Tragedy Plus Time: Montréal-based Comedian Wassim El-Mounzer

Wassim El-Mounzer is a Montréal-based comedian who continues captivating the audiences with his unique conversational style. We connected with him to find out more about his influences, style and an upcoming album recording.

Wassim El-Mounzer

How would you describe your comedy style?

I wouldn’t. I’d leave that to other people. I’d feel weird doing it. But now I feel like a jerk for not answering your question. I’d say it’s a conversational style, I like to make it feel like we’re just chatting and I’m stream of consciousness coming up with stuff on the spot. But little does the audience know I have been working hard on my material, hand on my forehead with a scrunched face slaving over my notebook, furiously copying down stuff I saw Matt Rife do on TikTok.

Who are some of your influences?

Larry David, George Carlin, Chris Rock, Bill Hicks, Bill Burr, Bill C****, Billy Mays, John Cleese, Conan O’Brien, Omid Djalili, my high school gym teacher Mr. Olenocin, Maria Bamford, Seinfeld, David LaChapelle, Homer Simpson, Mr. Bean, Ali G, a framed Scarface movie poster, and Fred Durst’s soul patch.

Who was your favourite comedian growing up?

It was a tie between Brian Regan and (gulp) Louis CK. Needless to say they were both huge influences as well. Comedically of course. Russell Peters holds a special place in my Canadian, immigrant, millennial, comedian heart, and being from Montreal, Sugar Sammy holds an even deeper place, probably somewhere by my bicuspid valve.

I toured across Canada with Sugar Sammy as his opening act in 2019 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was surreal cause I grew up watching him in awe and now we’re friends and (technically) colleagues. You didn’t ask for that information but I didn’t know where else to shoehorn it in.

Who is your favourite comedian now?

Joe List. I was lucky enough to MC for him when he headlined the Comedy Nest a few years ago. He was awesome. He followed me back on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. I never use it but I sign in once a month to see if he still follows me. So far so good.

What is your pre-show ritual?

I stretch, meditate and recite incantations, holding The Amulet close to my sacral chakra. Then I walk right into the audience, find the toughest-looking audience members and fight them to show the rest of the audience I’m not scared.

What is your favourite place you have performed? Why?

Let me tell you the worst one first. I did an old folks home in Dorval once. They were all eating and minutes from perishing. No host, no opener just me for 30 minutes in the corner of their bright cafeteria at noon, the lingering stench of Javel permeating the air, armed with with nothing but a broken karaoke machine and 22 mediocre minutes of material about teaching ESL in Korea and shawarma. Two things I don’t think any of these people had heard of. The ones who could hear. I didn’t get a single laugh but a lady attached to a bunch of tubes started frantically yelling “What is happening?!” halfway through before being wheeled off by an orderly.

Now this sounds like a nightmare. But it was worse. But who cares, I survived, most of the audience survived, and that’s that. I mention it because in this business, toots, (*ashes cigar*), there’s a lot of ups and downs and shows are not always fun and you don’t always feel like performing. So when I find myself in a negative head space before a show, I always remember that day and remind myself to stop being a wiener and have fun.

Less than a week before that experience I opened for Sugar Sammy at Olympia Theatre. That was probably the coolest place I’ve performed as it’s such an iconic venue in the city. I’d been there so many times as a spectator and never imagined I’d be on that stage. I had one of the sets of my life and then I remember sitting on the couch in the green room, thinking how many legendary acts must’ve sat on that same couch. Probably some wild times, probably some orgies in there I thought. Disgusted, I got up and left. I haven’t sat since.

What is your favourite bit you have written and why were you proud of it?

I’ve got this little number about Chocolate. It comes from the frustration (envy really) I’ve always had against people who just have chocolate in their homes for days or weeks without ever thinking about it, instead of devouring it within seconds of buying it. I’m proud of it cause it bombed a lot at first but I kept developing it and now it’s probably my strongest bit. It’s very real to me and has evolved a lot over time. I have multiple versions of it ranging in length, levels of absurdity and dirtiness.

What is your favourite medium for listening or finding new comics/comedians?

YouTube and word of mouth. If I hear comics that I like to mention a particular comedian a few times in high regard, I’ll check out their stuff and am rarely disappointed.

Tell us a joke about your city.

I’m working on one, it’s still under construction.

Do you have anything to promote right now?

I’m recording an album over three nights at McKibbins on Bishop: May 19, 20, and 21. Tickets here.

Where can we follow you?


PAY IT FORWARD: Who is another local comic/comedian we should know about?

Harrison Weinreb