This summer, from July 19 to 29, hilarious Robert Kelly is back at Just for Laughs Montreal’s “The Nasty Show”, bringing his edgy humour to the fest’s 35th anniversary. Mobtreal had the chance to catch up with the gracious and affable comedian, who was briefly in town.
Mobtreal: It’s been about 10 years since your first Just for Laughs Montreal festival. What do you remember about that first time?
Kelly: I guess it has been that long (laughs)! I was scared— I was just so excited to be here! I was doing “The Nasty Show” with Louis CK, Nick Di Paolo (and others) and I thought, I can do this. “The Nasty Show” is a good fit. I remember Louis CK and I walked around downtown for an hour—we bought apricots. But I was really petrified for the Gala… I bought a suit in the mall downstairs (from the Hyatt). I never wear a suit. It was the worst decision of my life (laughs). It turned into one of the greatest moments of my life.
Mobtreal: In a 2013 interview, you talked about the camaraderie among comedians at JFL, saying, “This is our summer camp.” Does it still feel that way to you?
Kelly: Absolutely— I still get excited to be here! Look, I’m not here for my career. I’m here because I love it! It’s great to see the other comedians, but also the people who run the festival. People like Bruce (Hills) and Zoe (Rabnett) are friends, after years of working together. If JFL is summer camp, then the festival people are the counsellors (laughs).
Mobtreal: You’ve said about the fourth floor of the Hyatt Hotel (the festival epicentre), “The funniest people on Earth—they’re in this bar.” You’re at the top and work with top comedians; does anybody geek you out?
Mobtreal: On July 27, you’ll be recording “You Know What Dude,” your enormously popular podcast, at JFL. What can audiences look forward to?
Kelly: Lots of podcasts have themes, like technology or politics. The theme of my podcast is, “Comics just hanging out.” The way comics get together at the festival, that’s how I want them to be on my podcast. Just us being us. I’m very happy to bring the show back to JFL!
Mobtreal: Is it difficult to write nasty material these days? Are people tougher to shock?
Kelly: A lot of people hear comedians insulting each other and think we’re being nasty. The jokes are funny because we love each other. It’s all about having a good time. I never set out to write nasty jokes. I just write about where I’m at. Right now, we’re potty-training our child. I always thought they just do it naturally, like squirrels. Then I find something in the closet (laughs). I think I can talk about anything, as long as I’m being honest and it’s coming from a real place.
Kelly: I’m looking forward to seeing everybody, especially Jimmy (Carr) again. Before I met him, I thought he was just this guy in a suit. Turns out, he’s the most vicious, funniest comedian around—and a really sweet guy.
Mobtreal: Please gush about Montreal. We have low self-esteem.
Kelly: It’s easy, I love this place! I love in this city, how all the malls are connected. I like scurrying around underground, like a mole person. It’s the only exercise I get when I’m here. I’m an American—it scares me how much I love Canada!
Along with “The Nasty Show” and “YKWD, Kelly’s fans can catch “Live at the Village Underground,” available on Netflix.
The Nasty Show
July 19-29, 2017
59 Ste Catherine E.
Tickets: $44.99 to $60.49
You Know What Dude! Podcast
July 27, 4:30 p.m.
Hyatt Hotel, Ovation Room
1255 Jeanne Mance