by Carol A. Allen
In the heart of downtown Toronto's Entertainment District, the last Sunday night of the month at Yuk Yuk's has been the home to the Nubian Disciples of Pryor All-Black Comedy Revue, a popular stomping ground for young, entertaining Black comedians.
The event, founded over 12 years ago by Host, Actor and Comedian, Kenny Robinson, continues to be one of the most popular outings in the city's entertainment scene. It has given many comedians a platform to hone their talents and create an outlet to express themselves in front of a diverse audience.
The Nubian Disciples of Pryor, a name given to the comedians who have performed at the revue, is a dedication to the late Richard Pryor, one of Robinson's major comedic influences. Pryor was well known for his take on racism, issues affecting the Black community and his use of colourful language. He is said to have influenced other internationally known comedians such as Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy. Pryor died of cardiac arrest in December, 2005 at the age of 65.
Robinson, who turned 50 in early January, has been active on the North American comedy circuit since moving from his native Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Toronto in 1983. He has spent half of his life in an industry where many entertainers struggle to survive and get noticed and continues to promote opportunities for new and established comedians of colour.
Aside from creating the highly successful Nubian Disciples night, his other major accomplishments include: After Hours with Kenny Robinson on the Comedy Network, which he created, wrote and hosted; Gemini-award nominated, Thick and Thin which he created and co-produced, plus he has done several series, television movies and a variety of comedy festivals
Yuk Yuk's is Canada's largest chain of comedy clubs. Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey and Russell Peters, who recently moved to Hollywood to develop a sit-com, are just a few successful Canadian-born comedians that have graced Yuk Yuk’s stages and continue to expose and influence Toronto’s talent.
Playwright, Producer and Actress, Trey Anthony, who often portrayed one of her Jamaican characters on stage at the revue, used that character as the lead role in her stage play, 'Da Kink in My Hair.' Launched at Toronto's Fringe Festival in 2001, it went on to sell out at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre and became the first Canadian play shown at the historic Princess of Wales Theatre. It’s been adapted for television as a weekly series now airing on Global Television.
Mark Trinidad, who was the first Canadian Comedian to perform on BET's Comic View in 2003 and Jean Paul, whose career began as a Nubian Disciple, have been featured on the Nubian stage on many occasions. Both draw on their Trinidadian culture in their routines. Ugandan-born Arthur Simeon is a regular performer who often jokes about his African roots.
The revue has attracted many American-based comedians and celebrities. And, with a line-up of some of the funniest people in the business, be prepared for an evening of guaranteed laughter.
For more information on the event, visit: http://www.yukyuks.com/.