Muskoka is staking its claim as one of the comedy capitals of Canada.
A great deal of that can be attributed directly to Muskoka comedian Tyler Morrison, who established the Cottage Country Comedy Festival eight years ago. Since then the festival has become so popular that it’s now one of the largest in the country, and Morrison estimates that only the Festival of Laughs, and Halifax and Winnipeg Comedy Festivals are larger.
“To do that in a smaller marketplace and to have the comedians and the industry respond as well as they have is amazing,” says Morrison.
The comic is again producing this year’s event, which is slated for May 13 at the Rosseau resort in Muskoka Lakes.
This year’s show will feature six comedians, with Montreal’s Derek Seguin as the headliner.
“He won the Sirius FM top comic contest this year, which is one of the biggest comedy competitions in the world,” says Morrison. “We’ve also got a really diverse line-up of hilarious comics. We’ve got John Steinberg; Casey Corbin, who had his own Comedy Now special; Martha Chaves, who’s been on Just For Laughs and Tim Nasiopolous, who’s done the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.”
Once again the show will be taped and broadcast later on the CBC Radio One’s Laugh Out Loud. The show’s host Ali Hassan will also host the Rosseau show. Morrison says the relationship between the Cottage Country Comedy Festival and CBC is a key part of the festival’s success.
“It got started when we had CBC’s The Debaters in – I had met them at a Yuk Yuk’s show and when they came up here I got connected with the producer of Laugh out Loud. It’s evolved from there,” says Morrison. “We’ve got a great relationship. We always make sure we’ve got the highest quality comedians so they can get a few episodes out of one taping.”
Morrison himself won’t be performing his year, other than to introduce the show, joking that he burned through all his “CBC-friendly” material during last year’s show.
The Festival has now grown to the point that it’s well known in Canadian comedy circles, and Morrison says they are constantly thinking ahead to plan line-ups for the next show.
“Some comedians send us videos. I’m also touring all over so I get to work with a lot of the best comedians in the country and you keep your eyes open for comedians who have a unique viewpoint and are crowd killers,” he says. “It’s nothing specific, it’s just when you have that sense as a producer you kind of know when comics are ready to be on the big stage.”
Morrison says it’s also important to book different styles of comedians – for instance some who specialize in one-liners and others who are story tellers.
“You can have some who are higher energy and some who are deadpan, and you want to have a good flow with that. For instance I typically won’t book more than one guy who deadpans per show because you want them to stand out,” he says. “A big part of it is the flow and the energy.”
Morrison says they’ve working hard creating the perfect comedic cocktail for the upcoming show, and coming up with a solid line-up.
“It’s a great night out to bring friends and family, and have some drinks and some laughs right here In Muskoka,” he says.