Kris Hagen

Kris Hagen

Former Rosslander taking stage at Toronto comedy fest

Kris Hagen will be performing in the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival.

A man originally from Rossland will be taking to the stage in Toronto next week.

Kris Hagen will be performing in the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, an event that sees many famous Canadian comedians grace its stage.

Hagen will be performing sketch comedy with his graduation class, The Troupe of Seven.

The 33-year old lived in Rossland from the time he was born until he was 18. He then left for UVIC, to peruse studies in creative writing and English.

“Eventually I made my way out here to Toronto,” Hagen said. “It’s great out here. It’s obviously a contrast from where I grew up. But in terms of just opportunity, there’s a lot going on in the comedy community here. There’s stand up, sketch comedy and improv, there’s quite a big scene out here and it’s easy to kind of get involved in. If you just get out there, it’s a really welcoming community.”

Hagen said he’s always been into acting, music, comedy, and artistic endeavours.

“I’ve always been drawn to it, even when I was growing up in Rossland,” he said. “Lisa Henderson (RSS drama teacher) took us on drama trips to Vancouver and we’d go see the improv out there.”

The drama fascinated Hagen and he said it is fun to now actually make that part of his life and do it for himself.

Toronto keeps him busy — every night there’s something going on.

He said he first went there to go the Second City, known as the Harvard of comedy. He graduated from the conservatory program and is doing the sketch fest within grad class from the school.

This is their first year in the sketch fest, since they graduated in April.

The school itself has been around for some 50 years. Famous grads include the SCTV cast and John Candy.

At the sketch festival, troupes submit applications and need to be accepted. “You have a lot of local sketch troupes,” Hagen said. “Some of the headliners [include] Picnic Face, which just started a show on the Comedy Network and two of the Kids in the Hall, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald.”

Hagen’s group will be doing one performance. The festival is a sort of showcase of a bunch of sketch troupes and then workshops.

“It’s kind of a gathering of the sketch community to one sort of showcase,” he said.

He adds the prospect of getting on stage is different every time — sometimes it’s scary and sometimes not.

“Improv can be challenging because you’re going up there with sort of no idea what can happen, which could be the fun of it, but can also be more nerve wracking,” he said. “I’ve done stand-up a few times and that can be nerve-wracking just because you’re by yourself. Usually with improv you have someone up there and they’re supporting you and you’re supporting them.”

Hagen made his way through Vancouver, Calgary and even Australia before eventually working his way to Toronto.

“I’m planning to stay here for while,” he said. “Toronto kind of has it all, whether it’s TV, theatre, sketch comedy, improv, stand up, music. I can do all of that here so hopefully I’ll stick it out here for awhile.”

He recently got an agent and has been auditioning for some shows.

In the past he’s done theatre, but more recently he’s been focusing on sketch comedy and improv.

He also writes a lot of songs and sings at open mics.

His parents moved to Kelowna and retired there about five years ago now, so most of his family has moved out of Rossland now, but Hagen said he always feels like he has a  connection to this town from growing up here.

“I feel like the small town are like mothers: they’re probably all pretty equally cool, but you always think yours is the best,” he said. “Rossland is such a beautiful place. I feel like, even in the city, once in a while I have to get out and go somewhere where there are trees and just kind of reboot, because I feel like that’s who I am at the core.”