Laughing feels great. But one feeling that may be better than laughing is, in fact, making others laugh. It can be extremely difficult to do sometimes, but fills you with pride and joy. And then, once you get the hang of it, you can be unstoppable.
That is the path that comedy writer and actor Adam Niebergall chose in his teens, and continues to shine in the industry today. Originally from Ottawa Ontario, he has gone on to win a Canadian Comedy Award in 2015 as a member of sketch troupe Get Some. Get Some also won Toronto Sketchfest Best of the Fest that year, as well as Best of Fest at Montreal Sketchfest in 2016.
Niebergall realized his passion while attending Holy Trinity Catholic High School, where he joined the school’s improv team.
“I started acting in the drama department at my high school. I always had a knack for making people laugh so I got into it so I could have a platform to do that,” he said.
While attending school, Niebergall got to know Roger Bainbridge, and later they formed the sketch group Tony Ho.
“I actually saw Roger perform at a pep rally before I knew him and he made me die laughing. He was a couple grades older than me but I knew I wanted to meet that guy and make him my best friend and I knew I wanted to learn how to do that,” described Niebergall.
Tony Ho is now an award-winning comedy sketch group, and with film work film work featured on Funny or Die, VICE, MuchMusic, Ain’t It Cool News and at the L.A. Comedy Shorts Festival. Bainbridge says working with Niebergall is always stimulating and engaging.
“In scene work you know you can really lock in with him and commit to that reality. I’ve been friends with him a long time and it’s exhilarating to me to look into his eyes and see that he’s become somebody else. He has an affinity for the bizarre, which means that as both an actor and a writer, his ideas feel spontaneous and fresh, adding a strange and surreal spin to what would otherwise be the everyday. That is where he excels- when twisting an otherwise normal plot or role into his uniquely “Adam” style. He tends towards the darker side of funny, but he’s always sympathetic too. He loves to make you love a character and feel overwhelmingly sad for them at the same time. He works hard and he trusts his instincts. His efforts are self-assured and thoughtful. All this makes it really great working with him but the most rewarding part is that he never stops interesting me,” described Bainbridge. “What makes Adam such a talented actor is his skill at making the standard unique. He always seems to bring a version of the character to the table which is both exactly as one would imagine it, while at the same time being something only Adam could have come up with.”
Niebergall has worked with Tony Ho for going on 6 years, performing all over North America including theSan Francisco Sketchfest, UCB Sunset and UCB Franklin and Nerdmelt Sketchmelt in LA, Philadelphia Sketchfest, Toronto Sketchfest, LA Comedy Shorts Film Fest, and making short films and music videos.
“We’ve spent so much time together and really learned what we each do best and I’ve really learned from them about keeping a high standard for my output,” said Niebergall.
Not only is Niebergall a talented actor, but also an exceptional comedic writer. His work directly contributes to Tony Ho’s success.
“As a writer, you want to write for him because you’ll get to see the part of him that inspires you but then he adds his strange touch and the result is better than you could have hoped. He sees the characters as though they are real people but he has the propensity to add such strange quirks and qualities and still make them feel real – with odd human ticks, with warts and all, with secret inner sadness or pasts that affect the present – all of his choices are completely insane but somehow they all work perfectly,” said Bainbridge.
Actor and comedian Miguel Rivas also worked alongside Niebergall with Tony Ho. Rivas describes Nibergall as vibrant and a pleasure to work with.
“He works hard and he’s positive on set which is really important. The days are long and it helps being with him because he’ll make you laugh while you work. I really believe in concentrating and maintaining a good attitude on projects, especially when it’s harder – it’s hot, it’s late, everyone’s hungry etc. – and Adam knows when to buckle down. That being said, nobody makes me laugh harder at 6 in the morning after we’ve been shooting overnight,” said Rivas. “I think Adam’s natural gifts are what impress me most about him. I think he’s technically sound, but I’m blown away by his raw talent. He has a huge interesting personality and he’s naturally very funny, confident and likeable, so Adam has so many tools to use when he’s acting. It allows him to be interesting on screen with ease because it suits him. He can make choices that are completely unique to him and they come off very natural for his characters. Ultimately this means he can put so much of himself into his work as an actor and always benefit the project. He’s capable of being transformative to be sure, but I love watching his acting for the personality that belongs to him and only him.”
Tony Ho continues to be recognized both in its home city of Toronto and internationally for its dark and humorous sketch comedy, with Niebergall at the forefront. However, Niebergall says the friendships formed with the people he works with are what makes it so easy.
“Working with Tony Ho is awesome. We all really agree on a certain sensibility and it has made making things together a real fulfilling experience. We all agree it’s important to do things differently and we want to make stuff that stands out,” he concluded. “We’re also really good friends which helps.”