Showbiz In My Blood
In the early 2000’s many young comics started their careers in Toronto. Some of the reasons for the influx of comedy talent in Toronto were the growth of Open Mic rooms, the Humber School of Comedy and the Toronto Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club Head Office. If you had the desire a young comic could do one or more shows a night.
Some of the new comics were trying to learn the craft, some were great writers, some were great performers, but one young lady stood out from the rest. Ms. Renée Percy had the stage presence of a veteran performer, was a superb writer, and could adapt to touring with Yuk Yuk’s or hitting the tough open mic scene. Little did the author, David Reuben, know that Renée Percy was already a seasoned professional entertainer when she hit the “Toronto Comedy Scene”.
Ms. Renée Percy was born and raised in downtown Toronto. Renée remembers; “I lived in the Annex as a kid and went to Huron Street Public School, later we moved to Bloor West Village. I’m a TO girl through and through.”
Ms. Percy grew up in Canadian Show Business, her mother was a professional dancer and teacher and her father was a professional musician. Renée’s mother states; “Renée was extremely good in school and was a leader among her friends.”
By the age of 9, young Renée Percy already had her sights set on a career in show business. She auditioned for “Degrassi” three years in a row and every year got the same letter, “…should a younger part arise, we will be in contact”. Renée says; “Finally, even though I was only 12, I could pass for 14 and I booked it. I was the youngest person on the show and felt very cool that when I was in grade 7, I was playing a grade 9, and when I was in grade 8, I was in grade 10.”
Ironically “Degrassi” led to her first stand-up comedy performance. “My very first standup set was when I was 13. In between seasons, the show would do workshops with the actors that culminated in a talent show where everyone would perform an act of their choice in front of the rest of the cast and crew to give the writers ideas of things to write for us (when I say “us” I mean the rest of the cast because I basically just walked the halls for two years on that show).”
“For some crazy reason I got it into my head that I would do a standup comedy. I had never done standup before, but I loved listening to standup albums (Steven Wright, Eddie Murphy, and Bill Cosby before he was gross). It was the night before the talent show and I had absolutely nothing. I remember my dad stayed up with me all night writing jokes. I was cursing myself for having no other discernable talent.”
“The other girls were doing lip syncs, or gymnastic routines and for some reason I thought I could write an entire standup set the night before to perform from the producers of the most popular Canadian television show. I was so nervous; I remember being backstage wondering if I could break my arm by slamming it in the door so that I didn’t have to go on. I went on and killed. And it’s been all downhill since then. The only joke I remember from that set was “Can you imagine if Patrick Swayze and Swoosie Kurtz got married? Every time she’d introduce herself, she’d be like, “Hi, I’m Swoosie Swayze” people would be like, “Whoa lady, I think you’ve had enough.”
After the “Degrassi” high school experience Renée auditioned and was accepted into the Etobicoke School of The Arts majoring in Drama. Mom Lorraine remembers; Renée always liked to be busy and is extremely focused and disciplined. She also studied modern dance and spent a year at the National Ballet School. She studied karate and has a second-degree black belt.”
After high school Renée studied at The University of Toronto with an Honours Specialist Degree in Theater. Renée thought she was going to be a serious actress, but you never know where life takes you. In Ms. Percy’s case it took her to Europe. “Touring Europe doing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night was, and still is, one of the highlights of my career (all the good stuff happened early). I thought I was going to be a dramatic actor and work at Stratford, but I played Sir Andrew in that production, and while the other girls got to look pretty and received flowers from admirers, all I cared about was getting laughs.”
Back in Toronto after touring Europe Renée immersed herself in comedy. Ms. Percy completed the Second City conservatory program, toured with Yuk Yuk’s, and received a scholarship to the Humber School of Comedy for their post grad program.
After graduation Renée Percy continued to excel at her chosen profession. Her viral video ‘Sure Lock: A True Poo Story’, has been viewed over 13 million times, was the most watched comedy video on YouTube, and won her a Canadian Comedy Award. Renée is also a past winner of the Phil Hartman Award.
Some writing credits include writing for Canada’s #1 comedy show AIR FARCE LIVE! (CBC), COMEDY INC. (CTV/The Comedy Network), MEN WITH BROOMS (CBC), she was co-creator of Teletoon’s animated pilot DUNCE BUCKET, and most recently she wrote for Teletoon’s animated series FUGGET ABOUT IT.
Stand-Up wise, Renée was featured CTV TV’s Comedy Now episode “Women Of The Night” and this special episode in 2004 also featured Aurora Browne, Jen Goodhue, and Sabrina Jalees, As an actress Ms. Percy was featured as a series regular for four seasons on the hit sketch comedy show COMEDY INC. (Comedy Network/CTV).
In 2005, life changed for Ms. Renée Percy. At a sketch/improv show in downtown Toronto, Renée met her future husband David. He says; “Renée is laser focused and a perfectionist when it came to her career.”
