TOSketchFestBlog

10 Years of Vest of Friends

Vest of Friends – Reid Brackenbury, Morgan George, Marc Hallworth, and Evan Richardson – will celebrate their 10th Anniversary in 2020. What began at Humber Comedy quickly turned into thousands of sketches written, hundreds of live shows, four members, three members, two members, back to three or four members, and 100 podcast episodes.

Vest of Friends have packed tons into the past decade, with many memorable moments at TOsketchfest including scoring the 2016 Best of the Fest Award, the 2016 Sketchiest Sketch Troupe Award, and the 2011 Steamwhistle Producers’ Pick Award. We even put them on the same Festival poster as Kate McKinnon in 2015 because they are truly that good.

Do not miss their full length Anniversary Show – and Tenth TOsketchfest appearance – on Thursday, March 12 at The Theatre Centre. Be sure to wear your finest vest!

To celebrate this rare milestone in Sketch Comedy history, we asked the sketch comedy community to share their favourite memory or anecdote about Vest of Friends. We promptly received gushing words of adoration and heartfelt roasts, and we are so happy to share them with you now.

“I taught Vest of Friends everything they know. I also introduced them to the vest. As young comedy students, they were typically cocky and inattentive until one day I wore a vest with a smart pair of teacher pants and crisp white blouse.  I recall Morgan narrowing his eyes, and circling me as he studied my chic and happening velvet waistcoat paying close attention to every detail. Obviously he had never laid eyes on one before. Marc looked up from his crossword and promptly joined him. Both of them now looping around and around as I introduced the concepts of irony and satire. They broke free from their daze and began giggling and smirking in the corner of the room as usual. But I knew then that something had shifted. A teacher knows when they’ve made an impression whether it’s with information or a piece of clothing. I’m thrilled for their success and will continue to take full credit for it.”
Professor Robin Duke 

“I met the Vests first at Humber’s sketch showcase back in 2010. The idea was the best of this showcase would get a spot in TOsketchfest. I had the pleasure of announcing them as the winners, but announced them as “Best of Friends.” They were thrilled, and came on stage all excited. Morgan took the opportunity to correct me, right there on stage “Vest of Friends,” he said. “What?” I asked. “Vest,” he said… “VEST of Friends,” pointing to his own vest, then gesturing to the others. “Oh my God that’s so dum-dum,” I chuckled back, “… don’t worry, you’ll change that.” Nope.”
Paul Snepsts, Executive Director of TOsketchfest

“Back in 2010, I was a juror at a TOSketchfest Humber Sketch Comedy competition night where the winning troupe would win a prestigious slot in the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival.
Vest of Friends handily won that night and I still remember that set.  With 10 years of hindsight, it’s amazing to think back at how advanced and developed that troupe was even then – it was all there, the vests, the See My Vest song, the controlled anarchy and no-beat-dropped approach to writing and performance – and most significantly – the infectious sense of fun and absolute charm. I remember saying to someone after that show – “if that’s how they are after only a few months together, I can’t imagine how good they’ll be in 3 years“.
Well, 10 years later – I marvel at their skills and laugh more with them than I ever would have imagined.  They’re hilarious, charming and fun pros who are pinnacles of the comedy community. I’m glad we’re rightly celebrating them now, because no one does it better than Vest of Friends.  And I cannot ever get enough of that Home Improvement scene. Congrats on 10 years Vest of Friends!”
Peter Hill, Beggar’s Canyon

“I remember my troupe FRATWURST and I were competing in the Fresh Meat competition back in 2011 for a shot at the Tim Sims showcase show. Only five acts were picked. I remember beating those vest guys for the spot. Honestly, best day of my life.”
Josh Murray

“Every summer Ladystache and Vest of Friends would party it up at the Montreal Sketch fest, non stop bits and laughing the entire time. BUT my fav memory was this one year, where a group from Chicago came and got naked, the guys and one gal specifically. The crowd was very confused as it wasn’t funny and just a woman naked walking up and down an aisle. So Allison and I were up on the balcony and all the VOF were in the crowd and I could see them all squirming and being quite confused EXCEPT Reid. Reid was INTO IT, like he FULLY turned his head to follow that topless woman and we all gave him shit over it the entire weekend. I don’t know why but it was so funny at the time as well as creepy as hell.”
Steph Tolev

