January 2021 is so loaded with content to watch, we had to create a second volume of recommendations! See our thoughts on some things you might find interesting to stream!
HUMOUR RESOURCES (CBC)
I first got my introduction to charismatic Jon Dore when he was a correspondent on Canadian Idol. We’re going wayyyy back. Since then, he’s continued to tour, had a show on The Comedy Network and appeared on Sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother.
He’s back with a new Just for Laughs-produced Series, HUMOUR RESOURCES, which has him taking on the role of the Human Resources Manager of Comedy where he interviews fellow Comedians under the context of a virtual chat to discuss their “performance”, effectively doubling the Series as a mock talk show. This, while he navigates fictional situations in his life with his stepdaughter Emma and partner Christina at home. Interestingly, this was created just recently amidst the pandemic.
The talent featured is actually quite impressive including chats with the likes of Sarah Silverman, Tom Green, Nikki Glaser, Scott Thompson, Ronny Chieng, Debra DiGiovanni and several more. Episodes are 30 minutes and there are six for you to enjoy.
We felt he could’ve played-up the deadpan HR Manager bit even more, as the subjects sometimes feel unsure of the context. It might’ve been even funnier that these Comedians get grilled with more sternness. Regardless, Dore has a good idea and this is a quick, fun watch. You can stream now on CBC Gem here.
THE HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS (NETFLIX)
We can’t get enough Nicolas Cage! The History of Swear Words is a six-episode Docu-Series hosted by the Oscar winner, tracing the etymology of curse words like “fuck”, “shit”, “pussy”, “dick” , “bitch” and “damn”. With the help of a panel of Comedians including Nick Offerman, Sarah Silverman, Nikki Glaser, London Hughes and more, we get a briefing of how these words have evolved over time. In some instances taking on negative connotations, but in some instances we see how words like “bitch” and “shit” have been reclaimed as terms with positive connotations. While we feel the deep dive could’ve been even deeper, this is entertaining enough a watch and insightful enough as a conversation piece. The History of Swear Words streams now on Netflix.
We haven’t been so excited for a new Series in quite some time! This nine-episode Series transports Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in the world of classic television Sitcoms as we explore their chemistry over their course of the Series as they try to be a normal American family. Olsen particularly is a standout just absolutely nailing the diction, tone and speech of the eras she’s placed in. While we struggled to understand how exactly this all ties in with Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it all becomes clearer piece by piece with small connections scattered. We’ve never seen anything quite like this and we’re certain this will be back for more! Can’t wait for you to discover it. First two episodes stream on Disney+ Friday, January 15, 2021.
COBRA KAI (NETFLIX)
If you’re like me, you adored The Karate Kid franchise as a kid, but I’m not sure why I was so reluctant to give Cobra Kai a try. In fact, I let three seasons pass by before finally giving it a shot. The Series reunites rivals Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) whom 30+ years later find their feud ignited as adults. Daniel is a successful car dealership owner with a great home and family. Johnny has a bit of a drinking problem, coming out of a failed marriage with a strained relationship with his son Robby (Tanner Buchanan). He is hoping to revive Cobra Kai, but is struggling financially and winds up mentoring a bullied and frail teen named Miguel (Xolo Maridueña). Johnny hasn’t forgotten how Daniel got in the way of his dream girl Ali (Elisabeth Shue) and he is out to avenge his loss in their last match back in 1984. Daniel also hasn’t forgotten some of the ill philosophies that Cobra Kai stands for and this awakens his passion again for Martial Arts. Things get complicated when Daniel’s daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Miguel fall for one another, but then Robby seeks Daniel’s guidance as a fighting mentor. And this is enough to fuel three seasons worth of ass-kicking drama.
While the dialogue is shockingly a slap in the face at progressiveness at times, its Writers are fully aware what they are doing and it is little wonder why Cobra Kai is connecting with audiences right now in need of catharsis and a release of aggression during this pandemic. Aside from this, it feels nostalgic and its Soundtrack which often nods to the original era of the franchise help take us back there. Its decision to see this from the side of Johnny Lawrence is an inspired and ballsy move which has paid dividends. All three seasons of COBRA KAI are available now on Netflix.
