The Addictive Comedy gang is back – with a special four-performance show Feb. 23 to Feb. 25 at Peninsula Productions’ black box theatre in Centennial Park.
The show will run at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25, with an extra matinee Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
While the newest show may hit on some touchy issues of contemporary life, its principal intention is to take the audience along on a comedy ride, co-producer and performer Karina Cebuliak said.
The group started as an outgrowth of Lizzie Allan’s original Addictive Comedy program providing an outlet for those with addictions, or suffering the effects of trauma, to use stand-up comedy as a form of therapy.
But somewhere along the way it morphed into a vehicle for key members (and comedy kindred spirits) Allan, Cebuliak and Ellen Bradley-Cheung to present shows blending edgy stand-up with some truly hilarious group sketches – the most recent presented highly successfully – just pre-COVID – at the intimate Peninsula Productions space.
“Addictive Comedy was retired for a while in favour of ‘Hilarapy’ as the name for Lizzie’s program,” Cebuliak said.
“But this show is a resurgence of the Addictive Comedy brand that is not under the umbrella of Hilarapy.”
They’ve been having a lot of fun putting together new material, she said, even though there’s “a certain vulnerability” in putting forward ideas that struck you as funny to the toughest audience of all – a group of your peers.
“You have to get past that, and realize that there is something funny there, if you get it down to its purest form. Where we wind up is often quite different from where we started.”
Cebuliak said the root of her own comedy is observation.
“Sometimes I’ll be walking along and I’ll see something that I think would be so funny if I did it in stand-up,” she said.
“The other day my husband did something and I said, ‘that’s going in the show’. He said ‘If it is, I’m divorcing you.’ I said,’Okay – if you’re going to challenge me like that, I’m doing it’.”
As people who’ve enjoyed her performances will attest, Cebuliak’s observations tend to be filtered through her wicked sense of the absurd and a knack for dynamic presentation – including costuming, and the use of dummy/puppet/alter-ego, ‘Donny’.
“Donny will be back this time, by popular demand,” she promised.
Allan’s comic professionalism and dry take on the foibles of everyday life is well known, and well appreciated by Addictive Comedy’s audience, Cebuliak said.
“Everyone loves Lizzie. Her outside perspective, coming from England, gives her unique insights into being Canadian, and how we are as a culture.
“Her range is huge – she can focus on little things but then go on to speak about these major, serious issues, but somehow you’re still laughing.”
Bradley-Cheung is also very popular with the audience, Cebuliak said, partly because they sense her innately supportive, gentle nature.
“Ellen talks about issues that affect people of a certain age, but they’re very relatable issues,” she said.
“She’s the giver of our group – that nature comes through, even when she’s trying to be the diva.”
In addition to Donny, some favourite sketch segments will be back for this show, including ‘Quiz Addiction’ – and some ironic lip-syncing, Cebuliak said.
And, as the poster for the new show remarks, the core gang of Addictive Comedy is also bringing some friends along for the ride.
Siobhan Coates, known through Hilarapy as a ‘Laughter Yoga’ leader, will be spotlighted, along with emerging comedy talent Shulamite Mlobela, who was previously featured in one of Hilarapy’s showcase events.
“Siobhan has more energy than the rest of us combined,” Cebuliak said, adding that what makes her set particularly funny is that it’s grounded in “who she is and what she wants to do.”
“She’s ranting about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur, how it means she has to be an accountant, how she has to sell, how she has to do cold-calling.”
Mlobela’s wholesome demeanour is offset by a wit that is “shocking” because it is unexpected, Cebuliak said.
“She’s so lovely and so sweet that she takes people by surprise,” she added. “You’re saying ‘wait a minute – did she just say what I think she said?’”
Pre-booking tickets for the Addictive Comedy show is recommended as they will likely not be available at the door, Cebuliak said.
For reservations, visit hilarapy.com/events-2 or call