For Edmontonians looking to laugh and get a taste of some of Canada’s best comedy, this week is looking up.
The second annual Grindstone Comedy Festival has kicked off in the Ritchie neighbourhood, at the group’s small indie theatre just south of Whyte Avenue.
“We booked a full Canadian lineup,” said Kathleen McGee, the director of the festival. “We’re not bringing in a big name headliner from America … we’ve got our own Canadian stars. It’s really exciting.”
The Grindstone Theatre launched the festival last summer in the midst of the pandemic, inspired by other indie festivals in Canada like the Oddblock Festival in Winnipeg.
Last year’s Grindstone festival took place with some restrictions like audience limits and masking, but the second instalment of the event will see a return to normalcy as cases in Alberta remain relatively low.
“We feel very lucky and excited to get back to it,” Byron Martin, the artistic director of Grindstone Theatre, said.
“It’s what we love to do, it’s our profession. We’re so excited to have the theatre full again.”
The Grindstone Theatre opened in 2018 after the improv group behind it ran a crowdfunding campaign.
This year’s lineup features some Canadian names in comedy like Jon Dore (The Jon Dore Television Show, Baroness von Sketch Show), Chris Locke (Baroness von Sketch Show), Adrienne Fish, Andrea Jin and Ryan Williams.
Edmonton-based comedians and improvisers will also be featured alongside the visiting performers.
“What happens so much is Canadians have to go to the States to get famous or to get recognition,” McGee said. “We want to recognize these comedians here. We want you to know their names.
“We want you to find your new favourite comedian (at the festival), and they’re going to be Canadian.”
The theatre has also constructed a new outdoor stage to expand the festival.
The event kicked off Wednesday and runs until Sunday, July 25. Tickets are available online.
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