Each year we are so excited and proud to announce the festival lineup, and in 2023 we will mark a new tradition of also revealing the festival jury in an act of transparency and celebration.
The 2023 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival jury included Matt Keevins (stage manager), Denise B Mcleod (comedian), Surer Qaly (comedian), Zoe Rabnett (Director of Talent & Comedy Development, Counterfeit Pictures), and Sharjil Rasool (comedian). These awesome and bonafide jury members watched over 110 festival submissions to help select the lineup through recommendations and thoughtful group discussions.
Matt is a stage manager, with many years experience stage managing improv and sketch comedy around the GTA. He is a graduate of the Humber Comedy writing and performance program and has worked as a theatre tech at Comedy Bar, in The Second City Training Centre. He is currently stage managing The Second City Toronto’s 87th mainstage revue. Matt is honoured to have been selected as a juror to help curate the 2023 Toronto Sketch Festival!
Denise B McLeod
Proud Urban Anishinaabe Kwe, who’s home territory is Sagamok Anishnawbek F.N located on the north shore of Lake Huron. D.B., along with her comedy sisters, founded Manifest Destiny’s Child Comedy Collective in 2017. While with MDC she has taken the stage for events like the Toronto International Film Festival, Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live, and Art Gallery of Ontario’s First Thursday. Denise was also invited to be in comedy shows like Mirchi Comedy 4th Birthday celebration that was a part of Comedy is Art Festival. D.B’s comedy is rooted in her Indigeneity, focuses on making fun of colonization, misogyny and racism, just enough to make white men uncomfortable. D.B. has graced the cover of the NOW magazine’s 2021 Love Your Body issue, beyond her love of comedy D.B. has a new found passion of Burlesque and has performed at the Nogojiwanong Indigenous Fringe Festival, Toronto Indigenous Arts Festival, Pride Toronto and the 34th annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance.
Surer is a writer, and comic based in Toronto. She’s performed at TOSketchFest, Lady Fest, and JFL42, and her writing resume includes Virgins! The Series, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. She might get a pet cat this year, fingers crossed.
Zoe knows and loves Canadian comedy. Prior to Counterfeit, in her position as Director of Canadian & International Programming at Just For Laughs, Zoe was responsible for finding and booking the best comedy talents from across Canada and from around the world, scouting year round and programming festivals, tours, and TV productions. She has been a producer on the Counterfeit / Just For Laughs co-productions of Roast Battle Canada (CTV Comedy), Comedy Night with Rick Mercer (CBC), and several stand up specials for Crave, as well as on many years worth of Just For Laughs productions including the televised Montreal Galas (CTV Comedy, CBC, the CW), The Stand Up Show (CTV Comedy), a long list of Crave stand up specials, and 25+ audio albums under the Just For Laughs Originals label. Zoe’s passion and enthusiasm for Canadian comedy is her focus as she seeks out unique and funny voices to collaborate with. And yes, you’re right, she sure claims to know a lot about comedy for someone whose bio contains zero jokes.
Sharjil is a comedian, actor and writer. He is an alumni of The Second City Toronto Mainstage and was featured in JFL42’s New Faces. You can catch him as Nikhil in Run the Burbs (CBC) and the voice of Ajit in Bakugan (Cartoon Network). Other television credits include What We Do in the Shadows (FX), Baroness von Sketch Show (CBC/IFC) and Abroad (OMNI TV). He’d really love it if you followed him on Twitter (@sharjilrasool) and Instagram (@sharjilr).
The jury for the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival can include alumni of the Festival, and/or those who have lived experience and a deep knowledge of the comedy community. The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival will revisit its programming principles and jurying process each year to reflect the needs of the community. TOSketchFest will actively seek to find qualified jurors with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.
The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival thanks all those who have served on the jury for the past 18 years.