Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Grindr comedy comes to Ottawa

Tommy Fitz hopes to share a laugh

Comics Greg Houston, left, and Tommy Fitz. On Jan 2, Fitz performs at Grindr Comedy, which Houston co-created. Credit: Adrienne Ascah

They can’t promise sexy gay hookups, but the Grindr Comedy comics say you’ll have fun all the same.

Grindr Comedy was created by Greg Houston and Brad Dorion in March 2014. Bringing together a diverse roster of comics, the comedy shows take place at Daily Grind Art Café on the first Friday of every other month. The name is sure to grab your attention, but Houston says he means no disrespect to the iPhone app famous for helping gay, bisexual and curious men hook up.

“I thought it was funny, and it’s at the Daily Grind,” he says. “We just named it that because of the venue, and we thought it would be funny.”

Performing at a café instead of a traditional comedy club can give comics freedom to go in new directions, he says. “It’s the perfect venue because it’s a very good alternative to comedy clubs, and the crowds that show up love smart comedy and inclusive comedy.”

While Tommy Fitz is looking forward to his Grindr Comedy night on Jan 2, he says he’s fine with any venue as long as there’s an audience. “I’ve performed in every coffee shop and every bar in this city at one point over the course of the last seven years, or just about. I could do this on the sidewalk. I could do 40 minutes for those 10 people in [Starbucks].”

Born in Halifax, Fitz grew up in Montreal and lived briefly in Toronto before moving to Ottawa in 2007. In Montreal, there are limited options for anglophone comics and Toronto is overrun with anglophone comics, but Ottawa is a good fit for him, he says.

“I actually really like Ottawa now,” he says. “It’s where I got sober. It’s where I came out.” Before he came out, he had to first become comfortable with self-identifying as queer.

“I was convinced of my straightness for, like, 30 years, mostly because I had some childhood trauma that made it very difficult for me to accept and embrace that part of me,” he says. “I remember when I came out to my parents they just didn’t give a shit. My parents are very loving and accepting people . . . it’s like, ‘We don’t give a shit who you fuck; just stop getting high.’”

Coming out and getting sober was a turning point for his personal life as well as his professional one, says Fitz, who shared a bill with Ryan Belleville at Absolute Comedy in Toronto this past fall.

“I try to learn a lot from the people I work with,” he says. “Comics talk about comedy all the time. You’re constantly learning from other people, and a lot of the times when I was high, it would go in one ear and out the other or I was just too arrogant to let any of it resonate.”

While Fitz is comfortable identifying as bisexual, he thinks sexuality is more fluid than many people acknowledge.

“It’s a fluid interaction with your sexuality,” he says. “There are plenty of times in my life where I’ve been hypersexual or asexual . . . I like sex, and I like sex with people I’m attracted to. Sometimes they’re men and sometimes they’re women. They’re more often women, but I can’t think of a day in the last six years since I came out that I haven’t thought about men or been attracted to men.”

That said, Fitz says his standup act doesn’t contain much material about sex or relationships. There is a joke related to his sobriety, but the less said, the better; he doesn’t want any spoilers.