Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I SURROUND MYSELF WITH EXCELLENT PEOPLE. People who, if given the opportunity, could do anything. With the right support and a few minutes of training they could ace a job at Starbucks or command a space shuttle. And I really believe that. Ali is one of those people.

In my previous professional life, I managed a succession of theatres and concert halls, hiring a lot of teenagers, college kids and post-grads who needed a fun part-time job. I dragged Ali around to no fewer than three different venues, because she's great at life and I wanted to be very-near her on a regular basis.

You see, she's hysterically funny. (And smart and pretty and blah blah blah.) Aside from being a member of Toronto's sketch comedy troupe, The Sketchersons, she's also a taste-tester at  Canada's preeminent Chinese buffet restaurant, and her impression of a Human Thumb is legendary. She also stars in Gay Nerds, a top-notch web series where her best work comes in the form of a shot-for-shot take on Michelle Pfeiffer's classic Cat Woman transformation scene.

She, uh, wears a lot of hats.

Ali is the child of a university professor and a lawyer, raised in Calgary, Alberta. She's a classically trained actor who made the move to Toronto four years ago where she studied with Second City and graduated from their Sketch Writing program. She refuses to discuss the pervasive women aren't funny argument, and single-handedly makes a mockery of the very notion. 

At 26 she's well on her way to Comedy Industry Domination, though well aware of the fact that life is long and there's lots of time to figure it out. While stand-ups seem to carry around a boatload of baggage-turned-comedy-gold, Ali comes at it from another angle. She loves nothing more than donning a wig and a swath of makeup, losing herself in a moment of improvised insanity, without relying on childhood demons for inspiration. They were few and far between, after all. But happy people can be funny, too.

Here are some out of context moments from our conversation.

I'M NOT A GOOD STORYTELLER. I tell really garbage stories. I have no idea how to structure it.

I don't have a lot of things I like to soapbox about. I DON'T NEED TO STIR THE POT. I don't think comedy requires controversy. 

HERE'S THE THING ABOUT SAD CLOWNS: I can't speak to it because it's not how I operate.

BEING MYSELF ON STAGE IS TERRIFYING. I can't do it. It's easier to wear a wig and be someone completely different.

My parents have always been very supportive. WE HAD A GREAT DRESS-UP BOX.

The 'women aren't funny' thing doesn't exist in my life. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT I'M DOING. If I hear it come up, I completely shut down.

I'm getting better at just being alone in my ... WHATEVER MY SELF IS.

No! You get free access to the buffet, AND THAT'S PAYMENT ENOUGH.


I always want WRITING to be the foundation of my creative life.

Emotional instability lends itself to stand-up. BUT SKETCH COMES FROM A PROPENSITY FOR SILLINESS. 

One time on stage I ate a whole jar of fake mayonnaise to Burt Bacharach's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again". I ended the thing with "I just wanted to be a sandwich." I MEAN, IT'S JUST DUMB STUFF.


(Shot in Ali's downtown Toronto home on October 1, 2012.)


  1. Such a great series — the different perspectives are totally inspiring. Keep 'em coming.