Written for a published by Kitchener Today
The 2019 KW Comedy Festival is happening this weekend, with an opening night gala boasting household names in comedy – Shaun Majumder, Bruce McCulloch, Mark Forward, Nathan MacIntosh, Emily Galati, Arthur Simeon, Ali Hassan, and Kate Barron.
Headlining the opening gala, at Centre in the Square, is Canadian born comedian and actor, Sean Majumder. Majumder, host and Gemini-Award winner, is best known for his role on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
The Executive Producer of the festival, Phil LaConte, is in his 25th year as a variety performer. He says he saw a need for this festival and took it upon himself to bring it to the region. His relationships with other artists helped “attract great comics and performers who wanted to come and perform at my event.”
The festival launched in 2010, with two venues in UpTown Waterloo and six comics. Now, in its 10th year, LeConte is proud to host 25 comics, in seven venues – with 13 shows in both Kitchener and Waterloo.
“I would say that if you have never been in a room where 100 – 200 people are all laughing, and having a good time, you are missing out.”
LeConte says that because this year is a milestone, he was able to bring some of his favourite performers to Waterloo Region. “Having the opportunity to work with Shaun Majumdar, Steve Patterson, Nathan Macintosh and Mark Forward again I am looking forward to.” As a Kids in the Hall fans he’s thrilled to have Bruce McCulloch performing in the Opening Gala.
Other notable, and sought-after, performers include Jeremy Hotz, Derek Seguin, Eric Andrews, Rob Bebenek, Byron Bertram, Patrick Haye, Jessica Holmes, and Mike Wood.
The festival offers something for all audiences.
LeConte acknowledges that comedy “is a very personal thing.” With this in mind, the festival includes a family variety show for younger audiences. Entry is free and the show includes performances from Hilby “The Skinny German Juggle Boy,” Jack Wise, “a modern-day Vaudevillian,” as well as Alakazam, “The Human Knot”.
This year, Food and Funny Deals include a $25 gift certificate from Abe Erb, Taste of the Tannery, TWH Social Bar & Bistro, Patent & Social or the Huether Hotel.
LeConte says his goal has always been to present the best comics in the world. The festival offers a unique opportunity to see them perform in intimate venues, “but still make it affordable for as many people as possible.”
It was also important to LeConte to give back to the community. The festival’s charitable partner is The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Non-perishable food and cash donations will be accepted at all venues.
What does the future of the festival look like? LeConte says, “the fact that we could get to 10 years, and expand the way we have, proves that people love this event and as long as people keep coming, we will keep making it happen.”
When asked about whether or not LeConte believes that laughter is the best medicine, he quips, “I am not aware of the science behind laughter, but I can tell you that no matter how you are feeling, or what is going on in your life, if you can have a good laugh not much feels better.”
Show content is intended for a mature audience and is not censored, except for the family variety show.
The Festival runs February 28-March 2. Tickets are available online until 4pm the day of the performance. Tickets at the door are cash only.
Find out more about this hilariously good time here.