TOsketchfest caught up with TOsketchfest alum and Sketch Comedy Project Fund recipient Shohana Sharmin Sicilia.
How did you get started? When did you realize you were funny?
I got started in comedy the same way all the greats do – I got dumped, so I signed up for an improv class. As far as impulsive (read: unhinged) decisions go, this one turned out pretty great!
I’m not sure I ever realized I was funny per se, but I did realize very early on that I liked making people laugh. My happiest memories as a kid are of rolling around the floor with my brother laughing till we cried at some absolute nonsense, and I wish I hadn’t waited till I got dumped at age 24 to tap into the thing that made my inner child so happy.
What’s your favourite TOsketchfest memory?
My favourite TOsketchfest memory is… all of them? No, really, all of it. I feel beyond grateful to have been a part of TOsketchfest with my sketch family Not Oasis (and later with my other dark sketch family Dead Parents Society), and every festival we got to be a part of truly meant the world to me. With that said, perhaps the most unintentionally memorable show I ever got to perform at TOsketchfest was doing Dead Parents Society at Crow’s Theatre on March 14, 2020 when COVID was knocking at our collective doorstep.
How did the Sketch Comedy Project Fund help your project?
It takes a village to produce a sketch show, and it certainly helps to have some grant money along the way too. In 2019, I produced my first independent sketch revue “Dead Parents Society,” a dark sketch comedy about grief, with help from the Sketch Comedy Project Fund (a partnership between TOsketchfest and the Pat & Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts). Since then, the show has had two critically acclaimed sold-out runs, winning the Audience Choice Award at the 2020 TOsketchfest, and is now making a comeback as part of the 2023 Next Stage Theatre Festival this October. I am grateful to have had the support of the fund to help accomplish all this, and I look forward to seeing it uplift more marginalized voices in comedy in the years to come.
Favourite local comedian?
I have to mention my Scorpio sibling and comedy royalty Ajahnis Charley. Anything and everything they do is brilliant, and they truly do it all – stand up, improv, sketch, theatre, film making, TV writing – they are multifaceted and full of surprises and so so so gosh darn funny. You should follow them now so that in ten years when they own all of Hollywood, you can say you knew them back when they were just a wee lil’ JFL New Face.
Anything you want us to plug?
Oh I thought you’d never ask! After two critically-acclaimed sold-out runs, one Audience Choice Award at the 2020 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, (and a oopsie daisy 3-year hiatus thanks to the pandemmy), my dark sketch comedy revue “Dead Parents Society” returns this fall to the 2023 Next Stage Theatre Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. I am thrilled to bring this show back, and the timing feels more apt than ever before in our grief-covered post-2020 world. You can find out more about the show and get tickets at: https://fringetoronto.com/next-stage/show/dead-parents-society-dark-sketch-comedy-revue
Hope to see you there!
Shohana Sharmin Sicilia (she/her) is a Bangladeshi-born comedian, writer, and theatre artist. Shohana is a proud Muslim queer woman of colour, and is a current cast member of the Second City Toronto’s National Touring Company. She is a recipient of the 2020 Queer Emerging Artist Award at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Shohana is the creator and a cast member of the critically acclaimed award-winning dark sketch comedy revue “Dead Parents Society.” She is a member of Buddies in Bad Times theatre’s 2019 Emerging Creators Unit, Nightwood Theatre’s 2019 Young Innovators program, and b current Theatre’s 2019 bcHub Emerging Artists cohort. In November 2019, Shohana was selected to join a Writers’ Room with Ins Choi (Kim’s Convenience) as part of the Regent Park Film Festival. She presented her first solo show “Come Here Often?” (directed by Carly Heffernan) in October 2022. Her personal essays have been published by CBC First Person, The Vault magazine, Broadview magazine, and Living Hyphen magazine. She is also the creator and host of the podcast “Finders Grievers.” She is an alumna of the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre Featured Players, and of the Second City’s Improv and Longform Conservatories. Shohana has performed in comedy and theatre festivals across North America with her award-winning troupe Not Oasis (2017 The Toronto Fringe Patrons Pick, NOW Critic’s Pick). She wishes she could be more like her mother.
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