UBC alumna and olympian to participate in the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

Graduate from UBC? Check. Compete in the Olympics? Check. Start comedy troupe and participate in large sketch comedy festival? Check.

Annamay Pierse can proudly admit to being a UBC graduate, an Olympian and now a sketch comedian with her sketch comedy troupe Highbräu.

Pierse moved from Edmonton out to Vancouver to attend UBC primarily for swimming. She trained during her school years and graduated with a degree in psychology. And, at the age of 24 while still studying, she competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Once she graduated, Pierse moved out to Toronto, where she is currently attending teachers' college. Pierse didn’t know anyone in the city at the time, so she decided to take a drop in class at The Second City Improv Centre in downtown Toronto.

“I went one day to just a drop in class and loved it, and did another one later on that night and then signed up the next day and started classes,” said Pierse.

Since training with Second City, she has now formed her own comedy sketch troupe called Highbräu, which consists of five comedians.

Highbräu, as Pierse explained, is a way of describing upper crest comedy. However, to make it a little more humorous, they used the spelling of bräu, which means beer in German.

“I’ve always loved being in front of people and on stage. If I hadn’t been a swimmer, I probably would have tried to be an actor,” said Pierse.

Their first comedy festival as a troupe was at Toronto’s Fringe Festival. Since then, Pierse and the rest of her troupe applied for the 10th Annual Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival and were accepted.

“We had to apply and it was a pretty rigorous. I guess they look at your videos and see what you’ve done around the city and kind of see if you have a name for yourself, so it’s a pretty big honour that we got into it. It’s going to be so much fun,” said Pierse.

They get to perform for 30 minutes, which will consist of six to eight different sketches, all written and produced by their troupe. The troupe will also share the stage with one of the festival’s headliners and SNL’s very own Kate McKinnon.

Pierse's next move in the comedy world with Highbräu is to apply for the Montreal Sketch Fest, as well as to continue hosting their monthly hour-length shows.