Burlington comedian’s parents keeping her ‘humble’ for second season of ABROAD


Published June 11, 2023 at 9:00 am

Burlington's Isabel Kanaan is the star and co-creator of Abroad, which appears Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m. on Omni Television. The sketch comedy show is filmed in Oakville. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Burlington’s Isabel Kanaan could hardly wait to get feedback from her most important critics.

When the star of ABROAD on OMNI TV, which is filmed in Oakville, asked her parents what they thought after watching a Season 1 episode of the Filipino comedy sketch show, it wasn’t quite the response she was hoping for.

“It’s funny because when they’re actually watching the show, and I’m watching them watch the show, they will laugh and stuff and then after it’s done they’ll say, ‘Hmm, it was OK,’” Kanaan, whose second season of her hit satirical sketch comedy series premieres Sunday (June 11) at 8:30 p.m. on OMNI TV, said before bursting out laughing.

“They’re just trying to keep me humble and I accept it. I don’t try to fight it anymore.”

Co-created by and starring the Filipina comedian, ABROAD is a Canadian Screen Award nominated series with eight weekly episodes in English and Tagalog, based on the immigrant experience in Canada.

Are some of the sketches based on her parents? Kanaan isn’t saying so, though a lot of their relatives and family friends seem to think so.

“They’ll have some of my other family friends or friends reach out to them and say, ‘Oh, this is so you.’ Like they could see them,” she explained. “They go up to me, especially my mom, then she comes up to me and she’s like, ‘That’s not based off me, right?’

“I’m just like, ‘Ah, who’s to say,’” she added with a chuckle.
Kanaan said Season 2 of the sketch comedy will focus more on things that maybe some Filipino-Canadians are talking about today.

“For season 1, we put on the show jokes and stories that we as Filipino immigrants have been telling to each other for years now and we just haven’t seen it on TV,” said Kanaan, who immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of 16. “For Season 1, we just put it up on TV, but nothing necessarily really new. What’s new in Season 1 is we got to see it on TV and that was cool.

“Now for Season 2, we are thinking ahead of what are the things we are just starting to talk about now. What kind of conversations and issues we are dealing with today in the Filipino diaspora and putting that up on TV. So now, it is something new they will be seeing.”

One of the biggest changes will be the translation to Tagalog, the Austronesian language spoken in Luzon and neighbouring islands that forms the basis of the standardized national language of the Philippines.

“We would either go almost deep Tagalog with a translation, almost formal Tagalog when it would translate to Tagalog. But for season two, I want it to be more colloquial. How we actually speak Tagalog,” said Kanaan.

“Especially because a lot of Filipinos, we speak Taglish. Which is Tagalog English. Even the deep Tagalog words that Filipinos don’t know. It’s like having one of those SAT’s, spelling kind of words, but in Tagalog. We kind of did away with that for Season 2 and already I’m feeling it much better. The flow is much better and even the comedy comes out more.”

Many of the fan favourite characters in Season 1 will be returning promises Kanaan.

That means more of Passive Aggressive Mama and Black Market Nestor, the dance instructor/black market dealer.

“He’ll remind us of all of our uncles,” she said. “Well, maybe not all.”

Devy Santana will return to grant more wishes.

“It’s kind of like the monkey paw,” Kanaan said. “Like, be careful what you wish for.”

Robo Yaya is also coming back.

“I don’t want to spoil too much, but her arc gets wild. It goes global, I should say.”

The recognition and feedback the sketch show received in Season 1 has hyped the cast and writers heading into this season.

“In Season 1, we got so much good feedback and it started a conversation,” she explained. “Even when we put clips on social media and we’d have like 9.5 million views, 8 million views and those were specifically the ones that people started either conversations or arguments.

“It’s amazing and also the show got a Canadian Screen Award nomination for best sketch comedy show. So that was really cool.”

ABROAD sketches have gone viral around the world online. Kanaan gets messages from across the globe asking where they can watch it.

“People commenting aren’t even necessarily Filipino,” she said. “People that are like, ‘Oh, this happens with my Mexican mom,’ and like that, so it’s really cool to see.”

Kanaan even gets suggestions or ideas for the show from relatives and friends here and from back home, like high school.

“I was there last February and he was like, ‘I’ll meet up with you but you have to write a sketch about me,’” she said before bursting out laughing. “I was like, ‘OK.’”

Kanaan is excited about Sunday’s Season 2 premiere.

“I hope people enjoy more of it and thank you for being part of Season 1,” she said. “Let’s do it all over again.”

The comedian will make sure to watch some of this year’s episodes with her parents. No worries if they travel back home during the season.

“Don’t worry because the PVR is ready to go,” she said with a chuckle.

Told her parents, relatives and friends are surely very proud of her, Kanaan doesn’t hesitate.

“I’d like to hear it every once in a while,” she said, adding a chuckle. “I know they are.”


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