TOsketchfest is pleased to publicly acknowledge the contributions of our 2024 live festival Programming Committee. We’re so thankful for the contributions of Kris Siddiqi, Mona Hersi, Rena Taylor, Vance Banzo, and Naomi Snieckus. These awesome programming committee members watched over 130 festival submissions to help select the lineup through recommendations and thoughtful group discussions.
Former teacher and ex-banker, Mona Hersi is a layered multi-hyphenate writer-producer-director-sketch comedian. She draws on her intersectional experiences of being a first generation Somali-Canadian born and bred in Toronto to fuel her writing. Her unique POV and often optimistic tongue-in-cheek observations have contributed to TV writer’s rooms and staged productions across Toronto. She is a recent alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre’s Bell Media Prime Time TV program’s first ever comedy cohort. Her recent credits include writing for The Next Step (CBBC/Corus), comedy series Abroad (OMNI TV), various series in development, and is ¼ of the darling sketch troupe the Don Valley Girls. As a producer, Mona has received funding for two different scripted comedy shows she has in development from Ontario Creates, IPF, CMF, Bell Development Slate Fund and TO Sketchfest! Mona’s next steps are to further develop her 2 original half hour comedies, be staffed in more writer’s rooms in production, and to ultimately make a decent living as a multi-hyphenate creative with the financial security acceptable by her immigrant mother.
Rena Taylor is a local Toronto performer, writer and straight-up word prankster. A producer gone rogue, she has jumped between the curtains to produce and perform in festivals, including Toronto and Montreal Sketchfest, Just for Laughs, OFF-JFL, Pop Montreal, Philly Sketchfest, Ladyfest MTL and was the Festival Director for the new Ladyfest TOR. She presently performs stand-up as well as sketch with her duo ‘Joy Provision’ and local troupe ‘Little Funny Plays’.
An alumni of the Second City Theatre in Toronto, some of Naomi’s TV/Film credits include: CBC’s comedy, ‘Mr.D’, Designated Survivor, Pretty Hard Cases, Carter, Disney Zombies, Popularity Papers (BBC), Work It and (upcoming) The Madness on Netflix and Murdoch Mysteries. Two time ACTRA nominated, four time CSA nominated and CCA winner. Cartoons: ‘Franklin the Turtle’, ‘Thomas the Tank Engine, Building Brothers, Open Season and Disney Zombies. She co-created: ‘Doing it With Brian and Darla’ and ‘The Casting Room’ on CBC (LA WebFest and CCA winner). Winner of the CCA Award for Best Female Improviser and founding member of the five-time CCA winning ‘The National Theatre of the World where shows like: Impromptu Splendor, The Carnegie Hall Show and the internationally recognized format of The Script Tease Project. Naomi is a corporate communications facilitator and has worked with such companies as: Manulife, Deloitte, Kraft, TD Bank, RBC, Scotia Bank, Ford Auto and more. A producer/ founder of the podcast and community Firecracker Department where she interview women and non-binary artists and supports creative action in their communities. Naomi appears as a guest host on The Social on CTV. Naomi and her partner Matt Baram tour internationally with their company The National Theatre of the World. @snieckus @firecrackerdept @baramsnieckus @the_ntow
Kris Siddiqi is a comedian, actor and writer from Toronto! Recipient of the 2015 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Improviser and the 2014 “Best Of” Now Magazine Awards. Kris studied with the world renowned Second City, joined the Mainstage cast in 2009 and wrote 3 revues with them. From there he went to voice work, becoming the Network Voice of Country Music Television, principal roles on many cartoons and a series regular on the Comedy Panel Show on CBC Because News.
His multi-award winning miniseries BIT PLAYAS was conceived and originated by Kris, and would go on to win 2 Canadian Screen Awards for Best Writing and Best Series, Best Representation of Communities Of Color from the Minnesota WebFest 2020, Best Actor in the Toronto WebFest awards, as well as multiple other awards from festivals all over the world.
Kris’ recent film & tv credits include Netflix’s I WOKE UP A VAMPIRE, HBOMax’s TITANS, Aaron Sorkin’s MOLLY’S GAME, Amazon’s THE BOYS, AppleTV’s THE CHANGELING and a recurring face on IFC/CBC’s BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW.
Kris is also the sound editor, sound designer and main character for his fantasy radio-drama DWARVEN MOSS, which recently won Best Leisure Podcast from the Canadian Podcast Awards.
Vance Banzo is a Saulteaux/Cree comedian, actor, and writer born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Currently residing in Toronto, Ontario, Vance is a proud member of award-winning sketch comedy troupe and Series, TALLBOYZ. The second season of the series received three 2022 CSA awards, winning in all categories. The third season recently received four 2023 CSA nominations. In addition to writing and starring in the series, he was also a contributing director in the third season. As a comedian he has performed on many stages across the country, including Just For Laughs Toronto and the Gchi Dewin Indigenous Storytelling Festival.
The programming committee for the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival typically includes 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 process each year to reflect the needs of the community. TOsketchfest will actively seek to find qualified individuals with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.
The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival thanks all those who have served on the programming committee for the past 19 years.