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Durham Comedy Month Festival bringing the laughs

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The month of October may end up on a spooky note but there will be plenty of laughs before that.

The Durham Comedy Month Festival is returning for its third year.

Organizer John Leonard started the festival with two goals in mind: give comedy lovers in the region some quality shows, and give more Canadian comedians a chance to show off their skills.

“I believe in having a home-grown festival. It’s hard to be a comedian in Canada. The problem is they don’t have a lot of options festival wise,” he says.

Leonard says when he looks at events such as Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, it frustrates him that the majority of performers are not Canadian.

“It has a bunch of international comedians,” he says.

Leonard says those who perform in the Durham festival aren’t amateurs, but well-seasoned veterans of the industry.

“Everyone who is in my festival, they are very good,” he says.

Pointing to George Burgess, one of the performers, Leonard calls him “hilarious.”

“He’s a genius,” he adds.

All of the comedians performing in the festival keep their “comedy clean,” Leonard says, which is important for him as an organizer and a fan of comedy.

“People are getting into more cerebral comedy,” he says. “Good comedy is when it causes you to laugh and forget your problems, whether it’s relationships, school, family or politics.”

The festival kicks off on Sept. 29 at Sabina’s in Pickering, then moves to Melanie Pringles Pub in Whitby on Oct. 6.

The third show comes from the Brooklin Pub in Brooklin on Oct. 13, and the festival wraps up on Oct. 20 at Oshawa’s Regent Theatre, a venue Leonard is a huge fan of.

“People in Durham, even in Oshawa, don’t know how nice the Regent Theatre is,” he says. “The pitch, the ambiance, the atmosphere, it’s amazing.”

The Oshawa show will feature Patrick Haye, Tyler Morrison, Pat MacDonald, Judy, and Simon B. Cotter.

The show begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20.

This year’s festival will feature 20 comedians in all, which is up from 15 last year and five during the first event.

Leonard says the festival is slowly but surely gaining exposure and reputation.

“It takes time to build something unless you have somebody who has everybody’s ear,” he says.

He says he would eventually like to see as many as 35 comedians performing, and increase the number of shows to six.

The full-line up for the festival can be found at