Comedy revue highlights professional and emerging talent, playing monthly in Toronto
This month’s showcase featured Franco Nguyen, Carolina DG, Anto Chan, and Jennifer Hsiung, with Cassie Cao as the headliner. Leonard Chan came on for a few moments to re-record the last joke of his album (the original recording of which was interrupted by technical errors during last month’s show), which was a comedic process in and of itself. The pre-show and intermission featured live music by Danny Lwin.
I had lots of fun at this show. I don’t share an ethnic background with the comedians of the evening, so some of the culturally-specific jokes were not intended for me. On the other hand, I’m certainly of Asian descent (South Asian/Pakistani, to be exact), so this evening still felt very welcoming and relatable for me.
Between Nguyen’s deadpan delivery, Hsiung’s hilarious throwaways, and Cao’s combination of dark humour (delivered with a beaming smile), there was something to love about every performer. I felt really impressed by the diversity of performance styles and found Vong Show to be a grounding presence between each act.
RICE’s format is a little different compared to other revues I’ve seen, providing an opportunity for both breadth and depth. The first half of the show features short sets from the opening acts, including one from next month’s headliner (in this case, Jennifer Hsiung). The second half features a 40-minute headliner set.
Additionally, after RICE was yet another revue called Fresh RICE, which featured up-and-coming comedians mentored by Vong Show and Anto Chan. I couldn’t stay for this portion, but the whole structure of the evening signals to me that Show is doing what he can to not only carve out a space for Asian comics in Toronto, but to foster the next generation of them.
RICE is another great comedy revue in Toronto (along with Comedy Bar’s P R I D E series, SHADE, Super Gay Comedy, and others) emphasizing voices that aren’t typically amplified in mainstream comedy. Asian or not, it is well worth adding to your list of date nights and things to see in the city.
- RICE occurs monthly at Rivoli Pool Hall (334 Queen St. West), the next revue is on December 1st, and a special edition will be taped at CBC Studios Glenn Gould Studio (250 Front St. West) for Chinese New Year on January 24th.
- Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm. Arrive early to guarantee seating. Limited standing room at the back of the venue.
- Tickets are $20 online and at the door
Photo of Cassie Cao, Leonard Chan, and Vong Show by David Arnold