It’s just a fact that July in Montreal is hot – hot weather, hot people, hot night life – and, you got it, hot comedy. Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival is still way hot at 30 years old, taking over downtown’s Quartier des Spectacles July 10-29 with big-name galas, thematic showcases, solo shows and free outdoor performances…
With all these shows going on, Just For Laughs can keep any comedy lover up all day and night. The galas alone make for an exciting evening – and the Muppets All-Star Comedy Gala (July 26, 7 & 10 p.m.) makes for a truly sensational, inspirational, celebrational show, starring Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and the rest of our Muppet faves.
Perhaps on the polar opposite end of the family-friendly spectrum is the uncensored JFL XXX Gala, hosted by none other than Bob Saget. Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader hosts a gala, as does Howie Mandel, Community’s Joel McHale, the fabulous John Pinette, and Lewis Black is back, grumbling in the funniest way possible about politics in The American Dream? Election Year.
Just like The Muppets, comedians who have made names for themselves in TV and film take the Just For Laughs stages this year too. Think Like a Man star Kevin Hart makes his mark as do Parks & Recreation star Aziz Ansari and writer Chelsea Peretti. Chelsea Handler, who gets this year’s 2012 Comedy Person of the Year Award, tells it like it is and Jim Gaffigan talks about being Mr. Universe (or something like that…).
30 Rock and Saturday Night Live writer Hannibal Buress brings his new show, Still Saying Stuff, to town, MadTV’s Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele mess around, the always-lovable Wayne Brady puts on his one-man show I See White People, and Patton Oswalt and Nick Thune stand up for laughs. Even comedy podcast superstars Marc Maron, of the WTF podcast (July 28 at 9:30 and 11:15 p.m.) and Adam Carolla get in on the act in real life, as does Tony-award-nominated Mario Cantone’s Broadway Laugh Whore.
Classic Just For Laughs showcases also celebrate the fest’s long history: Bobby Slayton hosts truly dirty The Nasty Show (dates throughout July), The Ethnic Show (July 19-22 & 26), this year with host Maz Jobrani and comedians Orny Adams, Godfrey, Rocky LaPorte and Ron Josol.
British Comedy comes on strong with Britcom showcase hosts Danny Bhoy and Jimmy Carr, and all the Aussies in Montreal pack the room for Late Night Down Under. Of course, everyone knows Canadians are some of the funniest people around, so don’t miss comics Jeremy Hotz, Sean Cullin, Debra DiGiovanni, DeAnne Smith, Dave Merheje and many others, especially at the Homegrown Show.
Just For Laugh’s free outdoor programming centres around Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté’s Terra Karnaval starting July 14. Street Arts events also include performances from clowns, acrobats, cheerleaders, comedians and more, plus family friendly activities and Just For Laughs Gags screenings, all taking place at Place des Spectacles.
Just For Laughs is also a great way to discover comedians who haven’t made top-billing radar yet: check out the New Faces and New Faces series and catch up-and-coming comedians and off-the-beaten-track performances at JFL offshoot Zoofest, a comedy festival that never fails to have a few audacious surprises up its sleeve – and with a full festival pass going for only $39.99, there’s almost nothing to lose. For a taste, see one of the Best of Zoofest shows throughout the festival as well.
Just For Laughs, July 10-29, 2012