There are certain expectations when you name your comedy tour Canada’s Funniest Comedy. But from all indications, at least some of those expectations will be met as a diverse trio of West Coast comedians – Robert Peng, Akeem Hoyte-Charles & Jon Gagnon – make their way to this side of the country with shows at the Dark Side Comedy Club in Dartmouth and Yuk Yuk’s in Halifax.
We’re just three comedians who thought it would be funny if we had a Chinese guy, a Black guy and a white guy all go on tour together. – comedian Robert Peng
“We’re just three comedians who thought it would be funny if we had a Chinese guy, a Black guy and a white guy all go on tour together,” says comic Robert Peng via Zoom from his parent’s basement in Vancouver.
Getting to know each other doing the comedy club scene in Vancouver, Peng says it was only a matter of time before the three set out together.
The choice of Nova Scotia as their first foray east came from Gagnon’s connection to this part of Canada and a desire to see “the other side of the country.”
“Jon used to live in Nova Scotia, and he has a lot of family there,” says Peng. “And also, I wanted to eat lobster.”
Not Peng’s first time in the Maritimes either, he previously visited the area during a cross-country road trip with his family as a youngster.
“We could have just flown because there is nothing in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We didn’t even stop. We just drove through,” he says with a laugh.
Arriving in Nova Scotia during that trip, Peng recalls the family buying king crab from a fisherman. “That was an amazing time in my childhood and one of my core memories,” he says.
Life as a comedian came to Peng after studying to be an engineer.
“As Chinese, the expectation was I would study to be either doctor, lawyer, or engineer,” he says. “When I was signing up for university, my dad said I needed to go where the money was, so I picked the most money-making engineering field, which at the time was mining engineering.”
Ironically, as he graduated, the market for mining engineers was almost nonexistent. “So I decided to pick my own path in life and become a stand-up comic,” he says.
Having grown up and inspired by watching fellow Canadian comedian Russell Peters on YouTube, it only took a nudge of encouragement to get Peng into comedy.
“Back in my university days, I went to church often, and people said I was really funny,” he says. “And I was like, maybe I should pursue this as a career.”
And while being a comedian has yet to become a full-time gig for Peng, he says that since he is currently unemployed, he is “technically” doing stand-up full-time.
“This is really bad because if I’m not doing stand-up comedy, I’m supposed to be writing, but instead, I just watch YouTube,” he says. “I’m very close to doing it full-time, but right now, I really need the discipline of a real job.”
While Russell Peters may have been his initial inspiration for becoming a comedian, Peng cites Bill Burr as another influence.
“I don’t have that Boston energy, but I have that Beijing energy,” he says. “Beijing energy and Boston energy are similar because they’re both bigger cities, and everyone’s depressed and angry. In Beijing, if you walk down the street, eventually, someone will start yelling at someone else.”
Peng’s “Beijing energy” translates to the stage and is one of the reasons he says audiences will want to check out Canada’s Funniest Comedy.
“If you want to see one of Canada’s angriest Asian men, you definitely should come to see this show,” he says. “I haven’t even had sex yet, so I bring all this pent-up anger of virginity to the table.”
Peng also says audiences will not want to miss seeing Charles and Gagnon in action.
“[Charles] is one of Canada’s smoothest black guys, and Jon is one of the best writers in Canada,” he says. “We all bring a lot to the table. We have a good energy dynamic, and the contrast is definitely something more interesting than a regular show.”
Akeem Hoyte-Charles is a stand-up comedian and actor born in Montreal, Quebec, and grew up in the small town of Chateauguay. After dropping out of college twice and leaving a promising career in sales at age 25, Akeem decided to switch his focus from business to the arts. He hopped on stage at an open mic at a local comedy club in Montreal and has since performed in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver where he currently lives. He’s also had roles on tv shows seen on Freeform, the CW and Netflix.
As a cartoonist and award winning screenwriter, Jon Gagnon worked as an environmental engineer, and was a contestant on Canada’s Smartest Person, and is known for his humor about society, love and relationships. Jon has performed stand-up comedy across Canada and the USA. He is the writer/creator of the animated series “Stickman” and has appeared on the CBC program Canada’s Smartest Person Season 2. Jon was a writer and producer for Yuk Yuk’s The Brett Martin Show from 2015-2019. He is the host of his YouTube late night talk show, This Month Tonight.
Robert Peng is a Vancouver based comedian. After not finding an engineering job, Robert channeled that nerd energy into stand-up comedy delivering gut punching humor on dating and job finding. Robert has found success gaining a place at the semi-finals at the Seattle International Comedy Competition as well as performing at Yuk Yuk’s and Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy.
Robert Peng, Akeem Hoyte-Charles & Jon Gagnon perform in Canada’s Funniest Comedy at the Dark Side Comedy Club in Dartmouth on March 25 and Yuk Yuk’s in Halifax on March 26. Visit canadasfunniestcomedy.com for tickets and information.