Alt comedy booming in Toronto clubs
It wasn’t that long ago that standup comedians of all styles and skill levels — pro, amateur, clean, raunchy — were galvanized by their contempt for the newest addition to their art form.
Indeed, veteran Toronto political standup and writer Lou Eisen posted some 15 years ago that “alternative comedy” — a style that breaks the conventions of traditional set-up/punch-line standup — should be called an alternative to comedy.
But alternative comedy has carved out its niche in the standup landscape, with its own stars like Patton Oswalt, Janeane Garofalo and Zach Galifianakis. Locally, alt comedy has fuelled a quasi-comedy boom, spawning a number of new venues in Toronto that cater mostly, but not exclusively, to these comedians and their audiences.
“Used to be where you could get onstage maybe two or three times a week,” says Morgan Flood, producer of the ALTdot Comedy Lounge at the Rivoli, which is widely regarded as Toronto’s first space for alt comedians. “Now you can probably get up three or four times a night.”