A national standup comedy tour is slated to touch down at the 101 Brewhouse in Gibsons, where three comedians with diverse backgrounds will skewer stultified notions of Canada’s cultural mosaic.
They’re Going Places features prolific comedians Abbas Wahab, Moe Ismail, and Jesse Singh. The threesome began their tour on Nov. 4 in St John’s, Newfoundland and plan to visit more than a dozen Canadian cities over the next three months.
“Gibsons is supposed to have a population that really comes out and supports touring acts,” said Wahab. “You talk to other comedians who have done the beaten path. A couple of my friends toured through the West Coast area. They made it through Gibsons and they said it’s an absolute must-stop destination.”
Wahab, who was born in Sudan, has been a staple of the Toronto comedy scene for nearly a decade. He recently released his comedy special and album Safe Black, is a regular on CBC’s The Debaters, and just returned from the 2022 Winnipeg Comedy Festival. Before that, though, Wahab said his journey followed a path common to many immigrants.
“First I had to get the obligatory engineering degree,” he said. “I had to check that immigrant box off and I did that for some years. It was never really for me but my mindset was that I had to do it.” After a comedian urged him to consider acting, Wahab decided it was time to leave the field of nanotechnology for bigger rewards.
“I didn’t want to get another visa, so I moved to Toronto and began to pursue comedy full-time,” he said.
During the COVID-19 slowdown, Wahab developed a following on the TikTok social platform that now exceeds 150,000 followers.
Wahab also launched a weekly podcast called The Immigrant Section that showcases rising talent from the Toronto area.
His podcast title stems from Wahab’s high school experience. Students used the thoughtless name to refer to a part of the campus where non-white pupils gathered.
“I get a listenership from well over 50 countries and people really love it,” Wahab said. “They dig it. The immigration angle seems very fresh and ripe in a lot of people’s minds. I have people on [the podcast] who are third-generation Canadians with amazing stories that have been passed down.”
Wahab will be joined by two other comedians with professional backgrounds in different fields.
Moe Ismail is a Toronto-based performer and producer who recently released his debut standup album Homeroom Habibi about his experiences as an Egyptian immigrant growing up in Canada, and becoming a school teacher.
Jesse Singh, a social worker with Punjabi heritage, was featured in the Just For Laughs comedy festival and was a semifinalist in New York’s Devil Cup Comedy Festival.
“We all have a very different take,” said Wahab. “Together we make a 90-minute show that’s done well all over the country. Sometimes you leave a show and you just remember you laughed, you liked it. But then sometimes you leave a show and you remember topics that were talked about. I want to make you laugh and talk about stuff that needs to be talked about.”
They’re Going Places plays at the 101 Brewhouse on Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online.