Gina Yashere commands the laughs for JFL42

Gina Yashere Cover Photo. JFL42. TheSceneinTO interview of Gina Yashere. Just for Laughs is back with the JFL42 comedy festival, where for 10 days (September 21 – 30) some of the funniest comedians in the industry come to Toronto with one goal in mind: to make you laugh out loud.

TheSceneinTO got to chat with comedian Gina Yashere who you can catch on stage at any one of her four shows September 26 -29.

With more things on the go than ever, including tours, stand-up specials and a gig on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, this comic is always busy.

inTO: Your schedule is packed to the gills, what do you do to refocus and refresh?

GY:  I like to eat! Every year I tour in Asia, and in Thailand, I go to a resort to rest up for 2 – 3 weeks. Then I do the shows.

I like to watch movies and read books but I’m pretty chill when I’m not doing comedy. I see nothing better than lying in bed watching Netflix with a box of chocolates on my lap. That’s the perfect day.

Yashere has been on several TV shows in her native Britain, and you can find her in her feature film appearances, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Mr. in Between. She has also appeared on the West-End stage in The Vagina Monologues.

inTO: You’ve had quite a few acting stints, do you see more of that in your future?

GY: I enjoy it when I do it and definitely wouldn’t say no. I’d like to do more, but it’s really to feed my standup. Whatever I do, acting, TV, writing on other shows, it’s all to feed my standup so more people come out to see me.

inTO: You wear a lot of hats—standup specials, world tours, British correspondent on The Daily Show, films, theatre, how does your prep change for these things?

GY: Standup I go and just do what I do. I’m always preparing because I’m always thinking of stuff to say. I just say stuff and I think “ooh that sounds funny,” I’ll work on it, do it the next night and then embellish until it becomes a bit. Daily Show is a lot more disciplined. I have a subject and I have to write and create the jokes around it, so it’s a lot more disciplined than I’m used to. The standup specials I do that at the end of my tours, so it’s stuff I’ve been working on already, but this time it’s on camera.

Before her life in the spotlight and on stage began, Yashere was a lift engineer, something her mother referred to as a “proper job.”

GY: If I weren’t a comedian I’d still be an engineer. I used to build and repair elevators, so probably that. I loved it while I did it, but I was never going to be the best at it. I was a good engineer, but I was never gonna be the best engineer.

Yashere left the UK for the U.S in 2007. She initially lived in L.A, but now resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.

inTO: You’re living in New York, but you’ve been to Toronto a number of times. What are the differences you see and what do you enjoy about each city?

GY: Toronto is a smaller, cleaner, friendlier New York and I love that. New York and Toronto are similar in that they are full of people who are worldly, with so many who have emigrated from somewhere else. It’s so unlike other parts of America where most people have never been out the country. Those are the similarities. What I love about Toronto and New York is that I don’t have to explain so much, because they’re a worldlier crowd—they’ve been places.

inTO: One word to describe JFL42?

GY: That’s a hard one!

(she chuckles, then pauses, followed by a full laugh):

GY: Comedy! Comedy, exclamation mark!


About The Author

Editorial Director

Janelle Watkins is a citizen of the world who has lived both a charmed and stormy life. She has worked as a personal shopper, journalist, has done extensive work in marketing communications, and public relations. These experiences have seen her working alongside prominent leaders from the fashion, culinary, art and media worlds. This bon vivant would like to add some flair to her readers’ lives and loves to get their feedback. On everyday life she sums up, “Live life in your own style, be true to yourself – be distinct.” Favourite place in Toronto: Strolling around the Yonge/Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant Village neighbourhoods with a David’s Tea and two special little someones.

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