Kirsten Rasmussen can't vouch for how bright the neon lights are on Broadway, but she does know they're blinding on Bloor Street. "My first memories of Toronto include wandering through Honest Ed's, that bizarre, amazing store," says the Saskatchewan-bred comedian, about the unmissable building that's now shuttered. "I'll miss those lights." Rasmussen, a former Second City comedy star who has her own solo show at next week's Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, has plans to visit Honest Ed's one last time this weekend, when the building holds panel discussions, a dance party and a giant art maze. The comedian took time out to let us in on what other things have been lighting up her life lately.
What she's watching: "I've only seen the first few episodes, but I'm loving Chewing Gum so much right now. It's a British sitcom starring Michaela Coel, and it's inspired by her play Chewing Gum Dreams. The characters are so big and also so real and grounded and funny. It's based on Coel's real life, and you can feel that. It's silly and absurd, but so truthful at the same time."
What she's listening to: "I love the self-titled EP by Brave Shores, an amazing Toronto group. Bought it in the summer and just listened to it like a full stalker. Over and over and over and over."
What she's reading: "The Babysitter at Rest is a book of short stories by Jen George. It's a beautiful, haunting, hilarious read and I have to put it down every once in a while just to soak in the disturbing imagery. I also love reading autobiographies and just finished Alan Arkin's An Improvised Life: A Memoir. He was one of the first cast members of the Second City Theater in Chicago and his book is full of history and love for improvisation that will delight any improv nerd."
Kirsten Rasmussen performs Full Time Idiot at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (March 1 to 12, various venues) on March 2 and 4. Info at torontosketchfest.com.