Category Archives: Influencers

MY SUNDAY “IN THE ROOM” WITH CANADA’S LEADING TV STARS

I recently met Rafael Kalamat and Jason Barbeck, founders of Reel Deal Guys Entertainment Inc. (RDG) (pictured below, L-R) who have created an original TV series, IN THE ROOM, featuring Canadian actors from all ages and stages of career success in a round-table discussion setting.

photo 1 (5)This past Sunday, I attended a taping – their second “Hollywood North” themed episode – at the Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto, where they welcomed some of our country’s finest and most award-winning stars, pictured below: Tantoo Cardinal (Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall), Kris Holden-Ried (Lost Girl, The Listener, The Tudors), Shawn Doyle (Endgame, Covert Affairs, Reign), Zoe deGrand’Maison (Orphan Black, Rookie Blue, Bad Hair Day), Philip Moran (Total Recall) and the multi-talented actor, director and mainstay of 80s and 90s TV and film Art Hindle (Black Christmas, FaceOff, Murder She Wrote, ENG).

TantooKHR2Shawn DoyleNicolePhilipArt HWith Rafael and Jason co-hosting, the stars took the stage during the closed-taping, and shared stories from the acting trenches. Supported by a highly proficient crew, Rafael and Jason captured intimate moments with each actor as they shared stories of screen triumphs, emotional impact of past roles, on-set camaraderie & rivalries, and many hilarious tales from behind as well as in front of the cameras.   So why is this new show not on TV now? Canada, and Toronto in particular, has a huge TV viewing audience many of whom, it appears, love reality and chat shows so how come all we have to watch are the chaotic morning shows with predominantly weather and traffic news, tired homemaker magazine shows, dry-as-a-bone political argument panels, plus a couple of celebrity gossip shows targeting the hipster 20/30-something crowd? We need our own “Tonight Show” or a Graham Norton-style outrageous celebrity couch programme (if you have BBC Canada you’ll know exactly what I mean). In The Room could easily fill that void AND please advertisers – let’s face it, networks don’t really give a rat’s ass about content, it’s all about the potential for billions of advertising dollars!

Based on the amount of traffic my Tweets and Facebook posts garnered during the shoot yesterday, I know we have an audience for shows like In The Room so consider this blog editorial as me throwing down the gauntlet – let’s get In The Room on air. So anyone out there know a hungry distributor or network buyer?  http://reeldealguys.com/

logoHere are some behind the scenes photos, courtesy of my wonderful Samsung Galaxy 3!

(below) make-up room shenanigans with Shawn, Kris, Tantoo and Zoe….

20150308_111355 20150308_111405 20150308_112356Setting up the stage….then bringing in the actors!

20150308_101419 20150308_120446 20150308_120514 20150308_125750Time for a break….with the best craft services in town!

20150308_101524 20150308_103717(above LtoR) Crew members Lana & Dwayne joined Jason and actor Brian Kaulback (Murdoch Mysteries) during break time.  Then back to work…roll cameras!

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20150308_141002I spent some time with the lovely ladies in make-up, Carlene & Stephanie (below), whom I challenged to a face/off – make me pretty in 10 minutes – but they just laughed…I wonder why?

20150308_135059 20150308_135135 20150308_135118Once In The Room finished taping, the actors and hosts gathered for a “class photo”….

20150308_140111 20150308_135944….then it was time for some candid shots on stage…..

20150308_135642 20150308_135720 20150308_131202 20150308_140332 20150308_135800 20150308_135812…then the good-byes, with the actors signing posters backstage. This is where Assoc. Producer Janine grabbed some quick pics with the stars. She especially enjoyed taking one with her fave TV actor, Kris Holden-Ried (pic#4) who I still say looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay (here they look much cuter than Chris and Gwyneth, don’t ya think?)

20150308_140916 20150308_130833 20150308_141129 20150308_141210 20150308_141641 20150308_141559 20150308_141305I grabbed a wacky selfie with my all-time Canadian idol, Art Hindle. What a nice man…and so damned talented.

