Festival Time in Montreal – JFL Nasty Show
This was the year. The first real summer when Montreal was fully re-opened after a 2+ year pandemic, numerous lockdowns and lots of take-out, Mobtreal no different than everybody else, was coming out of the house again.
Like many small businesses, entrepreneurs and hustlers, The Mob had to regroup, rethink and start again.
So of course, we applied for media access to as many festivals, concerts and outdoor events as we could to get the ball rolling again.
This year was special for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, we’d be back to our roots covering the Just For Laughs Festival, plus this year we would be producing a comedy show at the Zoofest Comedy Festival, The CANFRAN Comedy Show. You can read more on that here.
This year would also be the 40th anniversary of Just For Laughs.
The first time I covered JFL was 12 years ago. I remember lil ol’ me being brought to the Hyatt Hotel by Paul Ash, meeting Kim Dupigny and Andrew Albert, sitting on the rooftop talking about the shows we saw and the comedians we chatted with. As a self-determined, brand new comedy blogger… It was all very exciting!
At that time, I remember feeling on top of the world. I was with the people I wanted to support, promote and cover most of all… comedians. Since then, I’ve been on a personal mission and professional journey to continually improve conditions in the Canadian comedy industry. For more information visit https://redfedoracomedy.com.
Flash forward 12 years and here I find myself at a Just For Laugh Festival that is not the same.
Now of course – things must change and evolve. I have changed and grown. Even the Hyatt, which is now the DoubleTree by Hilton, has changed drastically. It’s just not the same, however I’m flexible and positive, but still, I did not think it would play out the way it did.
This particular year, with the grand re-opening after the pandemic – I kind of expected more. Especially being that it was JFL’s 40th anniversary.
Over the twelve years I’ve been covering the festival, the ‘art’ aspect has been increasingly forgotten, or perhaps less nurtured, specifically on the street level. This year it was the most visible. Not to say that there wasn’t any and also, forgiving the logistical challenges after a pandemic pause and what the new rules are etc. etc… I was still left feeling a little underwhelmed.
Since its roots, when the festival was the ‘Montreal Just For Laughs Festival‘, it’s been palpable that since the introduction of streaming channels sponsorships and the sale to Howie Mandel & ICM Partners the festival itself has pivoted to its new identity, an International Comedy Festival.
With this transition, there have been some observable changes, and some sacrifices, to make way for streaming giant interests and international industry presence.
All that said – I was very happy to get my media to pass from JFL after a 2-year hiatus. My last experience at the festival as media was not the best.
The most drastic change from the sale and the years since has been a change in policy where no one, not even media invitees, was permitted to take pictures during a show.
Now, don’t get me wrong, nobody wants bad pictures of themselves on the internet or even disturbing the show with your blue light from your phone – However, as ACCREDITED media, I would hope to get the benefit of the doubt.
But these are the new rules and criteria for the Just For Laughs Festival.
As a member of the media, It’s a bit limiting, but like I said, I’m flexible and positive.
This year, I was pleased to see the New Faces of Comedy: Canada was still on and was even happier to see comedians I’ve seen perform since open mic nights are now on JFL stages and being recognized for their art. It’s such a nice feeling.
Now the one HUGE difference between this year and every other year I’ve covered the festival is a day job.
I don’t recommend it unless you have to.
During the pandemic, I had to bend the knee and get a job as my business went down. This limited my exposure to that potential art and street fare we all love to go and experience. It was challenging working by day and feeling like you are playing catch up by night.
Living the dream!
The first thing I did was check out The Nasty Show at MTelus. Now THAT felt like old times.
I got to the media scrum with no time to spare! I was able to grab some pictures and settle in for a night of comedy that was long overdue.
The show was hosted by Big Jay Oakerson, featuring Josh Adam Meyers, Liza Treyger, Robert Kelly, Sophie Buddle and Yamaneika Saunders.
Miss Saunders took the cake. I remember her from a few years ago and she did not disappoint. All I have to say is that it is Barbie’s fault and seriously where is Ken’s dick?! I’ve always asked this question. Shout out to Canadian comedian Sophie Buddle
It felt like home being able to laugh out loud, with no mask, big smiles and the regular people turning around looking at me because I’m laughing at what is perceived as a misogynistic/racist joke. Just like old times. Again, why do people go to the Nasty Show and get offended? Especially in the time we live in now where no one can take a joke about anything without getting “cancelled” (which by the way is bullshit) or being assaulted on stage and even off.
People, these are just jokes.
I love Jay’s bit while warming up the audience on just this topic. It almost makes me mad that they have to do this like a disclaimer because people are just too PC. The overall mood and vibe of the room was energetic and anticipatable. Once everyone was warmed up, inhibitions had been dropped and the fear of COVID was forgotten, we are laughing and it was fantastic!
Great way to kick off the festival.
I had the awesome pleasure of interviewing Rick Mercer for his Just For Laughs show, Comedy Night In Canada. What a great feeling to be able to do an interview with someone I’ve watched my whole life and highly respect at their craft. Now whether or not he thinks the same, is another question.
I also got to interview Dave Merheje, a comedian I’ve watched grow over the past 10 years. His success in the past years are proof of what hard work, dedication and perseverance can do.
What’s next? Part 2 of Summer in Montreal – JFL Originals: comedians I’ve seen come into their own and now will be able to hear on the radio. Stay Tuned.
I have to say thank you to Just For Laughs for mentioning Andrew Albert among the many comedians we’ve lost over the last 2 years. Rest in Peace Buddy.