Last night, two of the world’s most beloved comedians, Jerry Seinfeld and Gad Elmaleh, teamed up for a gala comedy evening, in celebration of Just for Laughs Montreal’s 35th Anniversary. This was Seinfeld’s first appearance at JFL, since 1989. The capacity audience waited patiently outside for up to an hour, due to heightened security at The Bell Centre. Their wait was well worth it.
When Seinfeld and Elmaleh hit the stage together for the opening, it wasn’t easy to tell them apart. Both comedians are slim and energetic, both similarly attired in navy business suits. Graciously, Seinfeld allowed Elmaleh—who once lived in Montreal— to headline the evening. In retrospect, this may not have not been the best arrangement, since Seinfeld’s comedy was in such peak form, almost any other comedian would pale in comparison.
Morocco-born Elmaleh,who attended university in Montreal, has long been referred to as The French Seinfeld. The two first met and became good friends, when Elmaleh dubbed the lead character in the French version of Seinfeld’s The Bee Movie (2007). Since then, Elmaleh has been steadily carving out an English career, in addition to his worldwide success in French. Since the charismatic performer’s sold-out English debut at last year’s JFL, he has been touring across the U.S. with Seinfeld; his ease and pronunciation have noticeably improved. Much of Elmaleh’s English humour springs from his American culture shock and his efforts to learn their idioms. “Browsing! Americans have words for everything, even for doing nothing.” “Let me ‘double check’? In Paris, they don’t even single check.”
Seinfeld’s immediate command of the cavernous venue transported the crowd to a comedy club. His monologues were crisp and precise, his phrasing smooth and nuanced. “Everyone’s life sucks. Your life sucks, my life sucks… maybe not as much.” “Food and sex occupy 99% of your brain. The other 1% is responsible for everything you accomplish in life.” It was no coincidence that Frank Sinatra’s music played before the show. After decades of success, Seinfeld has rightfully earned that same good natured swagger. While the youthful 63 year-old playfully laments his marriage and family, it’s pretty obvious he’s never been happier.