Fanshawe alumnus making his way to the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

Credit: PROVIDED BY DAMIEN NELSON
Fanshawe alumnus, Austen Alexander (right) is making waves in the comedy world and will be participating in this year's Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival with Will French (left).

In the past few years things have really taken off for Fanshawe alumnus, actor/comedian Austen Alexander, creating Eggs Comedy on YouTube and funnyordie.com and headlining a monthly comedy show.

On March 4th and 7th you can see him at the 13th annual Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (TOsketchfest), performing his highlight act, Dirtbag Cousin, with stand-up comic partner Will French.

In an exclusive interview Alexander spoke with the Interrobang to give his backstory.

“At Fanshawe I learned how to film through the [television] broadcasting [program]. I always wanted to make sketches, [] I liked being funny and I wanted to get that out, but I didn't know how to write it. [Next] I took a two-year comedy program at Humber. I made Eggs [Comedy]; made all of the logos [and] the graphics. [Then] I started doing live sketches and some standup,” Alexander said.

One of his sketch series that has gained traction, having spawned three sequels, is called Neighbours. “It is an interesting series because [the sketches are] improvised [and the] characters [come] from the comedy community in Toronto,” Alexander said.

In improvisation performers have a general role, not a script and will improvise that role.

Alexander explained what inspired him to develop his comedic style and the type of performer he sees himself to be.

“I loved Keene and Peele; they're just phenomes to me. In terms of sketch they're hands down probably the best sketch troupe. I consider myself a comedian, kind of like a James Franco or Seth Rogan, like [I'll] be funny and create [my] own stuff, and also have serious roles,” Alexander said.

He also detailed some of his most current work.

“I was recently in a Discovery Channel television show called Bizarre Murder (airing 2019). I got to play a re-enactment as a murder/serial killer. It was a lot of fun. I liked jumping from serious to comedy, but comedy is definitely my go-to. I act full time; I do auditions during the week, and I've been in a lot of commercials: CIBC, Hershey's, Under Armour and Starbucks. It was a pretty good year last year,” Alexander said. There're a variety of characters in Alexander's comedic repertoire that can be seen online; seeing his show live however, the audience is guaranteed to get something different each time. One of Alexander's favorite characters is featured in Dirtbag Cousin.

“My favorite character to do is this guy called Kareem and he's the most positive [person with] a Scarborough accent. He's like, ‘Yo that's jokes yo, that's so much fun yo'. He's this character that's taking on this persona of someone who's usually very negative or intimidating and he's just doing it in the most positive way possible; he just wants the best for everyone. [] Every sketch has different characters; from these British cockney guys discussing soup, to this Albertan and Texan who get angry with each other because they think they're so different, but literally keep saying the same things,” Alexander said.

He described how his lax techniques for cultivating the various character ideas come from an organic place.

“[My friends and I] just get together and we don't stress on figuring something out, we just hangout. When a comedian hangs with their friends they'll write down whatever funny thing just happened. You'll do a character, not knowing you're doing a bit, what a lot of people call an inside joke. [I] took that and [I] made these characters. A lot of humour is based on reality,” Alexander said.

Dirtbag Cousin has started the only monthly, (strictly) duo show in Toronto, at Comedy Bar Cabaret, located at 945 Bloor St.W. See them there during the Sketch Fest March 4th and 7th at 7:30pm. General admission tickets for the show are $16 or $90 for a festival pass can be purchased at torontosketchfest.com. You can also follow Eggs Comedy and Dirtbag Cousin on Facebook and Instagram.