20150308_114021Congratulations to RDG for producing such a great show which, once it gets on air, will have a large and appreciative audience. For details of IN THE ROOM and other RDG projects, visit:  http://reeldealguys.com/

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THE LITTLE TORONTO NEWS SITE THAT COULD – MEET PUBLISHER KJ MULLINS OF NEWZ4U.NET

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to one of Toronto’s unsung heroes, a woman who launched a news site that champions the underdog stories and gives a voice to those causes and issues that don’t get much exposure in mainstream media due to their lack of media “sexiness” or mass appeal. These are the stories that confront day-to-day life and issues in the naked city.  KJ Mullins is passionate about Toronto and her neighbours, and publishes her daily NEWZ4U.NET e-newspaper with the help of talented reporters and photographers dedicated to bringing the real news to you without corporate or advertiser “filters” and without fluff or filler content.

I recently sat down with KJ and asked her to tell us all about NEWZ4U.net and what prompted her to create the site.

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Tell us a little about KJ Mullins – what is your personal journalism/business background?
KJ: I started out in college on the journalism track but went to drama/psy instead. Ten years ago after other jobs and being a stay at home mom, I got the writing bug again and this time went full steam.  One of the first articles I wrote back in college helped to bring forth positive changes for disabled students rather quickly, and seeing that I could make a difference was really powerful.

KJ MullinsWhen was your website first launched?
KJ: I launched NEWZ4U.NET on May 12, 2010.

What first inspired you to create Newz4U & what news niche wasn’t being fulfilled by the national newspapers?
KJ: I wanted to get my voice out there and the voices of others who may not fit into the mainstream model. Social issues like homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues and the arts are often overlooked in the mainstream because if it’s not a ‘front and centre’ story it isn’t sexy. The same is true with stories on the city’s front line responders – in mainstream media the motto of if it bleeds it leads also means that stories about good works aren’t covered. It’s rare to find articles about the various Kops and Kids programs that do curb youth violence.

homeless porter_002 DSCF8097How did you source your first news items?
KJ: We have always sourced our news items in the same way; with on the scene and through interviewing with fact checking. We also use reliable newswires for additional coverage. 

What sort of feedback did you receive from readers once the first few editions were e-published?
KJ: Knock on wood, from the beginning we’ve had positive feedback. For the readers who had personal issues in the city like a pot hole appearing and reappearing at their Toronto Community Housing building which we helped to bring positive results, the feedback was extremely positive.

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DSCF0879Who are your readers and how do you reach them?
KJ: Our readers are mostly from Toronto and are generally 25+, evenly mixed between genders. Most have university educations and many are movers and shakers. They are interested in social change and the arts.

DSCF3761As a web-based news source, what sort of reach does Newz4U enjoy?
KJ: In 2014 we had over 449K readers who read over 2.4 million articles. We average 31K monthly readers going through 146K articles.

What stories do you look for?
KJ: We are always looking for new stories about social issues. Fresh produce in the city, and childhood hunger is a current issue we are tackling hard. In Canada’s largest business city it is mind-blowing how many go to bed hungry every night or haven’t got a bed to sleep in. We’ve covered Pride and the Caribbean Festival for several years, looking into the areas that aren’t touched by mainstream.

DSCF2517The arts are also a strong interest for us. We cover as many events, big and small, as possible. Right now we are working on the RBC Taylor Prize and the Lionel Gelber Prize, both covering Canadian non-fiction literature. Each shortlisted book is read and reviewed prior to the prize announcements. It’s a lot of work but promoting our Canadian authors is very important. These men and women are putting forth some amazing work. Photography, fine arts and music are also a prime focus. We hope to be at the Junos this year with one of our newest writers whose focus is music.

DSCF8833 DSCF6408We will also be covering sports at the Pan Am Games. Our sports photographer, Hugh McClean, has been covering soccer and rugby in the past year, two sports that get very little coverage in the city.

?????????????????????Do you offer sponsored pages or ad space and if so, what is the range of $s?
KJ: This is a hard one for us but yes we do have ad space. Ads run from $25 to $150 a month depending on placement. We have plans to change up our layout in mid-March/early-April that will allow for pages to be sponsored as well. Prices for this are still in the works.

We also have a sponsorship program which gives ‘free’ ad space for Toronto small businesses. Our Angel sponsors keep us going and growing.

