian one).

Pip, by Craz11 from the Flickr pool (

Pip, by Craz11 from the Flickr pool (

Update 255

January 17th, 2009 Steve No comments

This is the first update available exclusively through the website; the Yahoo Groups site will continue to exist solely as an archive of the last 5 year’s archives. After going through the update, please do poke around the site, and peruse some of the articles; many of them mention weekly recurring shows, and shows yet to appear on the Events Calendar (though that is my next website priority).

(The full week in Toronto’s performing arts events, after the jump!) Read more…

Wombat Wednesdays in January

January 14th, 2009 Steve 1 comment

Frankly, I find it shocking the website has been up for over a week, and this is my first music post. I’d planned to write posts about last weekend’s Rock n’ Roll Anniversary, Singing Lamb Launch, and Out of This Spark shows, but the update, and the new Event Calendar (move your mouse over it, why dontcha, and see what happens!) ate up all my waking time. So the next two days are going to be all about the music, starting with Wombat Wednesdays.

(That’s Basement Arms playing the Tranzac Main Hall in the vid above – Dwight Schenk lets loose with his signature growl at about the 4:45 mark).

(Ozzie marsupials, snakeskin motherf–ckers, a wave of gravy, and more, after the break.) Read more…

UPDATE 254 (Jan. 9th – Jan. 16th, 2009)

January 11th, 2009 Steve No comments

The first update posted to the site! A little late, but better that then never. Email to get on the weekly mailing list, if you aren’t already getting it.  Full listings follow below. Read more…