“Everything I love about Vest of Friends can be summed up in three words: “Skin. Penis. Butt.” 
Congrats you silly boys. Love ya.”
Allison Hogg 

“The Vest of Friends. 10 years and they’re finally almost as good as Tall Boyz! 
– My favourite Marc memory: him finishing everybody’s chicken wings at the end of the night because he only had three toonies and a loonie jangling around in his pocket. This happened every week for eight years.
– My favourite Reid memory: that one time he acted like a normal human being.
– My favourite Evan memory: is he still in the troupe?
– My favourite Morgan memory: Morgan’s sisters.
I am enamoured by how you guys aren’t just wonderful artists, but how you live every day like it’s one big, stupid sketch. It helps those around you to not take their time on this spinning shit-heap so seriously. You guys are truly my favourite sketch troupe and it’s only a matter of time before you start making money at this. I love you dearly. Xox”
Hunter Collins

“My favourite memory with Vest of Friends was when we all travelled to Chicago for Sketchfest. On the way there we had good ol’ road trip times, just blasting “Party in the USA” on repeat. However, on the way back Carson Pinch got food poisoning and we had a hell of crawl from Sarnia to Toronto. Morgan drove so strong, Evan was worried but put on a brave face, Marc kept spirits high, and Reid wasn’t there. 
Never forget that you are The Flirty Boys brother troupe, and that Morgan is King of the Philippines. Love you boys.”
Alessandra Vite

“When I saw Vest of Friends perform a sketch at Chicago Sketchfest sketchubator, I remember being in a gigglefit the entire time. I’d seen them at TOSketchfest, which is their home turf, but watching them kill it in front of an audience in a new city was a treat. I had a few free beers in me, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember the sketch being about a town meeting. Two of the members were in the audience asking the most inane questions while one of them was alone on stage, taking it as best as they could while gradually losing it. The play between all three Vesties – the quickness, the absurdity, the rhythm, the rapid-fire jokes – was a barrage of funny. And then I got to know them more offstage and be on their podcast, and I was like, oh, they’re super talented and they’re are the most lovable dudes on earth? Unfair! Anyway, much love to you all, and congrats on 10 years you ol’ vested-up so-and-sos!”
Jacquie Baker

“10 years of Vest of Friends means 10 years of the word “Vest” being smashed into as many ill-fitted show titles as you can imagine. Some of my personal favourites include Vest-entines, Summer Solst-Vest, Vest We Forget and of course even SketchVest. I’ve watched and been lucky enough to pretend to be Reid in many of their sketches. From Hooters to Jamanji, it’s hard to nail down exactly what is my favourite Vest of Friends moment. But I guess it would have to be in a sketch called Bear Son, when Evan throws a mimed broom off stage queuing a glass breaking sound effect that lasted for a FULL TWO MINUTES.
Happy SketchVest everyone, here’s to 10 more years of these beautiful idiots.”
Michael Kellet

“I wish I had a more specific anecdote or memory or favourite sketch to share–but the reason I don’t is because every time I’ve ever seen them I’ve laughed so hard; whenever I’ve interacted with them personally they’ve been delightful and genuine. It all kind of blends together to me because they are simply consistently awesome, hilarious, approachable, and essentially, constantly exceptional. When you’re consistently the best at what you do it’s hard to pinpoint one moment.”
Vanessa Purdy

“Vest of Friends are funny, fast, and kind. They challenge fashion norms and always come with a clear, detailed tech sheet. If there were more sketch troupes like them, it would make them less special. Vest is Best!!”
Devon Hyland

“Their town hall sketch about building their city on rock and roll, and their sketch about coming up with the Home Improvement theme song are a couple of my faves. I’ve seen those sketches about 10 times now and they’re hilarious every. single. damn. time.”
Anesti Danelis