NEWZ4U.NET gives back to the community by offering local grassroots and small charities space for promoting themselves and their events for FREE.

How do people reach you for editorial coverage and/or advertising?
KJ: We are always available via email at editor@newz4u.net. We respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday. You can always get in touch with me personally on Twitter @kjjournalist.

20141018_143931Above photo: G.J. Fordham

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Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto announces top films of 2014

James McNally, Founder of the Cinema Appreciation Soc. of Toronto, has released the list of the group’s top films for this past year and it is my honour to publish his media advisory and list of films here. James is a true cinephile and his passion for the moving image is reflected in his frequent online editorial contributions.

Please join me in congratulating the CAST 2014 award-winning films announced today:

boyhood_600Mon. January 5th, 2015 – Toronto: Living in a city that hosts more than a film festival per week throughout the calendar year, a “critical mass” of well respected and intelligent writers and contributors has developed who might not necessarily get the same level of exposure as some who write for the major and national outlets.  As Toronto continues to grow as a global hub for news and reviews in the world of cinema, it is becoming clearer by the day that when Torontonians go to the movies, the world is listening to their opinions.

Established in 2010, the Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto (CAST) has been described as a ragtag group of semi-professional film bloggers, podcasters, tweeters and Lightbox lobby loiterers. What unites us all is a love for cinema and for the cinema culture in our city. Drawing from the massive pool of more than 500 theatrically released films, along with festival screenings, CAST members come together to name the best of the best of what was projected onto Toronto screens during any given calendar year.

grand_budapest_hotel_300 birdman_200 gone_girl_150After weeks of spreadsheet wrangling and at least 24 hours of counting out loud and on our fingers, we are pleased to announce the results of the 5th annual CAST Awards. This year’s Awards encompassed 142 different films as chosen by 38 voters. Here are the Top 10:

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Whiplash
  4. Nightcrawler
  5. Under the Skin
  6. Birdman
  7. Gone Girl
  8. Mommy
  9. Inherent Vice
  10. Force Majeure

We’d like to thank each of the 38 voters who contributed to this year’s results, and also to all the filmmakers who bring us their work each year. We look forward to another great year of cinema ahead, and can assure you that we have bigger plans in the works for CAST this year (including a web site which will soon reside at the URL included below). We hope you’ll come along for the ride.

James McNally
Founder, CAST
www.cas-toronto.com
Twitter: @CAST_TOR

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Local pop-up Christmas market features Toronto artisans

Dan Gordon from Whisky and Spicehttp://www.whiskyandspice.ca ) set up camp this weekend at the exciting pop-up local artisans market located at Yonge & Gould streets (just 1blk north of Dundas Square) so I dropped in to say hi and see how Christmas sales were going. If you’re still looking for unique and delicious gifts, I suggest visiting Dan tomorrow (Sunday) to say hello and taste the wicked condiments – W&S will be back at the market next week, too.

20141206_132629 20141206_132638 20141206_133715 20141206_133730The big heated tent was bustling with shoppers and I watched as several customers tasted the flavoured mustard samples. Several jars disappeared in front of my eyes…bravo, Dan. People love the Whisky/honey, Porter beer and Riesling/apple infused handcrafted premium mustards.

I wandered around the tent, visiting other vendors and found an old friend, jewellery designer Stephanie MacKay (http://www.mform.weebly.com ). I’m lucky to have one of her stunning druzy rings (see below) and was pleased to see others admiring her gorgeous designs….

20141206_134149 20141206_134241 20141206_134155As I made my way around the tent, here are some other wonderful vendors offering unique gifts that I’m sure you’ll love…starting with Rose and Iris Designs (below)…unfortunately their Fcbk page isn’t working as I write (am sure it’s just a temporary glitch) but their home accessories & wearable designs are terrific so do connect with them, if you can. http://www.Facebook.com/roseandirisdesign

20141206_134014Then I met the Just Feelings people (http://www.justfeelings.ca ) who create/customize the most adorable wacky pens for the littlest people on your gift shopping list. No two are the same…just like the kids who love them.

