Fundraiser draws calls to sever Humber comedy program from club

Feb 1, 2024 | Campus News, Canadian News, News

A controversial comedy show at Toronto comedy club Yuk Yuk’s drew attention to its partnership with the Humber College Comedy Program.

As part of the partnership, comedy students perform weekly on Tuesday evenings to gain experience in a professional public environment.

However, a performance on Wednesday night was the centre of controversy when Yuk Yuk’s hosted a show called Stand Up For Israel, a fundraiser for the American non-profit Friends of The Israeli Defence Force.

In protest of the fundraiser, Jewish Anti-Zionist Collective Toronto and Students for Queer Liberation Tkaronto issued statements on social media calling for the cancellation of the show and for Humber Comedy to boycott the venue.

Yuk Yuk’s website calendar shows listings for the Humber College showcase every Tuesday except for Jan. 30, the night before the Stand Up For Israel show.

Humber College told Humber News the institution doesn’t have any ties with the show.

“Humber College has no affiliation or involvement with the ‘Stand Up for Israel’ show scheduled for Jan. 31 at Yuk Yuk’s,” the college said.

Humber College declined to comment on whether its students performed that night or if they cancelled due to the controversy.

Yuk Yuk’s founder and CEO was a founding member of the Humber Comedy program. Mark Breslin was chosen as the Artistic Director in 1998 before the program’s launch in 1999 and currently sits as advisory board chairman and producer in residence.

He founded Yuk Yuk’s in 1976, which grew into Canada’s largest chain of comedy clubs.

Breslin previously drew controversy for his decision to book comedian Louis C.K., whom several women accused of sexual harassment. He also wrote an article titled “Why I brought Louis C.K. back from the dead.

Yuk Yuk’s declined Humber News requests for comment.

Toronto Police formed a line to allow customers to enter the Richmond Street West club near University Avenue. Protesters were also at the back of the club chanting against comedians entering the club.

Jewish Anti-Zionist Collective Toronto and Students for Queer Liberation Tkaronto’s protest drew several dozen protesters who lined the narrow sidewalk in front of the downtown club.

The protest was from 5:45 p.m., until around 9:30 p.m., with chants condemning the “Genocide in Gaza,” the support of the club, fans who attended the show and the actions of the Canadian government.

Humber comedy course alumna Mia Van Wyck-Smart said she was disappointed but not surprised about Yuk Yuk’s hosting the controversial fundraiser.

“It was so upsetting to see everyone walk in to support this show,” said Van Wyck-Smart. “I think they [Humber] should find a different bar for their weekly show.”