This two-part Documentary by Co-Directors Matthew Hamachek and Matthew Heineman about golf icon Tiger Woods, documents his rise from a very age under the guidance of his father Earl. Though archived footage we see first-hand how his father had prophesied his son’s greatness into existence. The Film isn’t afraid to examine their estrangement from one another as Woods‘ star rose and also some of the problems in their family life. Following the death of his father, the second-half of the Documentary details Woods‘ public downfall around 2009 when he found himself at the center of a scandal where it was exposed he had been involved in multiple extra-marital affairs, losing his wife and several sponsorship deals. One of the women he had been involved with, Rachel Uchitel who had felt her side of the story on the matter had yet to be told, agrees to sign-on to speak in the Documentary. From here we witness his rise again. TIGER examines cause and consequence in Wood’s life and also the relationships that came to define him. The first half is available now on Crave with the HBO add-on, with the second half arriving January 18, 2021.
BLING EMPIRE (NETFLIX)
If you loved Crazy Rich Asians, these characters are actually the real deal! Set in glamorous L.A., we follow the lives of a circle of friends. This eight-episode series is none short of juicy as we see dueling Queen Bees Christine (founder of Beverly Hills Plastic Surgery Inc and wife of Dr. Gabriel Chu) and the mysterious Anna (heiress to an arms empire) fire friendly shots at one another. Kevin (a model) is our eyes into this world as he tries to grapple with his wealthy friends’ excess, while at once trying to make sense of his own Korean-American identity. He was adopted by an American family at a young age, not knowing his biological parents and their story. He is best friends with the flamboyant Singaporean fashionista Kane, who sits in the chair of the judgy onlooker who also helps give us insight into this world. Kelly is in a bit of a toxic relationship which her friends disapprove of, though sometimes she doesn’t know what’s best for her. Kim is a world-renowned DJ on a search for her estranged father. Cherie is expecting a second child, but her partner is stalling on the marriage proposal still. There’s a bit of betrayal that keeps the show moving along, but none detrimental that these characters sever ties – just the way we want it. We’re thrilled for you to discover this fun escape which never loses sight beneath the gloss of its deeper meaning about finding one’s identity.
There has to be a Season Two!
BLING EMPIRE arrives Friday, January 15, 2021 on Netflix.
NIGHT STALKER: THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER (NETFLIX)
This honestly was so horrifying I had to take breaks and turn on the lights. This four-part Series documenting a serial killer who tormented Los Angeles one summer in the mid-80s. He was random about who he preyed on – neither children nor the elderly were safe from this sinister predator who sent detectives on a restless chase before he ultimately was captured. We learn about the roadblocks and obstacles the two lead detectives faced trying to keep clues classified, as media threatened to destroy their case divulging too much information to the public.
This is outstanding storytelling which gave me major anxiety, but also beneath this is a story about how the investigation tore one detective apart from his family as the Night Stalker‘s crimes circled closer and closer to their home. We also get first-hand accounts from some victims and family who made the grizzly discovery of his victim’s bodies. We felt an overwhelming feeling of grief for these victims and their families, whose lives were altered forever after the summer of ’85. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but if true crime is your thing, this was done very well.
LOCKED DOWN (HBO MAX/CRAVE)
While originally intended to be a much larger production when it was announced September 2020, the ongoing Pandemic had forced this to alter its course and we wonder what would’ve came of it otherwise. This Heist-Comedy from Director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow) clocks-in at two hours but truly could’ve been told in a fraction of that as it spends much of its time exploring the work lives and romantic falling-out between its two central characters Linda (Anne Hathaway) and Paxton (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The couple are on the verge of separation but the lockdown forces them to remain together longer and they devise a plan to steal a jewel valued at £6 million at Harrod‘s. Only in its Final Act do things pick-up outside of what feels like a lot of video conference calls and time spent within the confines of their shared flat, and they venture to Harrod’s to carry out the heist. And this is where LOCKED DOWN goes from okay to great, with Hathaway shining yet again, this time taking a bit more of an active role in a crime than her posh prima donna in Ocean’s Eight. This is smart and witty, but admittedly feels a bit long. If you’re willing to sit through it, you’ll be rewarded. LOCKED DOWN streams now on Crave with HBO add-on.
In case you missed our last volume of recommendations, you can catch them here.
The show must go on! Just for Laughs are gifting those of us missing-out on the in-person component of the 2021 Festival. You’ll be pleased to know those of you with SiriusXM will have access to the Just for Laughs Virtual Comedy Festival.
