Tuesday, August 01, 2017

GALA TO REMEMBER


I'm slowly, very slowly, coming down from last night's gala, Montreal: An Intervention, which turned into one of my favourite Just for Laughs nights ever. As previously noted, I was a last-minute addition to the bill, but am grateful the chips fell the way they did.

For starters, I got to room with very funny, supportive, friendly guys who made loosening up for the occasion an easier matter.


Speaking of loosening up, my introduction was given by "The Bachelor"-winner (and Montrealer) Vanessa Grimaldi, who told me a minute before going on that she'd say my name, wait for me and we could give each other a quick hug and pecks on both cheeks (she demurely stipulated "Not on lips"). I was able to roll with the pretty unexpected format and got a laugh for my awkardness (as is my wont) off the top, setting the stage for what was a really fun and fancy-free set. So good show, Vanessa.

The audience was very giving, the staff were great, the comics were fun, and the 2017 Just for Laughs Festival was closed out in style.

Thanks very much to the festival for letting me be a part of it all. When I was offered the gig 10 days ago the part of me that says "Don't do it, you won't be ready in 10 days" was squirming away in my brain. Very glad I denied ol' Squirmy the last word. It was fun. Probably a moral in there somewhere.



Oh, and added bonus, my wife bypassed the babysitter option and brought our 7-year-old daughter to the show (our boy is at camp). Her favourite act was the choir at the end. She didn't get many jokes (thankfully, in my case...can't believe the first time she sees me live is when I'm wheeling out the "trigger warning" bit). But I'm glad she's seen me at a high point.

Happy 375th Birthday, Montreal. Thanks for inviting me to the party.






Friday, July 28, 2017

LAST MINUTE NOTICE, 375 YEARS IN MAKING


Well, I haven't been living up to my resolution to keep regular updates, having neglected to mention gigs everywhere from Kingston, Ontario to Hobart, Tasmania (Australia!).

But what the heck, I'll mention this one:


I was asked to do some writing for this Just for Laughs gala. It was going well. And then I got a call from the head producer. I'd assumed it was on more matters of punch-ups and scripting meetings but it basically boiled down to, "Want a spot on the gala?". This was on July 22nd, the gala is July 31st.

Man, less than 10 days notice... which is probably a new record for me getting last-minute bookings on this festival (but possibly not, I've had a few similarly close calls at this point). Not to mention it's the closing gala celebrating our city's 375th birthday which means (a) it's a pretty high-profile event and (b) it's a themed gala, meaning my jokes have to bear some relevance to the topic of Montreal.

Long story one sentence longer, I was pretty blind-sided and panicked and totally blanked on any relevant material I had to offer.

But I said 'yes'.

Have spent the week working a set out, have three more shows scheduled for practice before big gala Monday.

It's a kooky business. But kind of fun, too. And I can think of worse problems than being on JFL's radar, even if it's only last-minute in this case.

Off to reflect on life in the big (and old) city.

And here are details on the show:

http://www.hahaha.com/en/show/montreal-intervention

It's a good 'un!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION...


...to post news on this site more than once a year. Maybe in 2017 we'll crack double-digits!

First news of the year:



A strange yet compellingly clever man approached me to say that the legendary Emo Philips is coming to Montreal to perform at the Comedynest from January 19th-21st.

I was also informed that I will be opening for him, which I had the pleasure of doing this past Just for Laughs Festival. That's the sort of thing that I would have posted in 2016 if I was more responsible.

But better late than never. Hurry to www.comedynest.com to reserve for a great, weird wonderful show.

And check for my next post, sometime before 2018 (promise!).




Thursday, May 05, 2016

TUESDAY IS T.O.-ESDAY

My Toronto junket begins Tuesday next week. Here’s where I’m gonna be:

Tuesday May 10th-Sunday May 15th: 
Headlining Absolute Comedy Toronto every night (2 shows on Saturday)


Monday May 16th:
AltDotComedyLounge at the Rivoli at 9pm (my first spot there in waaaay too long)


Tuesday May 17th:
The Debaters at the Showplace Performance Centre in Peterborough, Ontario.
Debating against all-star Dave Hemstad on the topic of “Is Rejection Good for You?”
(I’m saying it’s not good, and you’ll agree if you try to get tickets, ‘cause this show’s sold out)

Then home.

So that’s a fun bunch of shows. Maybe at one of them, I’ll see YOU!



Wednesday, April 06, 2016

SNOWBOUND IN O-TOWN


The flurries are flurrying in Ottawa now, a short hour or two after Mark Anthony Sinagoga and I have returned from our grocery run. He and I are hosting and headlining, respectively, all week at Absolute Comedy in Ottawa.