20141206_134312 20141206_134322One of my favourite displays was the HYM purses, totes and clutches, designed by the lovely and charming Christina Di Pede (http://www.hymonline.com ). She designs the bags using supple Italian leathers (feels like buttah!) and velvety soft calf hair. The oversized clutches are perfect for your iPad or Note – my favourite is the turquoise coloured one Christina’s holding below. Dear Santa, I’ve been a good girl and I wanna a HYM purse.

20141206_134546 20141206_134559 20141206_134549 20141206_134604Next to Christina was Toronto City Key, a “keys to the city” company that offers all sorts of discounts & perks – you show your “key” that has a special promo code imprinted on it to receive spa, restaurant, entertainment  perks. Better than those darn discount coupon books and …I like this…it’s multiple use at each participating venue, not a one-time-only use. Check them out here: http://www.torontocitykey.com 

20141206_134750 20141206_134809 20141206_134812Sex on a Stitch anyone? LOL Every girl should have a pair of pasties in her lingerie draw, even for her own entertainment. I happen to know several of the top burlesque performers in Toronto and I know they wear these sparkly crocheted tassels and twirly things. So if you’ve been naughty or nice, visit them here at the TO Local Market or at http://www.sexonastitch.etsy.com 

20141206_134443 20141206_134451Clothing and accessories designer Sarah Cresswell of Sci Feye Candy (below) http://www.SciFeyeCandy.com showed off her saucy lingerie for grown-up girls as well as tweens and teens. Wish I’d had such a selection waaaaay back when I was a little nipper!

20141206_134903 20141206_134906 20141206_134910Sarah was next to her friend, Sonia Kang of Coven jewellery designs which were displayed on cuddly sheepskin throws. Great edgy pieces affordably priced. http://www.covensk.com

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I totally recommend visiting the pop-up artisans’ tent between now and Christmas – your purchase will be a gift to these local artisans who really need our support. Wouldn’t you rather give money to an artist/designer than a big impersonal box store??  I know I would…and did. The artisans change on a weekly basis and many I’ve mentioned here are only there tomorrow (Sunday Dec.7) so visit http://www.adhocpopup.com/holidaymarket/ to see who’s peddling their wares and when.

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“URBAN FOODIE” NIGHT AT URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Presented by the fabulous folks at URBANSOURCE CATERING, Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY hosted a special “Urban Foodie” event last night presenting some of the most delicious delicacies created by their Executive Chef, LYNDON WIEBE.

2 30thAnjniversary2015I arrived a little early so I could sneak a peek in the kitchen where Chef Lyndon and his crew were busy putting the finishing touches to the canapes (below)

20141120_171631 20141120_171713 20141120_171811…then watched as they were laid out for the soon-to-arrive guests (below)

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20141120_172549 20141120_172617 20141120_173000 20141120_172705The always-fabulous gallery goddess Kaspara vamped for cameras as she tweaked and “fluffed” the food!

20141120_172651And then the guests arrived!

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Visiting food blogger, Linda Matarasso (@aStarvingFoodie) below, posted numerous Instagram & Twit pics, enjoying all the scrumptious treats as well as the stunning photographic art of Karen Silver, whose current show ends Nov. 29th

20141120_175132 20141120_180023 20141120_175814and our talented artist Karen Silver dropped in to enjoy the great food and socializing, below left

20141120_184532Artist, poet and performance artist Brenda Clews (below left) dropped by, too. Brenda hosts monthly poetry salons in the gallery and has previously exhibited her colourful, large format paintings at Urban Gallery.

20141120_184906Then Brenda (with gallery curator, Allen Shugar, below) turned the camera on me!

20141120_185005 GlendaBelow, Wayne Abell, our host-with-the-most, enjoyed welcoming the guests….

20141120_173902….and Catering & Events Mgr, Calvin Hambrook (below right) shared a glass of wine and stories with guests

20141120_185739(0)CHEESY BALLS!  Yaaaaay, they’re back…my favourite “cheesy balls” which are actually delicious risotto balls with warm cheese stuffing made a special appearance, just for me – below

20141120_185502…but the spicy shrimps were also pretty awesome. Simple, delicately spiced with lime, these were gobbled up quickly by very happy guests.

20141120_175648My favourite Canadian wines by Pelee Island Winery were served…

20141120_173328 20141120_173345and the food kept coming….even Whisky & Spice booze-infused mustards made an appearance beside the charcouterie platters.

