North Kipling Comedy Cubs “Stand Up Comedy Showcase”

The Run Throughs
A few days before the final Showcase we held two run throughs at lunchtime. This ended up being a critical part of the success of the Showcase as we could give feedback to each act. We also had to ask certain groups to reconsider their performances because they were too close to the line (or well over it) of being tasteful and appropriate. One of the guidelines was “If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see this, don’t put it in the act.” Some racially and politically-based humour continued to be a point of discussion.



The Day of The Showcase
Showcase2The morning of the Showcase brought out the best in most of the comedians. A few got cold feet and withdrew when they saw the videographer from CBC TV. Kudos to those who found the courage and went for it in spite of their nerves. —Naba; Noor; Cory and Rohan; Adedayo; Sehan, Jaiquon, Kiran, Jonathan and Aingaran (The Melon Show), Karanjah and Chesney; Tashifa, Sabhat and Nain (The Power Puff Girls); Emily and Baarath;, Niveithan and Palram; Randy; and Alim.

The program and content the kids chose dealt with types of parents, out of control shopping experiences, social media, and experiments gone wrong — just to name a few. Thanks to all the courageous grade seven students who took a risk and tried something new with this project whether it was in their classroom performances or in this Stand Up Comedy Showcase. Each one is different — and we should celebrate those differences!

Showcase1To laugh at comedy on TV or in the movies is one thing, but to write and perform comedy in front of others is a totally unique experience. It takes special skills to perform in front of others and hope you make them laugh. These comedic skills will be useful throughout their lives in many ways at work, with friends and at home. We all need to lighten up and laugh more. No one student won the Showcase as students agreed that they were all winners for performing in front of an audience.

CBC covers The Showcase on Our Toronto. WOWEE!
CBC Debbie Lightle Quan picked up the story from the TDSB website and spent so much time with the kids filming their stories after the Showcase. Here is the lead-in to the TV segment:

A Lesson in Laughter: Here’s a unique way for kids to not only learn, but to laugh. A class where stand up comedy has students sitting up and taking note on how to treat each other. Debbie Lightle-Quan has that story and a little blooper of her own.
Would you like to watch the CBC coverage here? Be prepared to laugh!
CBC coverage on YouTube

Shout Outs Go To…
We need to send a shout out to Melbourne (Australia) International Class Clowns Festival for students 14-18 years older. We watched many of their students performing for ideas and inspiration. I included their program, developed by Ian McFayden and Karin Ferrell, as a resource in my book Kidding Around: connecting kids to happiness, laughter and humour. We hope to collaborate with them in the future.

Huge shout outs also go to the teachers (Doug Cornell, Marilyn Orszulik, Alessandro Lammana, Ellen Walton and Ian Robertson), the principal Alex Tracey for supporting the program, the comedian-coaches Tyler Morrison and Marc Trinidad, expert photographer Patti Henderson — and above all to the KIDS themselves! We videotaped the entire program and will share an edited version of all the footage in a future blog.

Patti Henderson said in her blog Laughter is the Sound of the Soul Dancing, “This was one of the most insightful, entertaining and worthwhile education projects of my 20 year career in this field… involving an energetic and irrepressibly optimistic and funny group of Grade 7 students. I must say that as I was editing and posting these photos to the gallery, I could not stop smiling! Nothing cleanses the soul as much as the sight of kids laughing. Laughter really is the best medicine! This is especially true in this corner of Toronto where students and teachers often face challenges to joy and laughter.Patti’s Blog Post

Students and teachers hope this pilot project becomes an annual event at North Kipling
JMS. They also hope that by spreading the word, it can be scaled up to share with students at other schools in TDSB. As one of the teachers Doug Cornell said, “We’re on to something new and good here!”

I encourage you to learn from our experience and try this in your own classrooms or schools or living rooms. You could start small and just get your feet wet or you could jump in the deep end and ride the waves of comedy. Let’s share the results and network about this more.