YYComedy Festival began as the inspired vision of festival founder Cory Mack in October 2011. Calgary had been designated as Canada’s Cultural Capital for 2012, and the same year a great number of comedically-connected anniversaries were taking place throughout the city. These included the 100th anniversary of the Grand Theatre, the 35th of the Loose Moose Theatre Company and their creation Theatresports, Yuks Yuks was celebrating their 25th and the Comedy Cave their 10th. Clearly this city loves and appreciates comedy, and the combination of these events loudly suggested that it was the right time to start building a comedy festival.
With the help of friend AJ Demers, co-founders Harry Doupe and James Sutherland, Cory got the ball rolling. The team has changed somewhat, with the departure of Harry and AJ and the addition of Anna Gustafson as producer and Heather Maitland as volunteer coordinator, but the name of the game is still to bring a remarkable live comedy experience to Calgary.
To date, the YYComedy Festival has featured acts like Brent Butt, Janeane Garafalo, Brian Posehn, Jessica Holmes, Harland Williams, Andy Kindler, Mary Walsh, Mike Wilmot, Steve Patterson, Mike MacDonald, Nikki Payne, Derek Edwards, Emo Philips, Debra DiGiovanni, Todd Barry, Falcon Powder, the Kids In The Hall, Seán Cullen, DeAnne Smith, Ryan Belleville, Darrin Rose, Lachlan Patterson, Dave Merheje, Ali Hassan, Tim Steeves, Kenny Robinson, Erica Sigurdson, Pete Zedlacher, Andrew Phung, Christina Walkinshaw, K. Trevor Wilson, Nathan Macintosh, Laurie Elliot, Trent McLellan, Ivan Decker, Sean Majumder, former Calgargians Levi MacDougal, Amanda Brook Perrin, Graham Clark, Allyson Smith and Ophira Eisenberg, mixed in with the best of the incredible comedic talent that call Calgary home.
The comedy landscape is changing, as are the ways in which comedy is consumed, and that has us looking at our festival differently as well as how we want to impact our community, as comedians and as neighbours. Part of what we want to do is bring comedy back in close rather than continue to grow into larger and larger venues, as we have been, and is becoming a trend with stadium shows. As exciting as it is to be laughing with thousands of people, and as proud as we are that Calgary now warrants shows of such a grand scale, we believe remarkable live comedy happens up close, in smaller theatre spaces like you’re seeing on Netflix, Crave and Comedy Channels. Incredible acts in charming venues. It’s not the only way, but it’s our favourite.
Historically we’ve landed in the fall but with this shift away from what our festival has been, we are moving into the spring at the start of Calgary’s festival season. When people start moving outside and squinting into the sun again. Looking for ways to shake off winter. We’re excited to be more in alignment with the extraordinary festival culture that Calgary has become known for, pleased to have new and more accessible locations, and are eager to release details in the coming weeks.
And, without question, we remain steadfast in our mission to bring more laughter to your lives.