Review: Cream of Comedy (The Second City/The Tim Sims Encouragement Fund)

Stand up stand-up at The Second City’s Cream of Comedy emerging talent competition

What I love most about comedy is its basic belief in the potential for humour in everything. But comedy is a funny thing (pun intended!). While I wholeheartedly agree that everything can be laughed with/at, I think humour is a gator-harboring swamp that needs a skillful airboatswain to guide the rest of us through it. There’s a lot we just don’t know how to laugh at without being shown.

This is the role of the writer, the jester, the improviser, and at Second City’s Cream of Comedy, the comic. This event is a training ground for our new guides. These relatively young comics see the gators, they’re piloting the airboat, and they’re trying to point out all there is to see while keeping everyone from drowning in the muck.

It’s a job we don’t give enough credit to when we think about ideas of performance, but damn, there is a lot of muck I’m sure we’d all love to avoid drowning in. We need more guides, all the time!

That’s why events like Cream of Comedy are so great. It’s an annual competition that promotes promising comedic performers in the early stages of their careers (less than two years) by giving them a chance not only to expose their wit but also to win a prestigious prize, the $5000 Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award.

Perhaps like me you feel a little hesitant about trusting your funny bone in unskilled hands. To beat my metaphor to death, humour’s a swamp, and a poor guide just isn’t going to steer us comfortably through it.

But Cream of Comedy proved to be a very comfortable time. All the comics made fun of themselves and various other parts of life in delightful ways, any awkward moments were strategic, and laughter was loud.

While I found all of the night’s acts to be free of muck, one stood out to me as particularly muck-less – and, she ended up winning. Christi Olson is very funny, one of those comics who seems to have some special insight on the ways in which the world actually works, and is able to make hilarity of it.

The host, Kristeen Von Hagen, is also certainly worth mentioning, and I think she did a great job of stealing the show without taking anything away from the purpose of us all being there. Not a surprise, considering she’s the recent recipient of the 2012 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Female comic.

Make sure to keep an eye out for anything these ladies are involved in (if you like laughing…if not, I’m surprised you’ve read this far) and check out next year’s Cream of Comedy if you’d like to continue to support the development of our new humour guides.


The Cream of Comedy played at Second City (51 Mercer St) on Oct 30th, 2012. Be sure to check it out next year.