The Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians is on Parliament Hill this week lobbying for formal recognition as artists, government funding, and help making a smoother entry into the United States when working on shows.
This is not a laughing matter because, right now, comedians aren’t eligible for government funding through the Canada Council for the Arts’ six granting programs. In 2015-2016, the council provided $144.8 million in grants to Canadian artists.
Sandra Battaglini, a stand-up comedian and actress, is one of the key forces behind the association, which opened its doors in 2017 to push for change. She said the council’s definition of comedy is far too restrictive, as it only includes comedic theatre artists as eligible recipients.
“To me, stand-up is the most immediate theatre there is. It reveals or tells a story about Canadian culture and identity in a real-time, intimate way, sometimes more than other art forms.”
She said the reality of comedy in this country is that many of her colleagues have to head south of the border to find more and better-paying gigs. And that’s no joke.