In 1976, Mark Breslin opened the first Yuk Yuk’s stand-up
comedy club. Today, there are sixteen Yuk Yuk’s comedy
clubs across Canada. Breslin has achieved much success
since those early days. He is an author, with five books to
his credit, a television producer, worked in radio, organized
and hosted the first Toronto Comedy Festival, and is a much
sought after public speaker. Check Out My Business recent- ly spoke to Mark about his incredibly successful career.
In 1976, you opened the first Yuk Yuk’s. What
made you decide to open up a comedy club?
Mark: I had been working as a programmer at the Harbour- front Project for the first couple of years it opened, and I
met all kinds of different performers. But the people that
really excited me were the comics because they were the
most fearless in terms of what they were doing and how
they were talking to people. We all lost our jobs at the Harbour front in 1976. All the comics came to me and said now
we have no place to play.
Mark: We swore every other word. All the things that we
now accept as modern comedy in 1976 were considered
When you opened that first club did you sense that
this might be the start of something great?
Mark: We never saw this when we started it as any kind
of a career or a career move or a business. We just wanted
to meet girls and cause trouble. I never in 1976 or 1978
thought this was going to be my life’s work. I thought it
would be something I did for a couple of years and I’d find
a real job. But I’m glad I never had to find a real job in my life.
Have you always been the funny guy?
Mark: No, I was the guy who was so serious I needed com- edy to just come up for oxygen. And even comedy that I did
was always a kind of apocalyptic desperate kind of comedy.
What have been some of the highlights throughout
Mark: Well, my company. I’ve written and published five
books all on comedy. Besides owning Canada’s national
largest comedy club chain and comedy agency, I’m very
proud of producing the Joan Rivers show for Fox. About
fourteen years ago I found the world’s only degree granting institution for comedy with Humber College. I also was
the first program director for XM Canada for the comedy
station and put that together for them. I was there for three
You produced the Late Night with Joan Rivers for
Mark: Yes. Joan’s great. A lot like my mother, but with bet- ter writers. She was terrific because she was fabulously energetic and she was very... unlike many Hollywood people
she was not guarded in her emotions. If she felt happy, she’d
let you know. If she felt sad, she’d let you know. If she was
angry, she’d let you know.
Over the course of your career, who have been some
of the truly funniest people you have worked with?
Mark: Well, I have to tell you that most comics are not
That’s what I’ve heard.
Mark: Yeah, sketch comics might be, but stand ups are very
serious people who have a great act that they do that makes
people laugh. But offstage they’re kind of miserable. I can
tell you who made me laugh onstage the most: Sam Kini- son, Mike MacDonald, Emo Philips, Joan Rivers, Sara Silverman, Jeremy Hotz, Harland Williams, Aaron Berg, and
David Feldman just to name a few.