July is a loose, silly time in Montreal, not only because it’s the height of summer holidays, but because long-running comedy festival Just for Laughs, July 10-28, lets some of the biggest names in comedy reign the city’s downtown core…
The comedy festival’s biggest events, and often the most varied in comedic stylings, are the Just For Laughs Galas – this year hosted by Dane Cook, Sarah Silverman, Seth Meyers, Joan Rivers, Eddie Izzard and Montreal’s own Jay Baruchel. The fast-paced showcases, held in the opulent Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts, give comedians, famous and up-and-coming alike, about 10 minutes to share the best material in their arsenal – plus the galas are recorded for TV, so there’s the added bonus of possibly seeing your laughing face on the small screen soon.
Laughs gain further focus at the fest’s solo shows, where comedians let their newest material loose and reprise classic stuff. This year, spend quality time with: Amy Schumer and her dirty thoughts; former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Anchor Colin Quinn and his political humour; Hannibal Buress in a new show and as host of Hip Hop Karaoke; Bo Burnham and his musical, MTV-friendly ways; Scottish comedian Danny Bhoy in new show Dear Epson; sitcom and podcast self-made star Marc Maron, and many more. Also get to know cutting-edge comedians better at the intimate Theatre Ste-Catherine, where Maria Bamford shares her surreal world, Tig Notaro gets amazingly real, You Made It Weird host Pete Holmes stays weird, and South African star Trevor Noah makes a North American name for himself. Over at the equally intimate Mainline Theatre, see what 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander has printed on his hat, and watch his co-stars Scott Adsit and John Lutz do a show of their own.
Just For Laughs is also famed for its themed shows, ongoing for years now, with return guests and new blood. For a taste of the real Montreal, check out the Bilingual Show, with Anglophone comedians trying their hand at French jokes and Francophones telling it like it in English, hosted by Mike Ward. A variety of languages make their way into the ever-popular Ethnic Show, this year hosted by This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ Shaun Majumder, while Hebrew, Jewish tradition and self-perpetuated stereotyping is all comedy fodder at The Bar Mitzvah Show. Or stick with boring old English at the Britcom showcase, hosted by Rich Hall. Not to be missed for shock value alone: The Nasty Show, hosted this year by Bobby Slayton and Jimmy Carr, oddly, or perhaps fittingly, preceded by Date Night: The Relationship Show. And drop in on Talk Of The Fest at Club Soda, where every night a different host, from 30 Rock’s Kristen Schaal to SNL’s Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan, gets breakout stars up on stage to win over new fans.
Along with Just For Laughs headliners, galas and themed shows comes an unscripted improv show from Whose Line Is It Anyway’s Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, comedy competition The New Faces of Comedy, the world premier of Brad Copeland’s feature film Coffee Town, and SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, a witty, steamy send-up of the best-selling book, created by a crack team of Toronto writers and improvisers invading the Centaur Theatre. And see even more comedy, mostly of an 18+ nature and with ticket prices that won’t dig into the beer budget, at JFL sister festival Zoofest, where French and English stand-up, comedic theatrical performances, indie circus acts, and more collide.
Just For Laughs, July 10-28, 2013