From 2005 to 20010 Renée continued to work as a stand-up, writer, actress, and sketch/improv performer. David remembers; Things were starting to happen in Toronto for her, but she had a desire for a bigger career in the USA.” Renée also remembers; I was up for some big shows in Canada when we made the move to the USA, but the natural progression career wise was to move to Los Angeles.”
Renée and David adapted to Los Angeles and with her outgoing personality she was able to make friends in the city of Angels. Not surprisingly, most of Renée and David’s friends are Canadians who relocated to Los Angeles. Younger sister Justine says; “Renée adapted quickly to Los Angeles, but then she thrives wherever she is.”
In Los Angeles, Renée Percy concentrated on her acting career and was auditioning almost weekly for big American television shows. Renée states; “Being in LA is like playing the lottery, every day your life can totally change”. Stand-up became secondary and she was not out that much on the Los Angeles comedy scene. Renée says; “I tried to get the sitcom deal so I could avoid the fight of the Los Angeles comedy scene.” But she kept her hand in it by doing some shows with friends in Los Angeles particularly the “Canada Day Show” at The Comedy Store.
Life takes twists and turns and people never know what the future holds. During some martial issues and a low point in her career Renée took up marathon running. Renée says; “I think the running was a way to feel like there was something in my life I had control over. Whether I ran faster, or beat the time I wanted to beat, was up to me and not up to someone saying, “She’s good but we wanted a brunette” or “If only she was an inch shorter”.”
In 2017, Renée gave stand-up another shot. She wrote a brand new 5 min set. According to Renée; it was very humbling to start over in stand-up with all new material and hitting the open mic rooms trying to get 2 minutes of stage time.”
Fellow comedian, Ross Copeland, met Renée when she started stand-up again in 2017 and says: “Renée is totally focused on stand-up, has a incredible work ethic and she has put herself out there with her honesty about difficult topics such as marriage, divorce, remarriage, and trying to have kids. Renée is very honest on stage and gets a great response.”
Renée and husband David sorted out their marital issues and he sees that she has immersed herself in the Los Angeles comedy scene in the last two years. According to David; Renée is much more mature and venerable in her act, and she is constantly writing.”
Mom Lorraine and sister Justine recently saw Renée perform in Vancouver B.C and noticed how confident, mature and venerable Renée is on stage. Sister Justine says; Renée is honest and ballsy on stage and she is talking about current female issues.”
Justine also remembers that Renée always wanted to make everyone laugh and that the Percy dinner table was like a comedy hour. “My sister is a Ninja and a major influence in my life. You have major shoes to fill when Renée is your big sister. Though our look and fashion choices are totally different, when I am seeing Renée I up my fashion game because she always looks amazing.”
Comedy has been great for Renée Percy since her return in 2017, she is a regular host at Flappers Comedy club in Burbank. Teaches stand up classes at Flappers and will be a guest instructor at the Humber School of Comedy. Has headlined at Flappers and is back doing shows through out Canada with Yuk Yuk’s.
Now Renée Percy is immersed in the Los Angeles comedy scene and is out 5 nights a week trying to be seen by clubs and management. It is Los Angeles and you never know who you might run into.
“Renée states; Oh man, I live in LA so you can’t swing a dead cat in this city and not hit a celebrity (no cats were harmed in the typing of that sentence). I’ve had the pleasure of working with lots of people, Kelsey Grammar, Tony Shaloub, Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, Christian Slater, Alan Thicke, Jason Priestly, Fabio almost killed me on a motorcycle once…”
“I’ve shared a stage with Whitney Cummings, Tiffany Haddish, Preacher Lawson, Seinfeld (I did a spot, and then he showed up and did a spot, but they locked the doors as soon as he walked in and I was stuck in the lobby). I recently did a show at The Comedy Store with Orny Adams, Dane Cook, Ron White, and Michael Rapaport all on the same show! Everyone is here, so you’re bound to work with a celeb at some point.”
Renée is a regular sketch performer on JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE (ABC), and can be seen on THE THUNDERMANS (Nickelodeon), THE GOLDBERGS (ABC), WORKAHOLICS (Comedy Central), I DIDN'T DO IT (Disney), AUSTIN & ALLY (Disney), MAKING HISTORY (FOX), and is a series regular on HISTORY OF THE WORLD...FOR NOW by the creators of SILICON VALLEY and KING OF THE HILL.
In her spare time Ms. Percy is working on producing a podcast. “I’m starting a podcast (apparently if you’re a comedian now it’s law) called In Bed with Renée Percy where I invite fascinating people to lie down and have a conversation with me. Have you ever noticed that when you’re on your back you either get really sentimental or really silly? Well, I thought it would be a fun place to interview people from. I think people are just more vulnerable and open when they’re lying down.”
Catch Renée in the 3rd season of PRIVATE EYES with Jason Priestly on Global/ION July 2019 and in the feature film, EAT WHEATIES, with Elizabeth Banks hitting theatres in 2019!
For more information on Renée Percy visit www.reneepercy.com
on Instagram at @thereneepercy
Mention you found out about Ms. Renée Percy on www.thecomedygreenroom.com