Torontopia: The Next Wave of Sketch Comedy from Canada

Torontopia a digital series that satirizes life in the Canadian city of Toronto has begun releasing its second season on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation comedy website and it streaming service Gem. The show is named after a cultural movement started in the mid-aughts that centered around community music and a healthy dose of pretension. It is these things the series takes to task with sketches that take on the idiosyncratic arbitrary decisions of cool and turn them literal with comedic exaggeration.

In sketches like “celebrity bartender” an ultra-hip bartender breaks down in a sports style documentary the finer details of their lifestyle. “I never sleep until about 4 a.m. at which time I sleep then I wake up at 5 p.m.the next day”

The show is in its second season- the debut sketch of the new arc was entitled Suburban Plaza Car Show. Taking aim at the Canadian suburban phenomenon of parking a moded car in a parking lot, the sketch takes an in depth look at the all-star lineup of “Intergenerational Plaza Dwellers”

Torontopia’s sketches are lean, succinct truthful and live in the place right before satire becomes absurd. The series carries on the beloved tradition of sketch comedy in Toronto while clearly representing. The new path of development for short content sketch.

In 2016 series creator Ryan long became head of video at the satirical punk rock news site The hard times. He grew up working in a music store He spent his twenties being a heartthrob drummer in a ska band. The basis of his comedy career has been to make fun of all of it. This is evident in the early videos at hard times that would eventually become Torontopia sketches like “cheating drummer” and “scene legend : Darryl Johnson” about a man who plays concerts at a music store but never buys anything.

It was a sketch entitled “Soundman: the art of grumpy” that garnered 2 million views and caught the attention of Tyrone Warner and Kyle McCutcheon who head up digital comedy development for the CBC.

Long Warner and McCutcheon began to collaborate and put a decidedly Toronto spin on Long’s winning concept. The CBC green-lit three sketches one of which was “Scarborough doctor” that featured Paul Thompson (no relation to Scott) as a doctor from the distinctly vibrant and animated Toronto suburb. When it cracked a million views the CBC quickly ordered 2 more 5 episode runs.

Toronto and its comedians are so often dressed up for the American market. They write on American shows and those shows shoot in Toronto. They are not Americans they just play them on T.V.

Continuing the aforementioned tradition of sketch comedy in Canada while making content with a mass global appeal is no easy task. Toronto is the city of Kids in the Hall and SCTV. CBC was the network that aired the Hart and Lorne terrific hour in the 70s– Lorne Michaels first television program. Schitt’s Creek (the only other Canadian show doing these kinds of numbers albeit on cable) relies on fans of Levy and O’Hara– stalwart players from sketches golden era in Toronto.

Torontopia navigates this heavy lineage while involving new performers.Torontopia does all this without so much as a single kid from the hall. Although it features a core cast of which Long is central to, it did not evolve out of a sketch comedy group. This allows the series to avoid the almost unavoidable monotony sets in with a troupe of the same cast of characters playing everyone to various degrees of effect. Torontopia casts stand-up comics capable of strong character work and showcases their talent in a new light.

Dan Guiry, Garrett Jameson, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll and Amish Patel all give breakout performances in the show’s first season.

The show is familiar and at the same time very fresh; all these character’s are from Toronto but you don’t need to be from Toronto to laugh at them. The show has all the making of a viral sensation. It will be worth watching what the CBC does to develop its viral hit further, but for now the new Torontopia sketches will be released every other week until June 26th.

If Drake’s music is a love song to Toronto Then Torontopia is a high energy pop punk anthem that would go, “This is Toronto we are laughing in the six I think you should come visit Torontopia.”

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