Shohana Sharmin is our latest featured Toronto comedian. We recently spoke with her about the two shows she has coming up at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. Her troupe, Not Oasis, is performing at the Theatre Centre March 6 and March 7 and her show “Dead Parents Society,” directed by Canadian Comedy Award-winning director Kirsten Rasmussen,will show at the Streetcar Crowsnest theatre on March 12, 13, and 14.
How would you describe your comedy style?
I think this changes from project to project – sometimes, I want to write sketches about my own complicated divided bicultural identity, other times I want to write about women who have fishmouths (actual sketch, still waiting for the day a director lets me put this on stage FINGERS CROSSED Y’ALL). But generally, I am all about finding the funny in the everyday things that we take for granted. The truth is often stranger and funnier than fiction, and there’s something very rewarding about digging underneath the mundane and finding the comedy gold inside.
Who are some of your influences?
I have always adored women who break the rules and speak their heart out on things you’re “not supposed to talk about in comedy.” Vulnerability in comedy is my drug of choice. Tig Notaro has been my idol/the queen of my heart ever since her incredible “cancer” set at Largo. More recently, Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s “Fleabag” blew me away – all examples of artists who tackle difficult subjects with heart and humour.
Who was your favourite comedian growing up?
I was born and raised in Bangladesh and my absolute favourite comedian growing up was a TV host named Hanif Sanket, who hosted a monthly sketch show called “Ittadi” (translation: Et cetera). It was my first taste of sketch comedy and I was instantly hooked, I used to fight with my mom to stay up late to watch it.
Who is your favourite comedian now?
Honestly, Tig Notaro could spit on my face and I would still laugh, and then probably ask her to do it again.
What is your pre-show ritual?
My pre-show ritual is downing a sugar-free Red Bull (I KNOW ITS SO BAD FOR ME I KNOWWWWWW) and listening to Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” on max volume on repeat. Don’t @ me.
What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?
In 2018, my troupe Not Oasis had the opportunity to headline Seattle Sketch Comedy Festival and in the short time that we were there, I fell head over heels in love with that city. The ocean, the coffee, the clam chowder from a random stall in Pike Place market that I still basically dream about every night… I loved it all. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?
This is predictable, but podcasts! “Comedy Bang Bang” is a staple, and I also like “Good One” and “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes.”
Do you have anything to promote right now?
Oh, do I? The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival is just around the corner, and I’m very lucky to be a part of two exciting sketch shows this year! Firstly, my troupe Not Oasis is performing at the Theatre Centre March 6 and March 7. Secondly, my show “Dead Parents Society,” directed by Canadian Comedy Award-winning director Kirsten Rasmussen is a dark sketch comedy revue about grief and is part of the Featured Series at the festival this year! We had a critically acclaimed sold-out run in November 2019, and are thrilled to be back with our #TOSketchFest20 remount! You have 3 chances to see this show at the Streetcar Crowsnest theatre on March 12, 13, and 14 – get your tickets here: https://www.torontosketchfest.com/tscf-troupes/dead-parents-society/
Where can we follow you?
I’m on instagram @soleahm – follow me for High Definition cat content.
PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?
This is the hardest question, but I will say – I get excited any time I see the name Devon Henderson in a cast, whether it be improv or sketch. She is brilliant and makes me laugh unlike any other, I just love her brain. She and her writing partner Jackie Twomey are TwoSon, one of the funniest sketch duos in the city (check them out at SketchFest too – March 5 & March 7 at Theatre Centre). Bonus: Jackie is also part of our Dead Parents Society show, and was named one of the breakthrough Toronto stage artists of 2019 by Glenn Sumi (NOW Magazine) for her performance! Comedy power couples, am I right?
Tell us a joke.
Wow who are you, my family after I first told them I wanted to do comedy?
Catch Shohana Sharmin at TOsketchfest.