The best example is the Just for Laughs Festival, which will be held from July 17-26. It might seem ridiculous, but I think the way we see things and laugh at them has changed. We’re now influenced by Monty Python-like dark humor, minimalist Eastern European poetry (last year’s Slava’s Snowshow was brilliant), while still enjoying old American comedy. It’s all about mixing these cultures together to create something original that you can’t find anywhere else. The event is actually the second largest comedy festival in the world.
Roberto Benigni recently presented Tutto Dante, a public lecture of Italian excerpts from Dante’s Divine Comedy. Can that be considered comedy? Well, I think so. It’s a little more serious, yes, but it still reflects our need to express ourselves through words. Just for Laughs is also just for words – no need for live music or fireworks in any of these shows. People simply talk, and share their own personal views on the world, whether they’re big names or newcomers to the comedy scene from Quebec, Europe or the United States.
Check out this year’s program on Just for Laughs’ website.
My picks? I’ll definitely want to catch Whoopi Goldberg, whose impressive resume includes a Grammy, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Tony. She will host her own special gala, as will Bill Cosby, another not-to-be-missed legend of American comedy who talks about the funny events of our everyday lives.
And if you feel like doing something slightly different, try out the Nasty Show. It’s the festival’s best kept secret: a special performance with mordant comedians who don’t quite appreciate what’s politically correct.