As “Just for Laughs Montreal” begins its final week, actor-comedian Guido Cocomello, one of the city’s most versatile performers, will be featured at several “JFL”comedy showcases, including the “Homegrown Comics Competition” and “The Montreal Show.” Last week, he appeared at Rachel Feinstein’s “JFL” show. After six years of stand-up, plying his craft and building a solid reputation, Cocomello is on fire.
Performing even once at “JFLMTL,” arguably the world’s foremost comedy festival, is an exceptional honor; a “JFL” stage credit is an acknowledgement that you’ve made it. The yearly event, now expanded to include “ZOOFEST,” “OffJFL” and “JFLPro,” breaks box office records and fills venues across the city, adding new shows at a frantic pace. “JFLMTL” is, above all else, an industry-based gathering. From across the globe, agents, entertainment executives, journalists and talent scouts converge, to discover the next wave of performers. While audiences revel in three weeks of the world’s finest comedy, deals are made and careers launched.
Cocomello is acutely aware of the high stakes. Recently married with a young son, he gratefully acknowledges, “This week is a big test – it could change my family’s life … I’ve never worked so hard for seven minutes in my life.” As a dramatic actor who studied with Mike Nichols at New York’s “New Actors Workshop,” Cocomello is wholly prepared to meet the challenge. “Being at ‘JFL’ is not a fluke. It makes me work even harder; it makes me want to be better.” Along with stage technique and joke writing, Cocomello understands the business of entertainment. “I am selling myself as a whole. I’m selling my jokes and I need you to believe in me. In comedy, you need to commit ten thousand percent.”
Despite recent dramatic film roles and success at Montreal’s “Centaur Theatre,” starring in Vittorio Rossi’s “The Envelope,” Cocomello dreams of stand-up success. “I’ve always wanted to be a comedian; there’s nothing I’ve ever wanted more.” While studying in New York, Cocomello took a class at Caroline’s Comedy Club, but was hindered by a speech impediment. Through his dramatic studies, he overcame this hindrance and now completely owns the spotlight. Six years ago, he took a stand-up comedy class with Joey Elias, and was hooked, once again. “In comedy, on stage, it’s just you and your thoughts … You don’t second-guess yourself. You just deliver.”
Despite the wealth of talent at “JFLMTL,” Cocomello remains confident. “My dad always taught me: Surround yourself with people better than you. Learn from them and elevate yourself to a higher plane.” Cocomello lists David Pryde and Derek Seguin as admired examples, for their “solid work ethics and fearlessness.” Above all else, Cocomello credits his wife and family for helping him achieve his dream. “They are my support system. I tell my wife all the time that I wouldn’t be where I am without her.” Without a doubt, his family will be rejoicing in his success, for years to come.
“The Montreal Show”
July 20 & 21, 11:30 p.m.
The Wiggle Room
3874 St. Laurent Blvd.
“Homegrown Comics Competition”
July 24, 7 p.m.
305 Ste. Catherine St. West
Feature photo credit: Reese Turner