The Canadian Film Centre reveals six talented writers part of the 2024 Comedy Story Room Intensive

Posted: Feb 5, 2024

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Toronto, February 5, 2024 – The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is pleased to announce the six writers selected to be part of the Comedy Story Room Intensive, which begins today. Presented by Bell Media, the Comedy Story Room Intensive is a professional training initiative for emerging and mid-level writers to support their career growth with invaluable mentorship from an experienced showrunner and on-the-job training.

The Comedy Story Room Intensive has been designed for writers looking to gain experience in comedy writing and engage in a collaborative series writing room. This full time, 12 week program is for those who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour to open opportunities for underrepresented voices and support the future of diverse storytelling. This intensive will put the writers through the paces of a comedy room model with professional turnaround expectations.

“We’re so pleased to welcome these gifted writers to be part of the Comedy Story Room Intensive and grateful for Bell Media’s continued support in offering this invaluable opportunity to fresh new voices in the industry,” said Kathryn Emslie, Executive Lead, Programs – Talent Development and Content Creation, CFC. “We’re also lucky to have an extraordinary mentor, Anthony Q. Farrell, lead this comedy story room to help elevate these writers as they move into the next stages of their careers.”

The intensive will provide a team-based approach to a writers’ room under the mentorship of experienced executive producer, comedian, writer and actor Anthony Q. Farrell. Farrell was named Playback’s 2021 Showrunner of the Year and received Writers Guild of Canada’s 2022 Showrunner Award. He will guide the writers and lead the story room as showrunner as they help develop his latest comedy series Truck U.

“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with the CFC and we couldn’t think of a better mentor for this group than Anthony Q. Farrell who will help bring this distinctive, tailored Comedy program to life,” said Carlyn Klebuc, General Manager, Original Programming, Bell Media. “Building on Bell Media’s commitment to tell authentic Canadian stories, we hope this program serves to catapult the careers of this talented group of writers so they may continue bringing fresh and unique voices to the genre and landscape.”

“Collaborating with fellow comedy writers is one of my favourite things to do. Working towards a creative goal with a group of funny, intelligent people is a recipe for joy. I’m really looking forward to developing this series with these six talented scribes,” shared ​​Anthony Q. Farrell. “The Canadian Film Centre has lifted the careers of so many great Canadian artists. I am truly honoured that they’ve asked me to help them in their pursuit of a stronger, more diverse entertainment industry.”

The 2024 Comedy Story Room Intensive Participants:

MostafaShaker Headshot

Mostafa Shaker (He/They) is an Egyptian-Canadian comedian, writer, actor and producer. He expresses his comedic voice through projects that reflect his experience as a queer Arab immigrant. He’s appeared in over 40 theatre, film and TV projects. As a writer, he’s been part of the Netflix BANFF Diversity of Voices Program, BIPOC TV & Film Showrunners Program, NSI Series Incubator and Reel World’s E20 Program. Mostafa is in development with Crave and Sphere Media on a half hour comedy inspired by his own life and with OMNI Film on a half hour family comedy.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

Superstore – not only did I love what the show had to say, and the specificity of the characters, it’s also my type of humour, funny-forward with a lot of heart.


Della Haddock (She/Her/Hers) is a writer, improv and sketch comedian, story editor, and producer, who has performed at Just For Laughs Vancouver, the Vancouver Improv Festival, and the Vancouver Fringe Festival. She is a member of the improv troupe ‘Hot Snack’, and she can also be seen as an alumni House Team performer at Blind Tiger Comedy. She has been on the programming committee of the Vancouver Short Film Festival, a CMPA Diverse Producers mentee, a Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative fellow, and was one of the six screenwriters selected to participate in the 2022 Whistler Film Festival Screenwriters Lab.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

Broad City exemplifies how an honest portrayal of flawed and brazen women still feels surprising and fresh in all its iterations – and I hope audiences never grow tired of that! This show created a language of humour around two unique leading voices and I, a desperate fanatic, would have paid to be in that room if only to witness the jokes that never made it to the page.


Aditi Raina (She/Her/Hers) is an data analyst turned comedy writer who grew up in India and lives in Toronto. Most recently, she was a writer for Abroad Season 2 on OMNI, a sketch comedy show about Canadian immigrants. She is a contributor for Reductress and The Beaverton. When not writing, she is busy overthinking about how she isn’t writing.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

I would have loved to be in the Story Room for Broad City. I love writing about female friendships and absurdities of everyday life. The dream is to write something as relatable, silly and insane as Broad City, no pressure!