The virtual line-up is as follows. From July 20-25, the two one-hour shows will air each day on SiriusXM’s comedy channels:
Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Radio Channel 96: 2pm & 6pm ET
Raw Dog Comedy Channel 99: 12pm & 9pm ET
Laugh USA Channel 98: 1pm & 7pm ET
Jeff & Larry’s Comedy Roundup Channel 97: 3pm & 8pm ET
Comedy Greats Channel 94: 4pm & 5pm ET
Just For Laughs Canada Channel 168: 24 hours a day
Just for Laughs also have confirmed today that their Festival and their sister Festival Juste pour rire, both will entirely be digital this Fall. Just for Laughs will take place October 9-10, 2020 and the latter will be a hybrid of in-person, pre-recorded and virtual performances taking place September 29-October 10, 2020.
Just for Laughs is in high gear and that star sightings continue to build! The premier Comedy Festival runs till September 29, 2019 with Toronto hosting a hotbed of comedic talent. Today we spotted Michael Rapaport out and about and with him were some familiar faces including Logan Lerman and Dean Collins in his entourage. We spotted them heading to Gabby’s on King Street for a bite.
We also spotted Esther Povitsky (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) after her gig at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
The delightfully-funny Jonathan Van Ness is among the fantastic lineup of comedians in Toronto for the JUST FOR LAUGHS Comedy Festival. The Grooming Expert and star of Netflix’s revival of QUEER EYE venturing into Stand-Up Comedy delivered a spirited set with additional support from others including Naomi Ekperegin, who was a joy. While he showed room for potential, he came sharp with observations about Toronto including U.S. Open victress Bianca Andreescu and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s blackface scandal. Regardless, the audience was forgiving and were able to be won by his personality, dancing and gymnastics even. He jokes he fired his agent for booking him the same night as Lizzo in Toronto, the Singer appearing tonight at Budweiser Stage.
We had the pleasure of meeting him afterwards and he was high on getting everyone to watch what he considered an epic moment in history, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic Team – The Magnificent Seven’s victory in the 1996 Olympics.
Running September 19 through 29, 2019, the right annual JFL42 Festival presented by SiriusXM is about to come to Toronto to lift us from those post-TIFF blues! This year is better than ever with a roster of talent that’s fresh and now including the likes of John Mulaney and Pete Davidson, Jonathan Van Ness, Gabrial Iglesias, Nick Kroll, Marc Maron, Eric Andre, How Did This Get Made and icon Carol Burnett all making their way to the City. The latter, just received earlier this year the inaugural Carol Burnett Award for Achievement in Television at the Golden Globe Awards. Her special event will be known as CAROL BURNETT: AN EVENING OF LAUGHTER AND REFLECTION.
The Festival also will feature In Conversations with the likes of Nick Kroll, Michael Rapaport, Steve-O and Cristela Alonzo, as part of the the Festival’s ComedyCon.
Passes go on sale Friday, June 7, 201910 AM and single tickets go on sale June 14 at 10:00 AM at www.jfl42.com.
Funnyman T.J. Miller finally is seeing the fruits of his labour being front and center where he belongs. After cutting his teeth several years on the stand-up circuit, he headlines his own show tomorrow night as part of his Alternative Comedy Tour which hits Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. He appears tonight in Ottawa.
Making the most of his time here, he has had a whirlwind past couple days doing lots of radio and television including CP24 Breakfast, Your Morning, Q, The Morning Show and The Roz and Mocha Show. Miller gathered the energy for a radio appearance before the break of dawn, donning a Remembrance Day poppy, soda and Starbucks in his hand. All the caffeines, please. ✔ Don’t act like you haven’t been there!
The star of She’s Out of My League, Silicon Valley, Deadpool and The Emoji Movie filmed a quick cameo here for GOON 2: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS in the City too last year. While he’s known for his signature humour, Miller actually tells The Roz and Mocha Show that his acting roots are more rooted in Horror. He can be seen next alongside Kristen Stewart in Thriller Underwater.
Fame came fast and furious for Ali Wong, the Funnywoman in Toronto to headline the Just for Laughs Festival, selling-out four shows at both Wintergarden Theatre and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
After honing her craft for many years as an Actress (credits include Oliver Stone‘s Savages and Inside Amy Schumer), a Stand-Up Comedian cutting her teeth before the tough-to-please New York crowd and a Writer (she has penned three seasons of ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat), San Francisco-born Wong gained much popularity through her 2015 Netflix Special, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra. Almost unheard-of she taped the Special covering several provocative topics, while seven months pregnant.
