Photo: Izabella Balcerzak

Ryerson grad took the stage last week at the TO Sketch Comedy Festival

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By Zahraa Alumairy

Gavin Pounds, an RTA graduate, performed with his five-person comedy troupe Dame Judy Dench 11th annual Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival [TOsketchfest].

Their half-hour performance at the Comedy Bar on March 9 included skits about the forensic methods of the Scooby Doo gang (what those Scooby Snacks are really made of), a woman trying to break up with her amateur magician boyfriend, the search for a thief with the most convincing Christopher Walken impression, and more.

The troupe’s first three members were performers and writers Shannon Lahaie, Jessica Greco, and Claire Farmer.

“We liked the irony of whenever someone would introduce us, they’d have to welcome ‘Dame Judy Dench’ to the stage, and then the five of us monsters would walk out,” Greco said.

Pounds joined as a performer and writer for the troupe later and said he tends to bring the “absurdity” to the group’s sketches.

“I feel like Gavin is what gets us our title of ‘fresh’,” said Lahaie.

While his comedic roots began in his hometown of Barrie, Ont., he said it was his time at Ryerson that gave him opportunities to get into comedy.

“One of the main things about Ryerson is just being in the centre of everything, if you want to do comedy, what better place to come than Toronto?” he said.“The best thing about my program is anything that I wanted to do, whether it be comedy, or narrative, or storytelling, regardless of what it was, I could shoehorn it into a video at RTA.”

He said he was also able to find “like-minded” people at the school, and participated in RIOT!, Ryerson’s sketch comedy troupe.

The troupe has performed at the Toronto Fringe Festival (TFF) twice in the past and they performed at seven shows last year.

When asked what their favourite performance thus far, Pounds said, “I can’t imagine any of us feel stronger than how we did about our last Fringe show,” called “Five Kids In A Trench Coat.”

Their performance at the 2015 TFF, the city’s largest theatre festival, received praise from many publications, one being NOW Magazine. They also received a nomination for Outstanding Sketch/Comedic Performance from myentertainmentworld.ca.

Their writing and performance process is heavily influenced by their shared backgrounds in improv comedy, making it “very collaborative” according to Farmer.

“Nobody dictates what we’re doing, it’s just  [the] ’funniest wins,’ and so if you have a script but someone has a better joke for it, then that goes in,” Farmer said. “There’s no egos in that sense.”

TOsketchfest is held every year in March for 12 days, and features live, scripted comedy from across North America. The festival was held this year from March 3-13.

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