Norm Hiscock knows what’s funny. The Montréal native is a writer and consulting producer on NBC’s hit comedy, Parks & Recreation. He’s also chalked up impressive credits performing and penning witty scripts for shows such as King of the Hill, Corner Gas and The Kids in the Hall. So just for a laugh, he shares his top picks for the funniest places in Canada.
Just For Laughs Festival, Montréal
“You don’t need a reason to go to Montréal,” says Hiscock, “but if you’re going to pick just one, this is a pretty good reason. If you’re a fan of different kinds of comedy, this festival has it all.” This annual crowd-pleaser celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, from July 12 to 29.
The Rivoli, Toronto
“This is where The Kids in the Hall built a following and fleshed out their material before they hit TV. I saw a lot of great comedy there,” he explains. “Performers like Al & George, Brent Butt, Vacant Lot… The Queen West landmark has served as a gathering place for comedy acts that want to try out their material, then perhaps linger, have a beer and shoot a round of pool.”
“Well, I included it for obvious reasons, but Newfoundland is a great Canadian comedy place as well. CODCO, was and still is, one of my favorite sketch shows.” Hiscock’s travel tip for Canada’s easternmost province: “On your way to Dildo, make sure you explore all of Newfoundland.”
Loose Moose Theatre Company, Calgary
“That’s where I got my first taste of performing. Mark McKinney (of The Kids in the Hall fame) and I had a two-man improv group called ‘Steel Belted Refugees’ that eventually grew into another group, ‘The Audience.’” Today, would-be comedians can sign up for improv school at Loose Moose and hone their craft. And audience members can catch shows featuring up-and-coming comics. “Many talented improv performers, actors and writers have evolved out of that community,” Hiscock adds.
“This is where the series SCTV was shot. It’s another favorite sketch show of mine. We’d watch it while writing and improvising shows at Loose Moose in Calgary, wishing we were those actors. I was also going to pick Second City in Toronto. Great comic actors/actresses came out of there, like Catherine O’Hara, John Candy and so many others.” Fans of SCTV today may recognize filming locations all across Edmonton, including the Stanley A. Milner Public Library and the Victoria Park Golf Course. The studio where much of SCTV was shot is now used by Global TV.
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