Wong at Wintergarden Theatre just recorded an upcoming special for Netflix, footage to be taken from two back-to-back shows debuting new material including her new-found perspective as a mom. She appeared tonight at Sony Centre, her final of four sold-out appearances with hilarious opener Kevin Camia. More here.
While airing her grievances about giving childbirth, she heard the cries of a baby in the audience and a fan with her six-month-old baby came forward to the stage. Wong joked that the point of the Show was to escape babies and questioned whether she was really hearing a baby or if it was actually PTSD!
Taking place tonight at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, the fifth annual Canadian Screen Awards honoured the year’s best in Television, Film and Digital Media. Earning top honours tonight was ORPHAN BLACK with five wins for Best Dramatic Series, Original Score, Supporting Actor (Kevin Hanchard), Writing and Lead Actress (Tatiana Maslany). The Toronto-made Series, which currently is filming its final episode, will be premiering its fifth and final season Saturday,June 10, 2017.
Leading the way in the Film categories was Xavier Dolan‘s IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD. The French-Canadian Film which was Canada’s submission at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film this year, took home Best Picture, Best Director (Dolan), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Makeup and Best Supporting Actor (Vincent Cassel).
Regina-born Actress Tatiana Maslany was the queen of the night, winning for both her work on Orphan Black and as Lead Actress in the Feature Film The Other Half in which she stars opposite her real-life partner Tom Cullen.
Toronto’s Stephan James took home Lead Actor for his work on sports drama RACE. He stated, “The greatest honour of my career was to portray Jesse Owens.”. The Film also won for Visual Effects, Overall Sound and Sound Editing.
Hosted by a spirited Howie Mandel, the evening also saw icon Christopher Plummer win a Lifetime Achievement Award. He says, “I’ve spent almost 70 years making a fool of myself in this crazy profession of ours. And I’ve had the time of my life.”.
Comedian Dave Chappelle also flew-in for the occasion, presenting the Icon Award to JUST FOR LAUGHS. He credits the organization for helping him achieve his big break, joking “I’d never came to Canada before I came to this festival and when I did, I found that Canada was kinder and gentler, like a little gay brother I didn’t know about.”.
See Red Carpet Highlights from the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards:
See Amanda Gilmore‘s and my Interviews with some of the evening’s stars on the Red Carpet including the cast of Kim’s Convenience and Dave Chappelle:
Some Snaps from the Evening:
Shailyn Pierre-Dixon, “Between”
Sangita Patel, “ET Canada”
Dylan Authors x Mike MacMillan, “WEIRDOS”
Simu Liu, “Kim’s Convenience”
Karine Vanasse, “Cardinal”
Michelle Nolden, “Saving Hope”
Erica Durance, “Saving Hope”
Chloe Wilde, “eTalk”
Penny Oleksiak, Gold Medal Olympian
Kim Coates, GOON
Kevan Funk x Jared Abrahamson, “Hello Destroyer”
Christopher Plummer, Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
From September 24 through October 3, 2015, Torontonians are treated to the thrill that is the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. Giving us access to some amazing comedy acts this year, the Festival is headlined by the likes of Patton Oswalt, Craig Ferguson, Chris Hardwick, John Mulaney, Gilbert Gottfried, T.J. Miller, Ilsa Schlesinger, Grace Helbig and new Daily Show Host as of Monday, Trevor Noah.
Although we’re positively pooped from TIFF ’15, the Festival gives us another reason to be out this weekend and at Sony Centre tonight we got the absolute pleasure of meeting two of the JFL 42‘s biggest names, Noah and Hardwick. Despite being in a rush to fly-out presumably to New York to work on his high-profile new gig, Noah was amazing to stop and roll-down his window for a Selfie. I happened to be in striking position and was one of only a few to get that snap! “Take off your lenscap!”, he directed me amidst the commotion.
Hardwick, known best for hosting AMC‘s The Walking Dead Aftershow, Talking Dead, was most gracious. He arrived super-early for his 9:45 PM show and had security ready to keep his fans in order, stopping for autographs, chats and photos with the large crowd. A champ!