#TBT - My Article from 2008!

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I wrote this article for York University's newspaper as a feature. I found out about this event called NSFW at the Rivoli. It was unique, hilarious, cheap and tons of fun, kind of like Tosh.O way back then.
It was hosted by Jared Sales(@JaredSales) and Tal Zimmerman who recently came out with "Why Horror?"which screened at Toronto After Dark last year.

In my opinion this is probably one of the best articles I wrote for the newspaper. I had the time to patiently write it and I really loved the show. And then the copy editor or the features editor butchered it with the most ridiculous headline, something about Shatner and chocolate. You guys are better off not knowing.

Rivoli still has alot of great comedy and music events all week and best of all they are mostly pay what you can.

Excalibur, York University 13-10-2008

Not Safe for Work: a hidden gem in Toronto’s Comic Scene
There I sat, in a dimly lit room at the back of a bar downtown, hoping the one friend I had managed to accompany me would find the following show as good as I had claimed it to be. As the room slowly filled with people, my friend and I munched on popcorn served for all to add to the laid back feel of the event. The hosts finally walked on stage to kick things off. The show is called Not Safe for Work - location the Rivoli Bar on Queen West.

One of the most unique comedy shows in Toronto hosts Jared Sales and Tal Zimmerman, present viral videos from around the net which get picked apart one-by-one them along with two guest panellists. Confusing as it might sound to some, it is a lot more straight-forward. The event is held every last Tuesday of the month and has featured several guest panellists from the entertainment industry. On this specific show, the guest panel included Trevor Boris and Pat Kelly. Boris is well known for his work on Much Music’s “Video on Trial” which he also produces. Pat Kelly is the co-star of the “Good Morning World” a mock morning TV show on the Comedy Network and is also well known for his work creating comedic shorts and viral videos. With one panellist known for making viral videos and the other for ripping on them, it promised to be an entertaining affair and I was not let down. Considering the show is “pay what you can”, the show is an amazing for students looking for an affordable night of entertainment.

Over the next hour the audience was treated to videos from YouTube and other sites around the internet. From William Shatner reminiscing about his encounter with Koko the gorilla, several hilarious news reel bloopers, C-Span crank calls to the 80’s Calgary Flames lip-synching in unison to “You cant touch a flame when its red hot”, the videos presented were a treat to watch. If that wasn’t enough by itself the accompanying commentary by the four comedians onstage was a treat for the audience. It is quite simply watching these videos with your friends on your computer taken into a bar where you can kick back and enjoy.

Guests in past shows include Alan Park (Royal Canadian Air Farce) Richard Crouse (Reel to Real) Fraser Young (Video on Trial), Debra Di Giovanni (Video on Trial), and Mark Hickox (Rent-a-Goalie). Even Jerry O’Connell and Jerry Minor, past member of SNL, have dropped in via webcam to talk about their video spoofing a Tom Cruise interview.

The hosts of NSFW, Jared Sales and Tal Zimmerman, are both quite well known in the comedy circuit around the city. Jared is a filmmaker and comedian who began doing stand up in 2003 and became well known for integrating multimedia into his performances. His videos stood 1st and 2nd in FunnyorDie.com’s, Funniest Video in Canada contest in 2007. Tal Zimmerman is an actor and comedian who is also a York University Alumnus. Tal and Jared met while on the Sketchersons, a local sketch comedy troupe who won the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Sketch Troupe last year.

“We have been doing NSFW for a year and a half now” said Jared. “We started doing it just for our friends, and then we thought why not make a show out of it for people”. Both of them pitched the idea to Zoe Randall, the show’s producer, who came on board. So what is NSFW? “It’s basically America’s funniest home videos for the YouTube generation,’ said Tal Zimmerman, ‘with live commentary of the videos and different guests each time. It’s basically what makes us laugh, according to them and they have to sometimes explain the context of the video for people to understand the jokes.

They are obviously helped by the huge amount of material that is available online on sites such as YouTube, Break.com, and FunnyorDie.com to name just a few. It is really unbelievable that when a lot of things shown in these videos happen that somebody was there with a camera to record it, said Tal. He pointed out how most of these videos are uploaded on the internet by people to show to their friends and then in a few days they become so popular.

In fact a lot these videos have the same qualities as any other reality shows on TV. A lot of them show people doing pretty stupid stuff much like reality TV and there is usually a fad factor to their popularity. But this hasn’t gone unnoticed by many by many TV Networks and corporations. More often than not these videos have been viewed by an audience a few times over the network audiences during Prime time shows. This has made quite a few people famous overnight and Networks have noticed. Tay Zonday uploaded his own songs on YouTube until one of them, the now infamous “Chocolate Rain” gained views from all over the world. With its current view count on YouTube pas 29 million, Zonday already has secured a sponsorship deal with Cherry Dr. Pepper in the U.S and has even performed the song on various shows on TV. Clearly corporations have taken notice and want free publicity tied to videos which have gone viral.

So after all this what are the future plans for NSFW? While both Jared and Tal are busy with the Sketchersons and their show Sunday Night Live at the Rivoli which is basically a show with the same format as the famous Saturday Night Live. They have been approached by a few online content producers to bring their material together.

Watch out for their Monday and Tuesday night shows at the Rivoli. The good news for York Students especially is that Jared and Tal have been kind enough to offer us free admission to their shows. With the several shows I have seen in city, Not Safe for Work is indeed a hidden gem in the Toronto’s comedy scene.



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