The Comedy Bar

Toronto’s comedy scene suffers from “a self-imposed lack of cool,” says Gary Rideout Jr., co-owner of Comedy Bar, which opens near Bloor and Ossington on Friday night. With Comedy Bar, Rideout and his business partner James Elksnitis aim to lure a young, hip downtown crowd, booking edgy stand-up, sketch and improv acts. Think along the lines of Sarah Silverman, not Ray Romano.

Set in a low-ceilinged basement, formerly an Eritrean restaurant and pool hall, Comedy Bar aims to become a kind of hub for Toronto’s young comedy scene. “The community here isn’t as big as it is in New York, Chicago, or L.A., but we don’t lack talent,” says the 30-year-old Rideout, a member of Toronto’s esteemed Sketchersons comedy troupe. What’s been lacking, he says, is the right venue – a kind of hub for the scene. “Comics like to hang out with other comics.” Here, they will: Comedy Bar features a performance space, a bar, a lounge and a dinner menu featuring everything from burger to daily crepes, offering comics – and audiences – a place to hang out, both before and after the show.

For its grand opening, Comedy Bar is hosting a weekend of free performances: The All-Time Best Of The Sketchersons, on Friday; a variety show, on Saturday; and the return of Sunday Night Live, the Sketchersons’ weekly showcase of new material. We’re ready to laugh. Are you?

Grand opening,
Friday at 6:30 pm; Then, open daily from 6 pm – 2 am, 945 Bloor Street West. For the schedule, visit

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