Comedy

Meet Nadine Bhabha, This Hour Has 22 Minutes' fresh talent

The newest featured player of the show, Bhabha made her first 22 Minutes appearance in The 2020 Blues episode.

The newest featured player of the show, Bhabha made her first 22 Minutes appearance in The 2020 Blues episode.

Nadine Bhabha as the Philadelphia Angel in This Hour has 22 Minutes. (CBC)

When This Hour Has 22 Minutes put out a talent search for its new season in August, Nadine Bhabha sent in a Late Night with Seth Meyers-style piece she wrote, called "Quarintime with Nadine Bhabha," along with her Tiger King home parody. 

Bhabha's audition materials caught the eye of the 22 Minutes team and got her on board as a featured player. Bhabha said working with the group of writers has been "super interesting, very informative and downright hilarious."

"It's a really interesting, very cool experience to come in and basically get a masterclass in how to write for TV," she said.

"The team of writers that they've picked are just incredible and they make my job as an actor really easy."

"I have not known another path"

Bhabha's love for the performative arts started at a young age.

"I'm one of those stories where I have not known another path. I was memorizing commercials when I was two and performing them for my family," she said.

After graduating from theatre school at York University, Bhabha has starred in many TV productions including LetterKenny, Barbelle, and CBC original series About Sex.

"I feel like once you start doing one or two comedies, you get known for being funny or being a comedian," she said. 

"So a lot of my career has been shaped by my choices to pursue comedic work."

Although 22 Minutes is the first political comedy show Bhabha has starred in, she has always been interested in politics and expressing how she views the world in creative ways.

"Making the move to a show about political comedy was not that drastic of a transition for me," said Bhabha.

Her passion for writing comes from the urge to write stories she didn't see but thinks are worth-telling, Bhabha said. She has self-published her poetry collection Sweat

"No one really gives you anything out of the blue, you sort of have to carve out paths for yourself and writing is something that I find fun."

Stay woke and be funny

Bhabha said in recent years, more and more comedians have been using humour to inform the audience on important issues, sometimes even playing a similar role as journalists.

I think a really good way to metabolize the news and to digest information is with a spoonful of comedy on top. It's just more relatable, and also it's just physically and emotionally less of a toll that's taken.- Nadine Bhabha

Being a young woman of colour and daughter of immigrants, Bhabha said she hopes to bring a fresh perspective that will resonate with more people.

"With every different kind of person you bring in[to the show], you open up that new audience," she said.

"I feel quite blessed to be able to look at the world in a way, and then get to express it to a lot of people and have their opinions and thoughts be reflected on television."

22 Minutes Nadine Bhabha (CBC)

Making plans in shaky times

After losing a big theatre contract in the beginning of the pandemic, Bhabha had plenty of downtime which she dedicated to writing. She sought comfort in writing short films and went on to write several features as well as a TV pilot.

"I think the amount of time that COVID has shown us, that we take for granted, has really allowed me to find my voice as a writer," said Bhabha.

With her comedy work and new gig with 22 Minutes, Bhabha has been fulfilling her goal "to make people laugh and make people feel good"— but there's a lot more she wants to achieve.

"It's so funny to make goals for shaky time… my main goal over the next year is to produce my own work and to participate in more jobs that continue to tell diverse stories," Bhabha said.

"I'm so interested in making sure the little girl in me feels satisfied by the work I'm putting out."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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