20141120_181657 20141120_182347But my new all-time favourite has to be this special treat Chef Lyndon prepared…maple candied bacon strips. OMG, they were sooooo good and they disappeared sooooo quickly. At least I managed to grab a few!

20141120_173703 20141120_173731Big thank you to everyone who attended, and thank-you to UrbanSource Catering for showcasing such an amazing selection of holiday hors d’oeuvres, canapes and charcouterie platters, all available from their special festive menus. Find these plus holiday cocktail menus online here: http://www.urbancatering.com/

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MEMORIAL CONCERT THIS WEDNESDAY FOR TORONTO INDIE MUSICIAN, POET, ARTIST, MEDIA PERSONALITY – NIK BEAT

Sadly, it was just two months ago that Toronto’s indie arts scene lost one of its biggest long-time supporters when CIUT-FM radio personality, musician, artist and poet NIK BEAT (below) passed suddenly, leaving a huge hole in so many hearts.

100_0643This Wednesday (Nov.19), I’m being joined on stage at 8pm by a dozen of Nik’s friends and colleagues at The Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave (just S. of College) in Kensington Market, Toronto, to celebrate Nik’s life and work in words and music. With a cover charge of just $5 (plus an optional donation of cat food to help support Nik’s best furry friend, Hank), we’re hoping that many of the artists Nik helped over the years with interviews on his “Howl!” radio show (Tuesdays at 10pm live on CIUT-FM) will come out and show their appreciation and respect.

untitledI first met Nik over 25 years ago when I caught one of his “Beatnik Cafe” shows in a tiny little coffee house on Vaughan Ave where he hosted gatherings of poets and the odd acoustic musician. At the time, I had recently walked away from a music agency where I represented several recording/touring artists but had become so disenchanted by the behind-the-scene b.s. that I was looking for another more positive entertainment vehicle.  I had begun hosting live poetry events in various bars and coffee houses around the city including the Rivoli, El Mocambo, Cameron House and Horseshoe Tavern, and as soon as we met, I knew I had to book Nik into some of my more mainstream venues – his talent was unquestionable as was his stage presence – I always had a good eye for new talent!

epepeppepepepDuring the early 90’s, Toronto’s poetry scene  was emerging as valid (although not too profitable) entertainment, driven by the Poetry Sweatshop events founded by John and James Coburn and staged at The Rivoli; Nik’s coffeehouse events and my newly created Scribes & Muses! – an artists’ collective of poets and musicians for whom I was artistic director & show producer – plus a few other popular monthly events hosted by members of The League of Canadian Poets. This all took place long before camera/phones or digital cameras for the masses so there aren’t too many photos of these inspiring and exciting creative nights. But this little family of writers, singers and songwriters was pretty tight and we all enjoyed attending and performing at each others’ soirees.

Nik book launch shotNik became my MC for many of the S&M! nights and he appeared regularly on my Thursday nights at Graffiti’s in Kensington Market, as well as college gigs I booked for the S&M! members via COCA (Cdn. Organization of Campus Activities).  Nik’s profile grew as he played more mainstream venues and the audience’s respect for him as a creative force grew as his music, poems and painting/collage works gained media attention. During the early 2000’s Nik introduced me to The League of Cdn Poets’ National Poetry Month (April) and I not only presented my own live poetry shows across S. Ontario each April, but thanks to Nik’s referral, I became the publicist for the League, promoting the heck out of Nat’l Poetry Month for all the participating poets across the country.

NIk Beat performs his poetry at fundraiser for artists at GalleryOver the past few years, Nik had established himself as a fine contemporary/abstract artist as well as author of a number of poetry volumes for which I was honoured to publicize and promote, presenting meet-n-greets, media interviews, TV and web-based chat show participation – everything I could to support his artistic endeavours.  Nik had a number of art shows at leading Toronto galleries (see below)….

