An audience of more 1,400 people at the Danforth Music Hall discovered on Oct. 19 that laughter is the same in any language. Eight of Canada’s most prominent standup comedians, like Angelo Tsarouchas and Debra DiGiovanni, took the stage for the 10th annual “Accent on Toronto,” a celebration of ethnic comedy.
Having seen her project grow over the past decade, CBC Radio’s Tracy Rideout expressed a pleasant surprise at the show’s success.
“I didn’t think I’d be doing it 10 years later, to tell you the truth,” said Rideout, the producer of Radio One’s Laugh Out Loud with Craig Norris. “This is ‘The Little Show That Could.’”
For Frank Spadone, another of the evening’s performers, “Accent on Toronto” represented a homecoming — and the touring veteran of close to 15 years jumped at the chance to appear on the bill.
“Toronto’s one of those cities. There’s so much diversity and so many cultures here that, even when you’re talking about your own, which usually people love to hear, the stories are so real and they can relate it to their own stories,” explained Spadone, born and raised in Toronto. “Coming to Toronto, doing a show here, especially with a show like this and other comics, who are bringing in (their communities)…. Angelo (Tsarouchas) is on it, so the Greeks are here…. Filipinos. It’s great.”
Having the decade-milestone show held at the Danforth Music Hall was crucial for Rideout, and she conveyed her gratitude for procuring the building for the night.
“I wanted the show to be in the community. I didn’t want it to be in a large, corporatized theatre,” said Rideout.
“I wanted it to be in a community and a family-owned business…. It’s been here since 1919,” she added, referring to the music hall.
Nobody on the card was more excited for the show to be held in the East York area than area resident Gilson Lubin. Lubin, who hosted MTV Live and appeared in his own Comedy Central Premium Blend special, said that performing in East York has been something he had been looking to do for some time.
“I went to two schools that I loved in East York Collegiate and Eastern Commerce and I grew up around here,” said Lubin. “You don’t know how many times I’ve thought ‘Man, I’d love to perform in my neighbourhood,’ even if it was at East York Collegiate or at Eastern Commerce.”
Even though this year’s edition of “Accent on Toronto” only just happened, Rideout has some ideas for how she would like the show to enter its second decade.
“Now that the show has its own energy and its own drive and its own press and people come back year after year, I want to introduce (the audience) to some new people,” she said.