Hopefully people will brave the elements and come enjoy a good show either tonight, Thursday, two shows Friday, two shows Saturday, or Sunday.

A great way to celebrate Canadian Spring, when April (frozen) Showers lead to May (dead) Flowers.

Monday, July 20, 2015

JUST FOR LAUGHS DELUGE


10 days ago my plans for this coming week were to hand in a writing assignment and figure out when our family should go see Ant-Man.

Today, I received this schedule for all the shows I just got booked for at Just for Laughs this week:

Saturday July 18th 2015
Midnight Surprise
(already did this one, it was fun)

Monday July 20th 2015
Comedy Night in Canada 10:30pm at Montreal Improv
Montreal Show 11:30pm at Wiggle Room

Tuesday July 21st 2015
JFLOL 7:30pm at Newspeak
Comedy Night in Canada 10:30pm at Montreal Improv
Alternative Show at midnight at Katacombes

Wedesday July 22nd 2015
Talk of the Fest, recording for The Comedy Network, at 10pm at Club Soda.

(Tickets all available at www.hahaha.com.)

So that's 6 shows in front of me all of a sudden.
Just a crazy week in the life of a Montreal comic.





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

REFLECTIONS ON THE HAPPIEST OUTCOME OF MY FRINGE SHOW



(or "HOW I MADE PEACE WITH THE HOLOCAUST")

My Fringe Festival show was inspired by my experience in 2004, when I closed a Just for Laughs gala set with a holocaust joke, and 3 out of 3 critics panned it in  the next morning’s Montreal Gazette. Having it quoted in the paper under the “Worst Joke” heading was not pleasant. Seeing this verdict in print made people, including members of my own family, draw the conclusion that I had bombed at the gala. At the very least, it seemed I had done a very bad thing to earn the press’s unanimous condemnation. Fortunately, this was before internet shaming became a popular bloodsport, and the incident had no real impact on anything. But in my heart it lingered as an aching memory. I felt that, by any objective measure, I screwed up. To the point that, afterwards, any mention of Auschwitz would make me feel sad inside (I know, right?).

I’d had the idea for years to perform a little video deconstruction of the incident, pulling the experience into the spotlight to have a little fun making fun of myself, the event, and even the press reaction. Then I’d spend the rest of the show running out the clock with some of my more controversial stand-up.

This year, I finally went ahead and did that show. And something interesting happened between my discomfort revisiting the video (and reviews) and presenting them in front of an audience eight times. At long last, I was forced to face the truth about the whole scandal.

The joke worked. 

It became obvious from the first couple of shows, when I would plant the idea in the audience’s collective head that they were about to watch a trainwreck of Sheen-like proportions as my Auschwitz bit tanks in front of 2000 people. Then the video would play, the joke would get the laugh, the lights would come up and I’d look out at a bunch of people who seemed unsure what the big deal was. Fortunately, the clip ends with the TV cameras making a ridiculous cut-away to an uncomfortable woman sitting there watching in silence, which most audiences latched onto as the punchline of the video (if not immediately then afterwards when I would make fun of the control room’s decision to seek out “uncomfortable Jewish mom”). Otherwise, the video comes across as totally unremarkable.

Watching this brought out into the light of day, show after show, I very soon came to wonder why I’d ever thought this was a big deal. Or why anybody else would. Certainly by the point in the show where I analyze the three critics’ reactions, they come across way less like proof of an objective screw-up and more like what they always were: three subjective opinions.

Some of my fringe shows were tougher than others. Sometimes the audience didn’t laugh at some of my riskier bits and the resulting silence would get, given the nature of the material, especially cringeworthy. The first night it happened I felt the familiar doubts and heartache return. “That one went too far. That upset some people. I did a bad thing.” 

And then it’d hit me: “Oh, that’s right, that’s what this WHOLE SHOW IS ABOUT. Some people laugh hard at this stuff. Some people don’t like it at all. Who gets the last word on the subject is totally up to you. Go out there and do it again. That’s comedy.”

There’s a lot I love about the show I did. I love that I got to laugh off past critical receptions (besides the Gazette business, the show also puts one ‘Youtube comments’ experience into perspective). I love that the last line of the show consistently blindsided the audience (take that, China). I love that I got to see people laugh at things that are “wrong” (giving hope that the myopic mouse-jockies of the Twitterati have not killed all reason and levity in the human spirit).  And I love the happiest outcome of the show: now when I hear mention of Auschwitz...well, I’ll still be sad, but in the normal “what a barbaric chapter in the annals of human cruelty” sort of way. The holocaust is no longer just about me. 

What a breakthrough!