The Barrie Examiner
Wednesday August 13, 2014
by Susan Doolan

Canadian comedian Shaun Majumder is among the headliners for the second annual Barrie International Comedy Festival next month. He is WELL known for multiple television shows, including his Comedy Central Presents specials, This Hour Has 22 Minutes as well as guest roles on Robson Arms, Da Kink in My Hair and The Republic of Doyle. He has also appeared at the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

There’s more laughter, more shows, and more events at this year’s Barrie International Comedy Festival.

The second annual event runs for five days in mid-September, with tickets and packages available now.

This year’s festival features two new events, including the Allandale Fall Fling and a Community Leadership Roast. The first is a free event which Arkady Spivak likens to an outdoor circus fair.

“It’s interactive with games, clowns, magicians,” he said. “It was very important for me to have a family event.”

The Community Leadership Roast turns a spotlight on people who wouldn’t normally be part of a comedy festival other than as a member of the audience.

The inaugural roast focuses on four community leaders — Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman, Barrie MP Patrick Brown, former Barrie MPP Rod Jackson and Barrie city councillor Alex Nuttall. It also features two women, including Shannon Murree, who was the recipient of last year’s Spirit Catcher Award, and Anna Small, who is a huge supporter of culture in Barrie.

Anything can happen at this ticketed event that includes a dinner at Liberty North. It could very well be the funniest event of the year.

Spivak, who is artistic producer of Talk Is Free Theatre, started the comedy festival last year as a way of attracting a broader audience. He wanted to appeal to a wide range of people, to be culturally diverse in terms of programming, and to be a tourist draw for the city.

“The idea was provide a home for a rather orphaned art form,” Spivak said. “Comedy is a distinctly Canadian art form (that is) not really considered a legitimate art form by presenters. I thought it would be wonderful for a theatre company to take it on. It’s an extension of what we do.

“What we can offer in comedy is more of a narrative background, more of a storyline,” he added. “Even standup has to be more scripted in nature.”

The Comedy Festival kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 17 with Bruce McCulloch, who brings a mix of stand-up, live music and scripted autobiographical elements to his new show Young Drunk Punk. The Canadian comedian, writer and director is known for the iconic Kids in the Hall television show.

Another headliner is Shaun Majumder. The Gemini Award-winning actor and comedian brings his show to Barrie on Saturday, Sept. 20. He is known for multiple television shows, including his Comedy Central Presents specials, This Hour Has 22 Minutes as well as guest roles on Robson Arms, Da Kink in My Hair and The Republic of Doyle. He has also appeared at the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

Fans of Walt Wingfield can look forward to the latest installment in the series about a stockbroker turned farmer on Sept. 19. Dan Needles, who lives outside of Collingwood, has his character (played by Rod Beattie) fending off a drought, water witches, a high-tech cattle drive, ground bees and more in an effort to replace a dried up well in Wingfield, Lost and Found.

In between there’s the all-native troupe Tonto’s Nephews, professional actors, writers and comedians who perform a mix of improv and sketch comedy. There is also a children’s show, The Three Musketeers, which will unfold in French and English at the same time.

The National Theatre of the World features Second City Theatre alumni. The troupe has won the Canadian Comedy Award six times for their unique stye of improvisation. The music and comedy duo of Bowser and Blue bring their show to Barrie on Sunday, Sept. 21. They have appeared numerous times at the Just for Laughs comedy festival as well as television shows on CBC and the Comedy Channel.

The festival also features local talent. Jason Allin and Andrea Murray team up for an evening of diverse comedy. Allin, an actor, pays tribute to the Charlie Chaplin in a multi-media show, while Murray, a comedian, gives her take on what it’s like for a perpetually single, two-time “valley girl” transplanted to a city.

Performances unfold various days and times at two venues, the Georgian Theatre and Mady Centre for the Performing Arts.

Subscription packages for three or more shows save 15% off regular ticket price. There is also a group rate, 10% off for 10 or  more. Single tickets are also available -call 705-739-4228 or 705-792-1949.

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