We spoke with Toronto’s drag queen of stand-up comedy about their upcoming Valentine’s Day show, their new monthly comedy show and much more…
Toronto has no shortage of drag talent with queens and kings spread across the city hosting a variety of events on any given night. For audiences looking for a little knee-slapping humour, one of the go to queens in recent years has been Toronto’s reigning drag queen of stand-up comedy, Viza.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Viza’s career in comedy began at a pretty young age. Growing up in a loud Italian family, Viza learned very quickly how to become the centre of attention: be funny! Cut to today Viza has been professionally making audiences laugh for more than 16 years. She has performed in drag comedy troupes across Canada, raised thousands of dollars for a variety of AIDS committees and organizations across the country, and won a number of prestigious Toronto-based drag titles including Drag Idol, Crews & Tangos Drag Race: One Night Only, Miss Crews & Tangos, and Queen Of Halloween. She’s even been featured on 2023’s JFL 42 Toronto lineup.
We recently sat down with Viza to chat about their upcoming Valentine’s Day show at The Comedy Bar on the Danforth, as well as their new monthly show at The Comedy Bar on Bloor, and so much more.
For those new to the Viza experience, please tell us all about you!
Viza is Toronto’s drag queen of stand-up comedy and the best act in your price range. I love animal print just as much as I love dirty jokes and dirty martinis. As a proud Italian, I was instinctively born with the gift of gab, so I’m full of hot takes and opinions whether or not I’m asked for them. It’s a safe bet that I always have something to say about something or someone.
How did things start out for you?
I originally started my stage career in 2007, lip syncing throughout Toronto’s Church-Wellesley village as a “comedy queen.” It gave me the chance to hone my stage presence and, more importantly, develop my mic skills and comedic voice. I also won one or four pageant titles here and there, but who’s really counting? By 2018 I was bored with lip syncing, so I began branching out onto stages away from the gay village. Years of “marathon drag” at Crews & Tangos can really damage one’s soul and creative drive. The pandemic allowed me the time to reflect on my true aspirations, and I decided to strictly focus on the stand-up comedy aspect of my career moving forward and I have been delighting (and in some cases terrifying) comedy audiences since. I’ve been fortunate enough to appear on JFL 42, open for Zach Zimmerman, and be a co-founding member of WERQ THE MIC, an all drag comedy troupe in Canada…We’re like “Whose Line Is It Anyways” but with wigs.
You are hosting a show on Valentine’s Day at The Comedy Bar Danforth called “Dirty Comedy Bingo.” Is this going to be as fun as it sounds? What can people expect from this show?
Dirty Comedy Bingo is always a great time and is one of my favourite events to produce in Toronto. February will mark a year since our first edition at Comedy Bar Danforth, so this will be a Valentine’s Edition mixed with One Year Anniversary. There are A LOT of bingo events throughout the city (including drag bingos) but what makes this one unique is in the title: comedy. I call it part talk show, part game show with full bingo chaos for a reason. I incorporate improv games with audience suggestions throughout the rounds, try out new standup bits in between ball calling, and add in audience games within the games. For instance, when we are playing for an X on the card, audience members can trauma dump their best worst ex experience. Winners get a prize, which is usually a stiff shot of tequila on my bar tab. I love chatting with the audience and getting to know them when they come up to claim their prizes too, which in itself becomes another game as there are 5-6 “mystery boxes” they can choose from. Some of the prizes will be top notch, and others can be a gag. Pick wisely!
Since this is a bingo show on Valentine’s Day, is this an event you should bring a romantic date to? Or is it better suited to bring your Grandmother?
This definitely isn’t your Grandma’s bingo, unless she’s a heavy drinker and into dick jokes. Dirty Comedy Bingo is the perfect event for Valentine’s Day whether you’re dating, married, friends with benefits, or just a group of pals celebrating Singles Awareness Day. This event is open to all! Just no children. Go to a library if you’re looking for kid friendly drag entertainment. I’m not your babysitter.
February looks pretty busy for you…You are also debuting a new show called “SASS!” at Comedy Bar (Bloor) What can you tell us about this new monthly show?
When class just doesn’t cut it, sometimes you need to give a little SASS! That’s a motto I’ve come to live by and partly what inspired the show title. SASS! debuts on the upcoming February long weekend at Comedy Bar Bloor and is sure to be a fabulous night of laughs and sassy hot takes. The main goal of SASS! is to platform diverse and unique comedic voices, which is why each month I’ll be curating a line up featuring some of my favourite femme identifying, BiPOC and LGBTQIA comics within the Toronto comedy scene. Are there other comedy shows that try to serve a similar purpose? Of course! But why not create more opportunities for those voices to be heard? I recently saw one of my favourite touring comedians perform at the Scotiabank Arena, and although he was absolutely on top of his game, the three openers left much to be desired at times. All straight, cis men who did material about their kids, their wives, and snoring. Not even exaggerating. It was back to back. Is snoring really that big an issue amongst straight people? I thought “did none of you cross reference your material before the show?” It was a great example as to why comedy audiences deserve and need more diverse POVs on stage and in lineups.
What else do you have in the works?
I’ve set some big goals for myself in 2024. Planning is already underway to record my debut comedy album, “Quiet Star,” on my birthday in October (mark the 28th on your calendars!). 2024 just feels like the year to finally unleash my full insanity onto the world. That’s right, I’ve been holding back. I was once told “don’t record an album until you have at least 45 mins of material you won’t be ashamed of in five years.” Hmm, I guess I should probably start working on that then. Another very ambitious goal of mine is to make some history and be a contender for the JFL 2024 New Faces Canada stand-up lineup. A few people have said it’s a long shot, but it’s an achievement I’ll continue to strive for until I go broke getting yearly facelifts.
Where can people follow you?
You can follow my journey on Instagram (@vizawillsaythisthough) or on my brand new, recently launched website (vizawillsaythisthough.com). There you’ll be able to find my blog, links to my podcast, and my upcoming show calendar to come see me live and uncensored, but never untucked.