Toronto-based comedian and improviser Cassie Cao was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award and is a recipient of the 2018 NBC Second City Diversity Fellowship. Cao is now teaching and understudying with the Second City Education Company. She’s been featured on Sirius XM’s Top Comic, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, Toronto Sketchfest, Big City Improvfest and more. 

Along with Vong Show, Cao will be starring in RICE – An Asian Comedy Showcase on May 15 at the Rivoli (332 Queen St W).

We caught up with her this week.

SDTC: When and where do you feel most content?

CC: On stage performing, no matter how small the audience is. Being on stage feels better than doing drugs. (I think. I’ve never done drugs, Mom. I promise.)

Who has had the greatest influence on your comedy?

Everyone who was mean to me and underestimated me, especially my third-year macroeconomics professor who gave me the only C of my entire academic career. Well joke’s on you, Louis, because I did get my master’s degree and then gave it all up to become a professional comedian just for this sick burn.

Funniest joke you’ve heard in recent memory?

“We all really need to be thinking about the future we’re leaving Betty White when we’re all gone.” @WhyteYote on Twitter

What is your mantra these days?

I am exactly where/how/when I am supposed to be. Also, stop caring what the bus driver thinks of me.

What dish always satisfies you?

I am obsessed with shawarma. I will fight anyone who says shawarma is not a health food, and there have been many months of the year where I have subsisted entirely on them. Last week I got a paper cut, and bled a little drop of tahini.

What film/show has recently wowed you?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag. Please watch it and after the show devastates your heart, come find me on Instagram @thecassiecao so we can talk about it and heal together.

What’s on your current reading list?

Stewart Lee’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian, lent to me by my friend and genius storyteller Sam Mullins. I’ll be reading this on tour in Alberta and BC in May and June!

What Toronto spaces do you truly love?

I love my apartment, which is convenient, since I already pay so much money to be in it.

What sight are you dying to see?

There is a church outside of Prague that is constructed entirely out of human bones. Isn’t that wicked??? I mean, a normal, non-bone church. Whatever.

Your go-to coping mechanism?

I’ll usually buy an entire Hawaiian pizza and force my mom to listen to me rant about my feelings on speakerphone while I eat it. I’ve recently discovered that my friend makes these adorable crochet stuffed animals as a way to decompress and it’s now my goal to learn to make them too. Wow, my therapist would be so impressed with me. Can you imagine?

What five (non-essential) things would you want if you were deserted on an island?

My cat, an airplane, someone who knows how to pilot the airplane, enough fuel to get me somewhere cool like Oslo, and a sandwich in case it takes a while.

What’s a childhood memory that makes you LOL?

One time to impress a boy, I ate a piece of Play-Doh from the floor. He didn’t ask me to do it; I just like to take initiative.

One skill you’d love to improve this year?

I am on a lifelong mission to master the art of small talk.

What’s a piece of career advice that has served you well?

Make friends with people you find funny. Good thing I ended up becoming a comedian, because that advice was taking me in a weird direction as an economist.

What outfit makes you feel the most you?

Whatever I wore the day before. I wish society would let me wear the same outfit every single day, like a cartoon character. It would be so great for brand recognition and laundry.

What book have you held onto since you were small?

I moved so much as a kid, so it never occurred to me to keep anything. I have had to make a conscious effort to stop accumulating books because it was getting hard to ask my illiterate friends to help me move.

What’s a subject that is currently holding your attention? 

What the bus driver thinks of me.

When you compare yourself now to where you were at ten years ago, what’s a major change you can identify?

I think I’m a completely different person than I was ten years ago. I barely even recognize myself. I’ve worked so hard to become a full-time comedian, and only a short decade ago, I was a forty-seven-year-old single dad managing a Wendy’s in New Brunswick. I’ve come a long way.

Goal(s) for 2019?

I’d like to tour a lot more this year and connect with more audiences and comedians. I should probably learn to crochet.

What do you hope audiences take away from RICE – An Asian Comedy Showcase?

I hope audiences have a chance to see some severely underrated local comedic talent who just happen to be Asian. Also to please hire me, pretty please.