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Comedy festival whipping up a batch of hilarity

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This spring’s version of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival is a recipe for hilarity.

No, seriously. The 2013 edition of the annual local laugh-fest — the event’s 13th year, and its 12th as part of CBC-TV’s schedule — has adopted a "Baker’s Dozen" theme, meaning this year’s lineup will be filled with foodie puns, ingredient-list asides, assessments of punchline done-ness and jokes that are more concerned with being tasty than tasteful.

"‘Perfectly baked’ is our hilarious tag line," artistic director Al Rae offered, launching into a string of culinary puns that seemed to number more than a dozen. "You know, not just ‘baked,’ but ‘baked.’ I think you know what I mean. ... It’s good, solid comedy batter from which you can make many delicious things."

The 2013 Winnipeg Comedy Festival runs April 8-14 at various city venues. The full schedule will be unveiled today at a launch event at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre; tickets for all shows are on sale at Ticketmaster.

Rae said the focus of this year’s festival is on top-quality standup comedy, with such popular acts as John Wing, Sean Cullen, Debra DiGiovanni, Jonny Harris, Derek Seguin, Ron Josol, Rob Pue and Steve Patterson leading the lineup.

Festival newcomers include rising stars Mark Forward (Mr. D), Pat Thornton, Dave Merheje and Emma Hunter. Also new to the fest is the Met; the newly refurbished venue will play host to tapings of CBC Radio’s The Debaters and the always-popular blue-hued and no-holds-barred Dark and Stormy Show.

The festival’s Friday-night galas (April 12) will be offered as a single two-for-one ticket — the first show, a regional comedy showcase, will be hosted by Patterson and features a cross-Canada roster that includes Charlie Demers, Trent McClennan, Seguin, Martha Chaves, Harris and Rae; the second show, Parent Trap, is hosted by Cullen and features Kate Davis, David Pryde, Erica Sigurdson, Kelly Taylor and impressionist Emma Hunter.

Saturday’s (April 13) pair of galas (sold separately) includes High School Confidential, hosted by multi-talented performer Jonathan Torrens and starring Merheje, Forward, Josol, Thornton, Darcy Michael and Kathleen McGee, and Mars and Venus, hosted by DiGiovanni and featuring Pue, Kristeen von Hagen, Michelle Shaughnessy, Deb Kimmett, Chuck Byrn and Michael Gelbart.

Rae said the festival has eliminated its Thursday-night gala this year, opting to try an experiment that will see comedian Jon Dore take his act on the road — literally — moving between venues with a camera crew in tow. The result of his wandering, which will include a gala-show performance, will become a stand-alone show that will air on CBC with gala showcases from the fest.

Wing, the only performer to appear at every Winnipeg Comedy Festival, will host this year’s edition of Gastrocomique, a big-ticket event that combines food with funny at Fusion Grill.

CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera will once again tape a show in Winnipeg, this time with host Sook-Yin Lee exploring the topic of parenting. Rae also said this year’s version of The Winnipeg Show will be recorded for broadcast on CBC Radio’s Laugh Out Loud with Craig Norris. Among the local comics who will get national exposure are Paul Rabliauskas, Dan Verville and Andrew Lizotte.

Kids in the Hall alumnus Kevin McDonald will again host his movie showcase, Kevin Fest, at Cinematheque, and Rumor’s Comedy Club will feature full-length shows by several fest performers.

Full festival details are available at

Twitter: @BradOswald

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