Heidi Brander
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Heidi Brander

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"Island Briefly - Interview with Canadian Comedy Award Nominee Heidi Brander"

Island Briefly

How long have you been doing stand-up comedy?
2 years-ish.

Who have been/still are your comedy idols?
My comedy idols are Tina Fey and Fozzie Bear.

Did you ever think you’d be nominated for an award for your comedy? What are your thoughts on being nominated and getting national recognition?
I’ve been working my butt off as a writer for years, so I’ve always considered that my “bread & butter.” I’ve never really fancied myself a performer, so getting recognition for performing is super crazy. But I’ve given up a lot of hot dates and hotter naps to write & perform comedy…I’ve worked really hard, and you don’t do that without hoping one day you’ll get recognized for it.

Are you familiar with the work of your fellow nominees?
As familiar as Tonya Harding was with Nancy Kerrigan’s work when she hired that thug guy to whack her knee before the Olympics. (Foreshadowing?)

How did it feel to perform stand-up back on Island soil? Do you think you’ll ever move back to PEI for good?
It felt great! I was really nervous about how some of my edgier material was going to go over, but once my parents declined the invite my nerves magically disappeared. PEI audiences are awesome in general, whether it’s music, comedy, or theatre, so I’d love to see more stand-up happening here! I’d love to move back to PEI one day, but my nephew is in Toronto right now and proximity to his cuteness dictates where I live.

What advice to do you have for Island comedians hoping to make it big?
Do everything yourself! Produce your own shows, make Youtube videos, tweet, blog, whatever it takes to get your name out. Don’t wait around for stuff because there are thousands of super talented, ambitious people in this country and like, nine opportunities.

Fast forward five years from now…what do you hope to accomplish during that time?
Looks like someone doesn’t believe the apocalypse is coming! Doomsday notwithstanding, ideally in five years I’ll be an Emmy-nominated writer for Lindsay Lohan’s sitcom comeback while performing standup at sold-out venues. Fingers crossed!
- The G! Magazine

"Girls and Boys"

Heidi Brander, is not just the ginger-haired beauty you see above. Oh no…she’s much, MUCH more. Most recently nominated for Best Stand-Up Newcomer at the 2012 Canadian Comedy Awards, she rounds out my unintentional spotlight of East Coastian comedians (this was not planned). She was born and raised in PEI but now calls Toronto her home. She’s a genius at using 140 characters to throw shade at celebrities and makes me guffaw on a regular basis with her pop-culture referenced puns of glory.

She’s written for MTV Live, YTV and she’s a 1/3 of the drag supergroup, The Cheeto Girls. If you were to ask her what her biggest accomplishment has been in her life, she would not hesitate to tell you it was her 1994 win over Ryan Gosling in the Gladstone Public School’s annual lip-sync competition. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s the legit truth.

Heidi will be doing stand-up at Egg Zeppelin with SPOOKEY RUBEN on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, that’s THIS Wednesday. Go to there. - Single Blink

"Toronto Comedians to Watch this Summer"

Do you prefer making youtube videos or doing standup?

Standup! There’s no rhyme or reason to Youtube. I wrote a song about the iPhone application Grindr that got over 100,000 hits (deservedly so) but other than that the biggest creative impact I’ve made on Youtube is a mash-up of a cartoon bear dancing to the tune of B2K’s “Bump Bump Bump.” It has twelve thousand hits. HOW?!?

What’s shitty about comedy in T.O.?

The fact that Katherine Ryan & Dana Alexander aren’t here anymore.

What’s great about it?

When comics who don’t drink beer give me their beer tickets.

What places do you typically perform at?

For me, Andrew Johnston’s “Bitch Salad” is the perfect comedy show. He puts so much thought into every detail, from the poster, the date, and the running order to which song he’ll play to bring up a comic. He really doesn’t get enough props for it. *Chest thump* It’s so crazy to me how some people think it won’t make a difference if their show has no promotion, starts 45 minutes late, and they intro a comic as “She’s a girl…please welcome Hilda Brando” (for example.) If the host doesn’t give a shit, why should the audience give a shit?

When do most of your ideas hit?

When I get an idea I’ll write it down in the “Notes” section of my iPhone and go back to it later. If it’s a good idea I’ll still be excited about it days later, but most of the time they’re pretty indecipherable. For example, right now I have a list in there that says “Surprise Bodies” “Goldfish names” and “Does Jann Arden shop at Ardene?” I do a lot of writing other than stand-up, so when I’m trying to write stand-up and I’m drawing a blank I’ll just move over to the next thing. I write song parodies with my musical comedy act “The Cheeto Girls”, I’ve been writing for MTV, YTV, and I’m always writing spec scripts, so I just rotate between all of them so I won’t get burned out on one. Like I do with my various lovers.

What comic trends/memes do you love?

It’s not a meme yet, but the inevitable gif of Tom Cruise making the James Van Der Beek crying face.

What neighborhood are you in? What do you like about it? What’s weird about it?

I just moved to the Village, which I resisted for a while because I’m enough of a fag hag as it is. I’m in love with it – there are so many local businesses and the people are so friendly. The second I step out my door someone will wave & say hello. Every day I feel like Belle at the beginning of “Beauty & the Beast”.

What does your family think of your vocational choice?

My family is ridiculously supportive! I gave my dad a glossy autographed photo of myself performing in drag as a joke Christmas gift. The next time I went to visit he had it hanging up in his office.

What was your worst gig? Best?

My worst gig was a set I did when a toilet exploded during my set. I was onstage & furthest away from the smell, so when everyone started running out of the room I thought it was because of my jokes. My best gig was when I got to help write a monologue for what would turn out to be Jackie Burroughs’ final onstage performance. She read a passage from what we wrote as an unreleased sexy book by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Very “50 Shades of Grey”. It was raunchy, and she couldn’t have been more game. She even came up with our salacious twist ending herself!

What other TO comedians should we check out?

I love love love love Sara Hennessey, Desiree Lavoy-Dorsch, Emma Hunter and Dini Dimakos but my favourite comic to watch is Andrew Johnston when he’s drunk. It’s magical.

Favourite place to drink: Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Favourite place to eat: Straight from the fingers of the boys at Cheese Magic in Kensington Market.

Heidi was just nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award - "Best Standup Newcomer". Her next show is July 4th at Slacks! 8pm – come out for it! Follow her Twitter: @heidibrander - Toronto Standard


Still working on that hot first release.



A favorite of gay guys and people who get “Darkwing Duck” references, Heidi Brander is a fixture on the Toronto comedy scene. She has written for MTV Canada's flagship show "MTV Live" and has appeared on MuchMusic's "Video on Trial" "MTV Creeps", "MTV Impact: Losing It" and ET Canada's "Remember the 90's" special. She is a resident performer at "Bitch Salad", Toronto's most popular all-female comedy show and she will perform this spring at Boston's "Women in Comedy Festival". Her accolades include a 2012 Canadian Comedy Award nomination for Best Standup Newcomer, and a 1994 win over Ryan Gosling in Gladstone Public School's annual lip-sync competition.