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Tribute for Deborah Jarvis

In memory of Deborah Ann Jarvis, 1954 to 2019
Actor, Comedienne, Writer

Deborah was always the funniest one in the room; everyone agreed. Writers' rooms, green rooms, comedy clubs across Canada. It was always the same, Deb had the funniest lines, the sharpest takes and the best timing, always moving the show along.

Deb took to the stage almost immediately after completing a bachelor's degree in literature at the University of Toronto, commencing a long run in the perennial Toronto hit, The Mousetrap. A stint at the Stratford Festival followed, and then she discovered comedy. Stand-up, open mic, sketch, improv, all culminating in a long-running gig with the Second City National Touring Company, followed by a year with the Second City Main Stage Company in Toronto, where she worked with a young Mike Myers. In many cases, Deb was the lone female comic in the lineup. She practiced her craft in a male dominated world, and helped carve out a place for women in it.

Having worn out the old soft shoe, Deb turned to writing the jokes instead of performing them. She attended the Canadian Film Centre TV/Film Writers Workshop, and started a twenty-year career creating, writing and story-editing popular young people's television like Ready or Not, Majority Rules, Miss BG, Eckhart, Treasure Trekkers and Beat Bugs, for which the writing team won a Daytime Emmy. By the time she was ready to retire, her career encompassed story editing international teams of writers on three continents and working for world-spanning co-productions in multiple languages. Deborah was a proud member of ACTRA, Equity and The Writers Guild of Canada.

The Deborah Jarvis Fund for Canadian Comediennes

Deborah Jarvis (1954 to 2019) was a gifted comic and a prolific writer. To honour her memory, Deborah’s family and friends sought out the College of Arts, University of Guelph, to create The Deborah Jarvis Fund for Canadian Comediennes. This one-day workshop will share Deborah’s passion for the stage through an emerging comedienne who will help theatre students and others learn comedy and improvisational techniques. Later in the evening, these techniques will be put into practice for a performance. The Jarvis family selected the University of Guelph because Deborah’s grandfather taught apiculture at the Ontario Agricultural College in the 20s, and started his family here. During prohibition, he kept friends and neighbours supplied with his own potent brand of mead.

This fund is offered in collaboration with the School of English and Theatre Studies (SETS) program and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation at the University of Guelph.

Gifts to this fund, of any size, by those who have a passion for the arts, theatre, improv, writing and, of course, comedy, are appreciated. The University will acknowledge the gifts to the family unless there is a preference to remain anonymous. Mary Walsh at the College of Arts, will help if you need assistance in making your gift, her contact details are: or 591-824-4120 ext. 53750.

Contact Us



  • 50 Stone Road East,
    Guelph, ON, Canada
  • Phone: 519-824-4120 ext. 56934
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