Punchline to falling dollar: More gigs for local comedians

Canadian comics finding more doors open in absence of American talent

East York comedian Ian Fergus is getting more opportunities thanks to the falling loonie.
East York comedian Ian Fergus is getting more opportunities thanks to the falling loonie. (Brendan Joel)

With the Canadian dollar sitting at 0.69 USD, American comedians are leaving Canada out of their touring plans, opting to make more money at home.

Jack Carr, professor of Canadian macroeconomics at the University of Toronto, says American comedians are “going to want to be paid in U.S. dollars … and that’s going to increase their price.

Carr attributes the low dollar to falling prices on Canada’s natural resources.

An American regular at Toronto’s Absolute Comedy club, Scott White, says, “l get totally screwed when l exchange my pay…. But it works out with the exchange that I am doing a week for free.”

What keeps White coming back to Canada is Canadians. “The audiences are great and l have made a ton of friends that l like to see and it is just a great time.”

But with the absence of Americans in Canadian comedy, East York comedian Ian Fergus is seeing new doors and new stages open to him.

“Canadian promoters aren’t willing to shell the money for an American headliner to bring his own feature, which allows younger comics such as myself, a great opportunity to work with pros,” Fergus says.

Ryan Maglunob, comedy operations manager at Absolute Comedy, seems unworried by the higher costs of American talent, saying, “Great, more weekends for Canadians.”

Canadian comedy veteran Kenny Robinson, the producer of Yuk Yuk’s The Nubian Show, says of booking American comics Big Jay Oakerson and Kevin Heart for shows, “They wept all the way back to Philly after converting their money.”