“Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.”
Steve Martin said that. I hated most of his movies, but he definitely hit the nail on the head with this one.
What’s up folks? Hope you’re all enjoying the summer vibes so far. Out here in Toronto, the summers get busier and busier, but sometimes you just need to bite the bullet, swim with the crowds, and see what’s going on in the hubbub of it all (yep, hubbub is a word).
Toronto summers really push the envelope for creative events each year as the city’s continued growth in the arts and culture sector create a fertile environment for grassroots initiatives and quality talent to come together.
Recently we had the chance to pop in to “Coconuts, Cedar Trees, and Maple Leaves”, an evening stand-up special comedy show in the city’s East End as a part of this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival running from July 4 to the 15th. The show is held in the cozy private backroom of Sarah’s Cafe & Bar, just steps from Greenwood station at 1426 Danforth Avenue.
Fringe Toronto aims to “create a platform for everyone to access, discover, and experiment with the arts”, and comics Habib Siam and Jean Paul take advantage of this goal, by kicking the doors down with a thoughtful and absolutely hilarious show. Veterans in their own lanes, the two neighbourhood laugh dealers bring a myriad of experiences to this cohesive, organic, and thoughtful evening experience.
Hailing from Lebanon first, and few spins of the globe later, Habib Siam brings a portfolio of personal stories, witty punchlines proven to spark roars of laughter from Montreal to Toronto, a Ph.d in Education, and the meanest sneakers in the game; all to poke large holes in the ridiculous cultural assumptions we make on the daily.
With a fashion sense that a Trinity-Bellwoods casanova could only wish for, Trinidadian-born Jean Paul has as many jokes as he does eclectic outfits, that I am sure he will cringe about how much I am emphasizing. Seriously though, the man’s resume is quite legendary with his voice (and his pen) being heard on stages around the world and even perhaps on your television in some classic Canadian shows.
Habib and Jean ingeniously guide their audience through an off-road safari ride of memories as immigrants, spraying verbal graffiti over walls of separation existing today in terms of race, culture, and the politics of that zesty “I” word – Identity.
The end result is a great show that not only gets you to let go of the stress of the day and laugh out loud, but it also gets you thinking about just how similar we all are.
By detailing hilarious, embarrassing, cringe-worthy, and insightful narratives of figuring out their own cultural identities and navigating through the western world; the comics create a space where you can drop the self-conscious veil over your lips and let out a few chuckles at their presentation of inconvenient and uncomfortable, but very real truths.
And that’s really what made us appreciate this show.
By celebrating difference, acknowledging awkwardness, and positioning themselves less than twelve feet from a really well-stocked bar, Habib and Jean’s “Coconuts, Cedar Trees, and Maple Leaves”allows people of all walks of life to laugh and look at each other in an honest but light-hearted and inclusive manner that makes for a great step into the world of Fringe, and also just maybe, the world of basic social awareness.
The show is still gwanning until the end of this week, and it makes for a great date night, after-work chill, or get-together with the homies. Get tickets early, ’cause we were almost left out of luck when we went as the show sold-out early!
Supporting community and grassroots initiatives to push local forms of art is gonna be really important to preserving organic creativity, originality, and integrity of our city’s authentic identity as Toronto continues to explode. Fringe reminds us that the city is more than dad-hats, taper fades, and 6ixbuzz.Tv, and perhaps your summer can benefit from something fresh, different, and a little bit outside of the box.
We know ours did.