“My fondest memory of “The Vesties” is from Montreal Sketchfest at Theatre St Catherine. They performed a sketch about a man who goes on a date with a top hat that is approximately 20 feet tall and can’t seem to understand what is odd about that. I fell out of my chair laughing as he kept agreeing to remove the hat then revealing another, smaller, (but still outrageously tall) hat underneath. It was the perfect audacious prop for a theatre that had such a high ceiling. 
When they performed a marathon show of 50(!) of their best sketches and asked for people to guest, I requested the top hat sketch, just wanting to be on stage for it as the waiter or a minor character. To my great honour and surprise they let me be the top hat character, and I remember doing the sketch on my knees to cram as much top hat into the Comedy Bar’s lower-ceiling stage as possible, wearing a big furry vest with no shirt underneath, and having the time of my life. 
Then joining the audience to watch them flawlessly perform another 49 hysterical sketches from their massive archive like it was nothing? That’s one of the things I like best about the boys. They make it look easy. “
Joel Buxton

“A poem for the boyz…
We love Best of Schrends and their tiny wee hats 
They have seven members and none of them cats
Sweet Marcus and Reidus and Moogan so handsome
And last but not least our Dear Evan Hansen 
That’s the end

Not a poem for the boyz…
We fell head over heels for Vest of Friends and their very sane, grounded sketches. When we’re writing something silly and get a bit stuck we often still find ourselves saying ‘what would Vest of Friends do?’ Their hat sketch is perfect. Their waistcoats are an abomination. And they’re all too nice for their own good. “
Flo & Joan

“When I think about Vest of Friends I think about doing things all the way. Full commitment to each bit (building a 10 foot-tall hat), full commitment to the idea of a sketch troupe (constant shows for TEN years?!?!? That’s as many years as their hat is tall, as long as it’s the same height that I just kind of made up a second ago). Also full flexibility (someone can’t be there for a while? Two people can’t? We move forward, we represent the troupe, the troupe is bigger than any one of us. That teaches me a lot about not being perfectionist, you just get so much more done and just make more good things and make more people laugh). Also they’re very nice people, and look enough alike that sometimes you think it’s like a family troupe which is really charming, three brothers plus Marc. I love to watch them and I love to talk to them!”
Jeremy Woodcock

“My favourite Vesty moment was when they kept putting on taller and taller hats at the Theatre Centre. It was so simple and so stupid. Here’s to hats that are ten feet tall, and ten years of Vests!”
Meg MacKeigan, TOsketchfest Board Chair

“Vest of Friends, to me, pound for pound are the funniest sketch troupe in Toronto. They are proof that great chemistry and hard work breeds great results. I’ve literally been trying to recreate what they have done with every sketch troupe I’ve ever had. Ask anyone I’ve been in a troupe with. Seriously the amount of times I’ve come to a sketch meeting and said “Vest of Friends did this one sketch and I’ve got an idea that’s pretty similar but not quite the same, instead of a big hat, it’s a big shoe.”  
I remember the first time I saw them at some Humber show thinking they were like celebrities. Now when I think back, it’s very weird because I would consider them all my friends now. Meh, the only one who still might be a celebrity to me is Evan. I’ve probably known him for 4 years and I don’t know if we’ve ever really met. Evan, if you read this I’m a big fan and would love to meet you someday.
But I no longer think of them as celebrities, not just cause they are my friends but because they are humble, work hard and never stop thinking about how to create opportunities for new comedians. Marc has created more comedy rooms and supportive open mics than anyone else I know. He was my biggest supporter when I was started and would always encourage me to work harder. In my many years of being rejected from festivals Morgan was and is always the first person to tell me not to give up and keep working because good things come to those who work hard. He’s pushed for me every time and I’m forever grateful.
I have so many favourite Vest of Friends sketches, but the one I think about the most is when they attempt to figure out an ending to the theme song for Home Improvement. Morgan as Tim Allen and Reed riding a jack hammer, everything about that sketch is perfect. “
Chili Davidson

“The unfortunate thing is that I can’t remember when I first saw Vest of Friends, but I do remember laughing at their sketches throughout the years. I do remember them here, there, and everywhere in the Sketch community, from the Rivoli to Comedy Bar, doing their weird sketches with absolute joy. But what stands out to me more than any particular Sketch has always been their attitude, always willing to chat and share their time with veteran or new artists.”
Chris Leveille

