Next month, North York Arts will be running “Second Act Seniors” An 8-week ESL theatre program for seniors and adults. Each week, participants are led by instructors to feel more confident in their English speaking abilities. 

With that said, we’re excited to introduce one of the instructors, Stephan Dyer. Along with his partners Juan Cajiao and Isaac Luy, Stephan founded MalPensado, a Spanish speaking comedy club. We spoke to Stephan about MalPensado, comedy as a tool for development, and what he’s looking forward to with Second Act Seniors.

Tell us about yourselves and what you do.
Juan Cajiao, Isaac Luy and I are bilingual comedians and public speaking coaches born in Colombia, Venezuela, and Costa Rica, respectively. In 2014 we founded MalPensando, the only Spanish comedy club in Canada. We’ve also been on TEDx and Comedy Central and performed in 15 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, and Luxembourg. In 2017, MalPensando became a bilingual comedy school and has since helped over 600 people in 5 countries become funny, confident speakers through improv, clown, public speaking and comedy workshops.

Tell us about MalPensado and its impact on the community.
MalPensando gives back to the Hispanic-Canadian community regularly as it is one of our key priorities and core values. Every year we give over $3000 workshop scholarships to charities that help Hispanics better adapt into Canada. We also offer numerous free Leadership workshops on a yearly basis in order to give our community the necessary tools to succeed in today’s Canadian society.  Examples of these workshops are “LinkedIn Workshop To Advance Your Career (For Hispanic Newcomers),” “Resume Critique Workshop For Hispanic Newcomers,” “How To Network Effectively: The Canadian Way,” “The Secrets Behind Getting A Job in Canada,” “How To Be A Master Of Ceremonies,” “Speaking With Confidence,” and coming this winter 2020 “Financial Literacy for Youth.”

How can comedy be used to develop public speaking and other skills?
Comedy is truth and pain. Comedy is basically tragedy plus time. In other words, it’s very therapeutic. When you’re real on stage, when you’re authentic, you connect with people because it’s also happened to them. Typically when something is “relatable”, it’s funny! 

Our 6-week course actually teaches people to conquer the fear of public speaking, make people laugh, and influence any audience! It helps people get amazing presentation skills because we teach you 25 tips and techniques. Instead of me telling you, I’ll just copy and paste one of our student’s testimonials: 

“This was honestly one of the best things I have ever done. I was able to push myself beyond my comfort zone and grow as a person. Prior to this course, I wasn’t very confident in myself. One of the main reasons I joined the course was to overcome social anxiety, and it definitely helped me do that and so much more. MalPensando not only helped me become a more confident public speaker, but a more confident person in general. I am super grateful for the lessons Stephan and Juan taught us. It is definitely a course that impacted my life greatly. I got to meet some amazing people from different walks of life that I would have never crossed paths with if it hadn’t been for this course. I highly recommend this for everyone! It was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.” 

What are you most looking forward to during your Second Act Seniors workshop?
So excited you have no idea. More often than not, I find that seniors are more authentic when expressing themselves. That authenticity is KEY for connecting with an audience and making people laugh because, as you remember, comedy is truth and pain, Often, they’re not scared about being vulnerable and sharing real stories, real failures, or telling it like it is. Their stories will be therapeutic and will inspire people everywhere. 

Second Act Seniors starts on February 4th! Interested in signing up? Visit or call 416-733-9388 x 7067. 

Want to learn more about Stephan and MalPensando? Visit:

Interview by: Rachel Birnberg

Development and Communications Manager