Tragedy Plus Time: Toronto Comedian Sam Burns

Sam Burns got his love for comedy from his dad and their Friday nights at Blockbuster renting comedies. His interest in stand-up came much later. He’d now describe his style as stupid and loose while bringing touches of honesty that hit truth to make people laugh. We caught up with Sam to learn more.

Sam Burns

How would you describe your comedy style?

Stupid and loose pretty much sums it up.

Who are some of your influences?

I’d have to say, Jim Carrey. He’s still one of my all-time favourites. About once a week I’ll YouTube a scene from one of his movies and still laugh as hard as when I was 7 seeing it for the first time.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

Until I was a senior in high school, I had no interest in stand-up. I connected with comedic actors. My introduction to humour came from my dad. He took me to Blockbuster every Friday where we would rent a bunch of old comedies. I can remember telling my buddies the synopsis of “Blues Brothers” when I first arrived back at school on Monday. I was a rowdy 10-year-old boy when the 2000’s comedy boom hit. I’d watch Dodge Ball, Wedding Crashers, Anchorman, and so forth. My childhood heroes were Will Ferrel, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller all those guys.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

At the moment, I think Shane Gillis and Nathan Macintosh. Though I never got the chance to meet Nathan—who departed Toronto just as I was getting started—I have always respected his enthusiasm and intensity on any given topic. I enjoy the YouTube specials that he has released. Shane Gillis is currently the most popular comic in the world so not an original take here. He reminds me of the folks I spent my childhood with Barrie. He is incredibly skilled at discussing “tough” or “offensive” subjects in a way that isn’t offensive. That is something I haven’t seen in a long time.

What is your pre-show ritual?

I love walking to the gig and running through my act. Tagging it with a new line, changing the order, coming up with a new joke while on my walk and being like “I can’t wait to try that”.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

I love performing at The Corner Comedy Club. I’ve gotten super comfortable with that space. Being a great comedian is about being comfortable on stage. I love trying out new ideas at The Corner because their clientele are comedy fans/ nerds and are open minded and understand that you’re seeing if the bit works.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

I wrote a joke about how I feel bad complaining about job (working at a grocery store) to my mom who is a burn nurse for 20 years. “Work was terrible, I was supposed to go on break at 12 but it got moved to 12:45 and I was hungry! My mom would say “Oh that sounds hard, today I had to keep people alive” I was a young comic so most of my material was pointing the finger at other people. This was the first joke I wrote where I didn’t look like the hero and showed a real honest side to me. That was the first joke that clicked and felt like I was talking about something honest.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

Probably Youtube.

Tell us a joke about your city.

I don’t have one! Well, I had this joke that I only did a couple of times. “I saw a couple arguing in public while riding a tandem bike. I don’t know why but that’s the most Toronto thing I’ve ever seen.” That’s it! Might bring the joke back, probably won’t.

Do you have anything to promote right now?

My second comedy album is almost finished! Stream my first album “Bing Bing” on all streaming platforms and check out the Podcast I do with my friend Kyle Patan “Battle of the Bands with Kyle and Sam” We make crass jokes and talk about bands/artists we enjoy.

Where can we follow you? 

Instagram | TikTok

PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

There are so many! Kyle Patan is amazing. He’s so quick and charming and a great joke writer. He will probably take offence to something I said in here. Callum O’Neil is another great comic. I saw him when he first started and he was immediately one of my favorites. Rebecca Reeds is also an amazing talent. She can kill in any room, any town, any audience.