“The Vest of Friends have been in my life as long as I can remember, which I guess is ten years? My favourite memory is the 2012 Christmas run of shows my sketch group Parker and Seville did with the Vesties, where we would alternate sketches from each troupe (include my favourite vest sketch, sexy weather) and the thing was strung together with a plotline about a carrot company trying to save their company from the bulldozers outside. The next TOsketchfest in 2013, during the magical late night performers-only show Sketch Train, the Vest of Friends were planning on performing one of the best sketches, but then we bullied them into doing a 10 minute long rendition of this carrot/bulldozer bit with no preparation and a healthy sprinkling of swearing mixed in. I think it went well!  The point of this anecdote is that the Vest of Friends are easily bullied, hilarious young boys whose humour is a part of my DNA. I’m so happy to be working with Marc and Morgan in The Wow and whenever I see them they lend me their electric energy kind of like the climax of Ernest Goes to Jail, where Ernest turns into electro-man and breaks out of jail. How long are these supposed to be? If it’s supposed to be short just put “Vest of Friends…. hilarious…. Ernest Goes to Jail” I love you very much.”
Dave Barclay

“I always loved their ability to milk a complete throwaway joke that had nothing to do with the premise. It was also great to see them try new things to try to hone a sketch, making each show slightly different. It was always a big, dumb time watching them, with no darkness or politics. Vest of Friends were an escape.“
Aaron Hagey-Mackay

“The truth will set you free so here it is: VEST OF FRIENDS IS MY FAVOURITE SKETCH TROUPE. I remember seeing them for the first time on Cash Grab and thinking “who the hell was that troupe. I want to watch them forever.” After meeting them individually I fell even deeper in comedy love. These guys are the nicest, funniest, wildest guys around, and since then I’ve had the honour of being on their show countless times, doing the weirdest and dumbest shows with them and losing to them at laser tag in Montreal. Too many fave sketches to mention but Micro Man was the one that got me hooked and tiny hat, Hooters, Park Ranger and countless more keep me coming back. These guys are family and a Toronto comedy institution and I insist they receive the order of Canada.”
Susannah Kiernan

“I have been watching Vest of Friends since the beginning, but the moment that cemented their absolute legend status for me was their first show at the Theatre Centre for TOsketchfest 2016 (?), when Morgan burst out from behind the curtain to Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys, covered in construction paper flames. That entire set was fucking amazing and I hold all sketch comedy up to how that show made me feel.”
Damien Nelson

“What can I possibly say about the Best of Friends guys that everyone else hasn’t said. Those guys are just terrible! ;) For me when I look back at my life in Comedy those boys are always there. Performing at Hard Luck, Tim Sims, Sketchfest and so much more. 
Having been trained in the more political ring of comedy myself, their style made me scratch my head, while whole heartedly laughing my pants off. Their sketches are absurd but absolutely timeless. They are always a treat to work with on and off stage, and the room always lights up when a vest can be seen.  Thanks to the Vests, I do think the weather is far too sexy and will never stop singing “See my Vest”.
 Wishing you all long and laughter filled futures. I will always be one of your number one fans! Adore you guys!
Deanna Palazzo

“Sure, the Vests may be younger, funnier, and better looking than us.”
Palcoholics

“I remember the first time I saw Vest of Friends I was in shock. I had never seen sketch comedy with THAT MANY JOKES! The Bank sketch was the first of MANY that had me laughing non-stop. I remember wondering, “How can I be laughing SO hard at someone just miming to type on a computer?”  They are all outstanding performers, such hard-working individuals, and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Congratulations on TEN YEARS and thanks for making us laugh!”
Anna Smith

I’ve been a fan of Vest Of Friends since they were li’l babies. In fact, I was a fan before I ever saw them perform. I saw them first a million years ago backstage at some show and became a fan right then and there. They were then as they still are now: the embodiment of the spirit of sketch comedy. A group of funny people inviting the world to have fun with them. I didn’t need to see their act to know that I wanted to be backstage at shows with them for years to come to riff and laugh and goof around. Now they’re a bunch of old babies, and still a joy to be around.
PS – I eventually did see their act and it was TERRIBLE. I mean vests?! What’s that about?!
Ned Petrie

~

Needless to say, everyone loves the Vesties.
Do not miss their appearance at #TOsketchfest20 – even Reid will be there!
Tickets: https://www.torontosketchfest.com/tscf-troupes/vest-of-friends/