Comedians from across the country will arrive in Winnipeg for the 20th anniversary of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, taking place from Oct. 5 to 10.
A lineup filled with talent and charisma is set to charm audiences after the uncertainty of whether a celebration would be possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. Artistic director Dean Jenkinson is glad the show will go on and is excited for what this year has to offer.
“We are in our 20th year, and it is fair to say that we are one of the three big comedy festivals in Canada ... We pride ourselves (on) bringing the best comedians in the country to our festival and giving a voice to underrepresented communities,” Jenkinson says.
Among the attractions that will happen over the course of a week, more than 30 comedians will step on stage and participate in five themed galas taped for CBC.
“Our first gala is ‘You Do You,’ which is about being who you are and getting comfortable in your own skin. It’s hosted by Priyanka, winner of Canada’s Drag Race Season 1, so she is going to be joined by six comedians (from) across the country, and they will tell us what makes them unique,” he says.
Priyanka is pumped to participate in the festival on Oct. 7 and showcase a different side of her personality that will make crowds laugh and appreciate their inner worth.
“The event is so hilarious, and I am glad that I will be able to do something like this, because being a drag queen in comedy is one thing that makes the audience feel included and happy. You can definitely expect me to wear an amazing look and see a whole other side of me,” Priyanka says.
She also made sure to emphasize that even though the gala’s theme is acceptance, this concept shouldn’t last for one night only.
“Even if it weren’t the theme of this event, everyone should live authentically ... It’s good to have a single night dedicated to it, but individuality should be embraced every single day,” she says.
Joining Priyanka on stage for ‘You Do You’ are comedians Mikey Dubs, Nour Hadidi, Chris Locke, Marito Lopez, Joze Piranian and Steph Tolev.
The other galas that will take place on the following nights are “Love Languages” (hosted by Aurora Browne and Kris Siddiqi), “Truth to Power” (hosted by Michael Greyeyes), “Home Moaners” (hosted by Aba Amuquandoh) and “Creature Comforts” (hosted by Ryan Belleville).
In addition, the CBC Radio One hit show The Debaters will be included in the festival at the Gas Station Arts Centre. The segment will invite local comedians for a faceoff.
“The other part of the festival that we are really proud of is our local standup scene. We have a lot of the best comedians in the country right here in Winnipeg, and you will get to see them as part of The Debaters,” Jenkinson says.
For additional information about the performances and how to purchase tickets, visit winnipegcomedyfestival.com.
Published in Volume 76, Number 4 of The Uniter (October 1, 2021)