Blonde on Blonde collageHellywood Nik-3 NB-011 Nik 2

20131012_13424220131012_13425720131012_135200and several cool, well attended book launches (below)…

the tyranny of love original book cover Vern & Nik

20140204_193344 20140204_193657 20140204_193702 Nik Beat and bassist Michael Ratt at Free Times

And then on September 18th, I got the news: Nik had died. Suddenly and dramatically. None of us were prepared for such devastating news – I had just returned a couple of days earlier from a 6-day gig in Ottawa and had planned to call Nik on the Wednesday to remind him about the event but I knew he’d remember – so I never bothered. On Thurs. Sept. 18th Nik was due to arrive at Urban Gallery to enjoy a fabulous artist’s reception and lots of free food and wine but he never showed up and this was not like Nik. When he RSVP’d to an event, he was always on time, and knowing how much he enjoyed our mutual support, I knew something was weird but I never expected that I would not see him again. I had called several times that night leaving voicemails like “Okay, where are you…this is the first time you’ve stood me up…you got a hot date instead of me?” I got home around 9:30pm and heard the phone ringing as I turned the key in my front door. Life/work hasn’t been much fun since that moment when a media colleague told me down the phone “Glenda, don’t go on the internet…you need to hear this from a friend, are you sitting down?”

So this Wednesday, Nik’s friends, family and entertainment colleagues will perform in tribute to a man who made our lives fuller, happier, nuttier, funnier, gentler. Please come out, just to say thanks to Nik who gave so much to so many without expecting anything in return.

20140923_141424AND THE BEAT GOES ON…. takes place Wed. Nov. 19th @ 8pm The Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave (just S. of College)  $5 cover – doors open 7:30pm.  Featuring: Laura L’Rock, Michael Marian, Pat Kelly, Michael Ratt, Valentino Assenza, Linda Saslove, Angela Argento, Joani Paige, Michael Oesch, Jennifer Hosein, Brenda Clews and Thomas Fischer.

Here’s Nik at CIUT studio with Joseph Procopio, Canada’s most awarded young filmmaker (below)

with Nik Beat live on Howl!…and interviewing Eliot Hoppe (below left), Canada’s #1 body language expert and deception detector, along with co-host Nancy Bullis.

IMG_0222….and interviewing Ronnie Hawkins and Elvis’ drummer, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, at the Hard Rock Cafe, Toronto

CIMG1872…but here’s how we love to remember Nik…performing solo as well as supporting other artists.

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God speed,  my friend. 

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CANADIAN COMEDY AWARDS – On-stage Acceptance Speeches, Tears and Cheers

My tireless PR colleague, Jennifer, managed to capture some of the on-stage Beaver acceptance speeches with her phone camera while tweeting out all the action on Sunday night. Please excuse the less than perfect picture quality but I’m sure you’ll enjoy reliving that special moment when a nominee becomes a winner!   Host Tom Green strode out to centre stage (below) to start the ball rolling….

2014-09-14 19.33.51-2…then on to the presentations.  Kayla Lorette wins for Best Female Performance in a Web Series, then Ron James accepted this year’s Dave Broadfoot Comedy Genius Award 

2014-09-14 19.58.53 2014-09-14 20.40.20-1An emotional and surprised Garry Rideout Jr. (below) accepts the Roger Abbott Award (shared with Kyra Williams of Yuk Yuk’s)

2014-09-14 20.31.37Then….Adam Cawley was crowned Best Improvisor

IMG_20140914_205819Best Sketch Troupe, Peter ‘n’ Chris (below)

IMG_20140914_210029The Sufferettes took home the Beaver for Best Improv Troupe

IMG_20140914_210436Best Comedic Play was won by Peter n’ Chris Explore Their Bodies

IMG_20140914_210605A happy but tearful Kayla Lorette was a 3-time winner, taking home Best Female Improvisor

IMG_20140914_211329Best Variety Act was Morro and Jasp

IMG_20140914_211832And DeAnne Smith was named Best Female Stand-Up

IMG_20140914_212813Chris Locke was named Best Male Stand-up

IMG_20140914_213233And the wonderfully witty Ken Hall was named Best Breakout Artist, much to the audience’s delight!

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Our sincere apologies for those we missed – the pictures were just too blurred or bright to post. But again, congrats to all the nominees, thanks to all the presenters, our host, the team of volunteers, Tim P. and everyone who helped create this fabulous fun-filled evening celebrating Canadian comedy talent.   http://www.canadiancomedy.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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