WHAT IS FRESH: NEW COMEDIANS SHOWCASE?
FRESH is my way of paying it forward to the new generation of comedians. When I first started comedy 15 years ago in Alberta, I was fortunate enough to get loads of mentorship as I was learning the craft of standup comedy. Being a smaller town, I had the opportunity to host headliners who came through and performed at the local clubs, showing them around town and spending time with them at meals. I was able to pick their brains and gain knowledge from their valuable industry experience. (Special shoutout to now-deceased Canadian legend Mike McDonald AKA King of Canadian Comedy who really encouraged me early in my career and inspired me to start this show.)
Since moving to Toronto I’ve found that new comedians aren’t getting the same type of mentorship as the city is just too large and performer schedules too busy for the connections to be made between headliners and newbies. Things I was taught early on aren’t at all common knowledge with new comedians here unfortunately at no fault of their own.
So I started FRESH: New Comedians showcase as a way to give newcomers a chance to meet headliners from Toronto and across North America and have an opportunity to ask them questions about their careers and the industry.
Additionally I wanted to use FRESH to give new comedians a chance to perform at iconic venues for the first time such as Cameron House, Rivoli, and of course the AMAZING CBC Glenn Gould Studio (only best of the best FRESH comedians are selected for the once-a-year Best of Fresh gala show at a theatre). Press coverage for the shows also gave FRESH comedians an opportunity to learn about how to market themselves and conduct interviews with news media in Canada. Past FRESH comedians have been featured on CBC’s The National, NOW Magazine, CBC One Radio, CTV’s The Social, National Post, CBC Comedy and more!
I truly believe that the stronger the pipeline of new talent coming up, the better for everyone in the industry.
FRESH SEASON 5 ANNOUNCEMENT – TAKING PLACE WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 10PM AT RIVOLI!
Toronto’s newest comedians make their big-stage debut, now taking place at the iconic Rivoli for the first time ever! Show takes places on Wednesday, July 27, at 10:00 PM immediately following What Up! What Up! Toronto, which will take place earlier in the night.
FRESH show closes with a professional headliner, who will stay after the show for a Q&A session to answer questions about their experiences as a professional comedian. Prominent producers will also be invited to perform and answer questions during the Q&A about how shows are booked and produced.
Season 5 will be recorded using a 5-camera, 7-microphone setup and will be edited in post-production to look like TV series. Footage of the performances are later released as a web series on YouTube including Watch Parties for all episode premieres! Check out footage from previous seasons below. (Season 1 and 2 only used one camera. Season 3 and 4 also uses 5 cameras and you’ll be able to see what that footage looks like once the webisodes release.)
Stage time is limited to 3-to-4 minute sets. Although this may seem short, trust me I was just in Hollywood and all showcases were 3 minutes. In New York City, showcases are 2 minutes. As a new comedian it’s important to get your best material into a condensed period of time that’s as cohesive and sharp as possible before expanding to longer sets.
BEST OF FRESH
At the end of each year, the best of the best performers from FRESH: New Comedians Showcase will be invited for a special gala performance and recording at a proper theatre venue! See footage below of the Fresh Rice special gala performance recorded live at CBC Glenn Gould Studio!
This season’s featured guest headliner Casey Corbin! He’s actually one of my original comedy mentors from when I first started standup comedy and he’s one of the inspirations for starting the FRESH program in the first place!
Your featured guest producer Steven Mann, owner of Mann Casting, one of the biggest casting agencies in Toronto. Definitely someone whose brain you can pick about the television and film industry and who has a wealth of knowledge to share.
Per the submission guidelines below please look them up on their official websites and social media channels and let me know what questions you’d like them to answer during the Q&A as part of your submission. You can also choose to direct your questions about the comedy industry to me.
The quality of the questions will be taken into account when selecting comedians for the show, as we want to help comedians who are thirsting for knowledge about the industry! Questions should be specific to the guest professional comedians as we don’t want to waste their time with generic questions that anyone could answer. Please pay attention to this section of the submission as the Q&A questions are heavily weighted when considering who will make it on to the show.
CASEY CORBIN LINKS
MARKETING AND SHOW INVITATIONS
FRESH is NOT a bringer show and there are no minimum tickets sold required. When I moved to Toronto for comedy I had no friends or family here so I would never add bringers as a requirement to get on this show. All I ask is that you try your best to get as many people to come support you as possible.
That said, for a new comedians show realistically the only people who are going to come to see you are your friends and family. For sure I can sell out a show with professional comedians but a general audience is just not going to purchase tickets to see unproven comedians. Additionally, I do not make any profit from this show, as all proceeds go to toward the video production of the multi-camera production (both live event capture and post-production). Generally we need to sell about 80 tickets to break even on the production as most of the equipment is my own and the video crew are volunteers and I understand I will take a loss if we don’t meet this sales target but am willing to invest in the future of comedy.
All FRESH comedians are required to volunteer at the professional show taking place at Rivoli at 745PM prior to the FRESH showcase. In this month’s case, the professional show is What Up! What Up! Toronto, which is an urban comedy showcase.
The volunteering is meant to be a learning opportunity to understand what goes into the production of a professional show and should also serve as an aspirational showcase of where you should aim to go with your careers in the future. If you do not see the value in this portion of the mentorship then please do not submit. Believe me I can easily find volunteers for my shows given the ticket price there’s enough volunteers just from the pool of people who wanna come to the show at no cost by volunteering.
So the volunteering itself really is a critical component of the learning process of how to become a professional comedian. During FRESH you will transition from volunteer to performers and there will be a new set of volunteers who will come in to take care of your show. Having volunteered earlier in the night will also allow you to understand what roles the new volunteers play in the overall production.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING FRESH COMEDIANS
Multiple criteria are taken into account when deciding who makes it on to the FRESH stage. In rough order of priority here are some of the criteria I’m using to finalize the lineup. Hopefully this will guide you as through the submission process to understand what to focus on.
- Volunteering for Previous Vong Show Production (highest priority for inclusion in this show)
- Quality of the Q&A Question Submitted (very important criteria, specificity of question is important)
- Previously Submitted Unsuccessfully (multiple submissions prioritized over first-time submissions)
- Quality of the Submission (improperly filled out fields or lazily filled out applications de-prioritized)
- Amount of Time Since First Performance (newer comedians are prioritized)