July 16th, 2024

Canadian pro wrestler Sami Zayn tries standup comedy at historic Toronto venue

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on July 3, 2024.

Sami Zayn, shown in a handout photo, loves to push himself creatively. Usually it's in the wrestling ring, but this Thursday the product of Laval, Que., will step on stage as a standup comedian, sharpening his comic chops. Zayn said that he sees a lot of similarities between comedy and professional wrestling. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Courtesy WWE **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Sami Zayn loves to push himself creatively.

Usually it’s in the wrestling ring, but this Thursday he will step on stage as a standup comedian, sharpening his comic chops.

Zayn said that he sees a lot of similarities between comedy and professional wrestling.

“I think the step from wrestling to comedy it’s not a very big step,” Zayn said in a video call. “The things that make it fun and the commonality between it is very similar, like timing and pacing and feel and rhythm and structure are all very very similar.”

Zayn’s comedy show “Sami Zayn & Friends Do Toronto” will be at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall, two days before Scotiabank Arena hosts Money in the Bank, one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year. The 39-year-old from Laval, Que., will defend his intercontinental championship against Bron Breakker on the wrestling card.

Preparing for a comedy show and a title defence within days of each other is another challenge, said Zayn. But being passionate and giving his all to everything he does has become one of the trademarks of Zayn’s career.

“I think it’s what has separated me from the pack for the better part of my career,” said Zayn. “But that becomes a bit more problematic when I throw more and more variables into the mix, like a comedy show.

“While I can talk all day about the parallels between the two, I’m still not a seasoned comic, so I still have to work things out. It’s not like I’m on the road, doing open mics, working out my material, I don’t get that luxury.”

It’s the second time Zayn has done a comedy show before a major WWE event. He also did a show with “Netflix is a Joke” at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles ahead of 2023’s WrestleMania.

The 1,500-seat Danforth Music Hall has hosted some of the most famous acts in music history, including James Brown, the Clash, the Police, the Ramones, and contemporary singers like Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

Zayn said that the shows in Toronto and L.A. have given opportunities to perform in smaller venues with rich histories that he’s excited to add to.

“That first comedy show I did, I found out that the Beatles actually played there and I’m a crazy, huge Beatles fan,” said Zayn. “That blew me away, because you don’t get to do a lot of venues of The Beatles played, you know?

“But you could say the same about the Ramones, especially in this day and age, with me doing arena shows for WWE, it’s unlikely that I would play somewhere that the Clash or the Ramones played, so it’s very cool.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024.

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