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Marushka Jessica Almeida 

​​(They/Them/Theirs) is a Middle East born and raised, South Asian writer/producer, ex-accountant, former music-business-exec and many other failed careers their parents are too depressed to list. Currently, they’re an executive producer/co-creator on the upcoming Get Up, Aisha (CBC). They have written/story edited on Made for TV(Crave) Homeschooled (CBC), Near or Far(Wattpad, CBC), Streams Flow From a River (Superchannel) and other Canadian comedies. When Marushka isn’t swimming in a whirlpool of existential dread they can be found complaining about why public nap areas don’t exist.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

I would have killed to be in the room for the Comeback. Top tier cringe comedy? character journeys that were decades in the making? And our lord and saviour Lisa Kudrow!?


Qaseem Fazal (He/Him/His) is a Muslim, gay, comedy writer. He recently finished working as a Jr. Story Editor on the second season of Family Law. Qaseem is also a graduate of the Pacific Screenwriting Program, The Reel World E20 Program and The Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada: Mid-Level Writers Room. His queer coming-of-age comedy series titled What’s Normal Anyway? is currently in development with Amaze Film + Television. Qaseem loves showcasing queer stories from underrepresented communities. His hope is that his stories inspire a new generation of youth to never be afraid of their race or who they chose to love.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

Never Have I Ever because It’s a diverse comedy that normalizes the experience of immigrant south Asians in a way that recognizes their existence. Also, it’s such a funny show and to have my jokes included would have been a dream come true.

Nattasha Shrestha

Nattasha Shrestha (She/Her/Hers) is a Southeast Asian storyteller who writes dramedy narratives that cut close to the bone. Having been raised internationally in over five countries and continents, she brings a distinct, sharp and robust POV in screenwriting, seeking to explore the intersection between grief and comedy. After graduating from the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Film School, she’s been a story editor for multiple shows and festivals, a writer for Netflix’s Womens in Animation Program and the winner of the VAFF Bell Media Series Development Competition. She is currently in development for three of her own original shows, all in pursuit to celebrate unusual and underrepresented stories on screen.

What Comedy Series would you have loved to have been in the story room for and why?

I always thought I would’ve loved to have been in the storyroom for Sex Education.I think it’s one of those shows that portrays comedy in a way that’s both nostalgic and also uncomfortable in its naked (literally) portrayal of deeply flawed people. That intersection of funniness and unsettling vulnerability is what I want to explore, both as a viewer and a writer alike.

Anthony Q. Farrell’s Bio:

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Anthony Q. Farrell (He/Him) is a BAFTA-winning, Emmy-nominated writer/producer who has worked in Canada, the US, and the UK for over 20 years. He recently served as the creator, showrunner and executive producer of CTV’s half-hour comedy Shelved. He has served as executive producer and showrunner of CBC’s Run the BurbsOverlord and the UnderwoodsThe Parker Andersons/Amelia Parker, and the BAFTA-winning Secret Life of Boys. Anthony’s writing credits also include NBC’s The Office, Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans, and Little Mosque on the Prairie. Anthony was honoured as Showrunner of the Year at the Writers Guild of Canada Awards in 2022, after receiving the same title from Playback in 2021.

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About the CFC
The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is a charitable cultural organization that drives the future of Canadian storytelling. Our intensive, hands-on programs in film, television, and entertainment technologies empower, shape and advance opportunities for Canadian creators and entrepreneurs working in screen-based industries. Learn more at

About Bell Media

Bell Media is Canada’s leading content creation company with premier assets in television, radio, digital and out-of-home media, including 35 television stations that are part of the CTV and Noovo networks; 26 specialty channels, including sports leaders TSN and RDS; bilingual TV and streaming service Crave; the iHeartRadio Canada brand encompassing 215 music channels, including 103 radio stations in 58 Canadian markets; and the Astral out-of-home advertising network. Bell Media is also a partner in Montréal’s Grande Studios, Just for Laughs and Dome Productions, one of North America’s leading production facilities providers. Bell Media is part of BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE), Canada’s largest communications company.1 Learn more at
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