Comedy·NEXT UP

Meet your Top 10 #CBCNextUp finalists

Ten amateur comedians from across Canada are in the running to win CBC Comedy’s NEXT UP contest
From L to R, here's a few of the semi-finalists from CBC Comedy's NEXT UP contest: Rahat Saini; Hassan Phills; Sarah Boston.

CBC Comedy's NEXT UP contest is in the final week of judging. The top 10 comics from this year's contest will have their submissions scored by a jury of comedy professionals to determine one winner to perform at the 2019 Ha!ifax ComedyFest.

Over February and March, each longlisted contestant competed in two social challenges that put their comedic writing, performance and social media skills to the test.

After the top 10 semi-finalists were revealed, I spoke with each comedian about their journey through the NEXT UP contest thus far. Only one of these comics will be announced the winner this Friday on March 29, 2019.


Bree Parsons

Home: St. John's, Newfoundland

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Bree's a flight attendant, so she heard the news while she was working in a plane. As the flight landed in St. John's, she took her phone off airplane mode. That's when her phone started buzzing with notifications from friends and family telling her that she made the top 10.

Don't be afraid to fail.- Bree Parsons on advice for other new comics

Advice for other new comics?
"Apply for everything," says Bree in regards to festivals, contests and open mics. "Don't be afraid to fail."

Social challenge highlight:
Bree was tasked to make an original joke on social media about her commute to work. She served this fresh take on what a flight attendant has to go through on their flight back home:


Aaron Heels

Home: Bolton, Ontario

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
At the Royal Ontario Museum trying to withhold his excitement in a quiet exhibit. "I was internally screaming," says Aaron.

Get over your own doubt.- Aaron Heels on advice for other new comics

Advice for other new comics?
"Get over your own doubt… The more time you put yourself on hold, the less time you have to make it happen," says Aaron.

Social challenge highlight:
Aaron tackles the first social media challenge about commuting with some sobering thoughts about being funemployed:


Jon Brett

Home: Essex, Ontario

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
At the receptionist's desk at the dentist after getting a crown put in. Jon called his wife to tell her the news and "she started crying," recalls Jon. From that point on, word got around to his friends and family that he made the top 10.

Advice for other new comics?
"Put yourself out there and don't give up," says Jon.

Social challenge highlight:
For his second social media challenge, Jon's task was to make original joke about his hometown. He recorded a song about Essex, Ontario and its wealth of various pizza places.

Warning: this tune might get stuck in your head.

 

Sarah Boston

Home: Toronto, Ontario

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
She was about to take a call at work about a serious surgery consultation (Sarah is an oncologist veterinarian, she treats cancer in animals) when she discovered she made the top 10. "I had this huge adrenaline rush!" recalls Sarah.

Advice for other new comics?
Sarah advises to take classes in comedy and writing to learn new skills and expand your creative network.

Social challenge highlights:
In her second social challenge, Sarah Boston worked up the nerve to perform some material in a busy Service Ontario waiting room.


Jill Knight

Home: Toronto, Ontario

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Jill was at work when she got the good news. She shared her excitement with her co-workers by exclaiming, "Top 10, bitches!"

Advice for other new comics?
"Always enter [contests], you never know what people are going to think... you might strike a chord with someone," says Jill.

Social challenge highlights:
In her second social challenge, Jill gets down with O.P.P. — the Ontario Provincial Police. Check it out:


Rahat Saini

Home: Victoria, British Columbia

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Rahat was frantically working on an assignment in one of the change rooms in the theatre department where she studies at UVic. She froze up when she got the news — she couldn't believe it. She burst into the hallway and shared her excitement with some students.

The only one that has the power to change how people see you — is you.- Rahat Saini on advice for other new comics

Advice for other new comics?
"Fear is a very necessary part" of being a performer, says Rahat.

"I deal with the fear of putting myself out there every day… Putting yourself out there can be scary… [but] the only one that has the power to change how people see you — is you."

Social challenge highlights:
Rahat flexes her writing skills for her first social challenge about her commute to school:


Erin Jeffery

Home: New Westminster, British Columbia

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Erin had made a stop at a gas station in Comox on her way back from a spa retreat with a friend. Her email notifications brought her the good news and she "squealed very loudly and slightly embarassingly" in the gas station parking lot.

Advice for other new comics?
"You're [at your] funniest when you're talking about your truth and reality," says Erin.

Social challenge highlight:
For the second social challenge, we asked comedians to make a video about their hometown and a few comics paid homage to the classic Rick Mercer rants. Here's the material Erin came up with about her hometown of Cobble Hill:


Alistair Ogden

Home: Vancouver, British Columbia

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
He was loading plates into a dishwasher at work when he heard the good news. He texted his girlfriend and quickly told his nearest coworker before getting back to work to deal with the lunch rush.

Social challenge highlight:
The first social challenge pushed Alistair to write some new material about his commute. Biking on the Seawall or through Stanley Park seems like a dream on a nice day, but Alistair breaks down the fantasy into reality:


Hassan Phills

Home: North Vancouver, British Columbia

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Hassan was waiting to pick up a prescription at the Superstore pharmacy. He didn't find out about the top ten until one of his mom's friends messaged him. 

Persistence is everything.- Hassan Phills on advice for other new comics

Advice for other new comics?
"Persistence is everything."

Social challenge highlight:
Hassan took the task of writing a joke about his commute by comparing his experiences in Saudi Arabia to North America. Check it out:


Jordan Pines

Home: Toronto, Ontario

Where were they when they discovered they made the top 10?
Jordan was at Starbucks and he "screamed… like a happy scream" when he found that he made the top ten. His parents were thrilled to hear their daily efforts in sharing his submission video for votes on social media had paid off.

Advice for other new comics?
"Take advantage of every opportunity… The worst thing that [can] happen, is that someone says, 'No,' and you move on," says Jordan.

Social challenge highlights:
Jordan makes fun of Toronto for his second social challenge:

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chanel Klein is a multi-platform producer specializing in digital video production. Currently, she produces digital and video content for many of your favourite factual programs at CBC Television's Unscripted Digital division in Toronto. Before working with CBC, Chanel hosted and produced a national award-winning community radio program in Vancouver.

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