Just for Laughs Toronto 2012 Festival preview
The 2012 edition of Just for Laughs (JFL142) is coming to Toronto this September (21-28), and that's good news for all those who couldn't make it to Montreal this year. The festival will be running a skid of shows which will feature some of the world's best stand-up comics, sketch troupes, and...David Suzuki?
JFL is taking an innovative approach this year, incorporating the average audience member into the programming team. It works like this: there is a Base Model Pass at $99 (4 credits) and a Deluxe Model Pass at $149 (8 credits) that will theoretically allow you to see all of the shows you want. Huh? Credits?
Well, when you reserve a seat for a show, you burn a credit. If a show gets 'reserved out' (more reservations are made than seats available), the JFL producers will add a show. Neat, eh? Oh, and if you 'check-in' to the show via social media, your credit will be returned to you, thereby allowing you to see as many shows as you'd like.
That's as simple as I can make it without making your eyes glaze over. Visit the FAQ for more details, and please keep in mind that the venues for these shows are subject to change. Now, on to the 10 shows I'd recommend!
FRI SEPT 21 / PATTON OSWALT / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 190 PRINCES' BLVD / 930PM
Patton Oswalt's done it all, including writing for MADtv, lending his voice for Ratatouille's Remy, and starring in his own HBO Special. He can talk about anything, from materialism to weaning himself off Prozac in anticipation for the Road Warrior wasteland he believes will ensue in 15-20 years. But can he do impressions? He sure can. His impression of a sad boy at 1:25 of the above clip is spot on.
FRI SEPT 21 / REGGIE WATTS / THE MOD CLUB / 722 COLLEGE / 7PM
It's not that he's funny -- a lot of people are funny. And it's not that he's a great musician -- a lot of people are great musicians. What makes the Reggie Watts experience so engaging is that he channels both humour and musicianship, poking fun at pop music itself (1:31-1:38) while executing unique premises like, "Why the hell you got a big-ass purse?"
FRI SEPT 21 / MARK LITTLE / RIVOLI / 332 QUEEN W / 7PM
Don't be fooled by his cardigan and glasses: Mark won Yuk Yuk's Great Canadian Laugh Off in 2009 and he's a founding member of the sketch troupe PicnicFace, which had an amazing show on The Comedy Network. He's beloved by audiences and comedians alike because when he decides to act out, he commits 100% to the character. In my opinion, the only comic at JFL funnier than Mark is Louis C.K (but more on that later).
FRI SEPT 21 / KELLY CARLIN / THE DRAKE HOTEL / 1150 QUEEN W / 9PM
This show is much more than a funny hour, as Kelly Carlin heartfully chronicles what it was like to be George Carlin's daughter. Nothing I write can adequately describe what I mean, so I'll let the clip do the talking.
SAT SEPT 22 / ARI SHAFFIR / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 7PM
Most people know him as 'The Amazing Racist' (an unfortunate moniker) but I first saw him talking to Joe Rogan about Carlos Mencia's martial art, JokeSteal-do. Warning: he's not for the faint of heart, and while many people find him overly offensive, I sure don't. Then again, I'm the guy laughing at Tracy Morgan making fun of people with disabilities, so perhaps my opinion is a bit skewed.
SAT SEPT 22 / DAVID SUZUKI / [VENUE TBD] / 7PM
The truth is, even if he bombs, you have to include him in any list of must-see shows, simply because he's David Suzuki. His style of humour seems to be of the "comparing humans to maggots" variety. The people in the clip seemed to find it funny...
TUES SEPT 25 / PETE HOLMES / REVIVAL / 783 COLLEGE / 9PM
When comedians first start off, they often make fun of what's most familiar to them -- namely, themselves. That said, you can separate the amateurs from the professionals by the insights they have. In the above clip, Pete Holmes aptly describes himself as, 'Fun Dad' which requires a mixture of honesty to notice in private and confidence to execute in public.
TUES SEPT 25 / AMY SCHUMER / THE MOD CLUB / 722 COLLEGE / 730PM
Amy Schumer has the resume that every comic dreams of: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Comedy Central Roast, Opie and Anthony, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. I like her because she's able to execute dirty humour tastefully. By that I mean, Amy is able to talk about rape and sex creatively instead of just cleverly connecting one curse word after another.
THURS SEPT 27 - FRI SEPT 28 / LOUIS CK / SONY CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS / 1 FRONT E / 730PM & 10PM
Once in awhile, a comedian comes along and breaks down a barrier that we didn't even know was there. The first time that I really took notice of Louis was when he angrily described how his daughter was making his life hard. Never before had I heard a father unabashedly call his offspring "an idiot." If you don't laugh at the bit he starts on female communication styles at 1:27, we can't be friends.
THURS SEPT 27 / NERDIST PODCAST w/CHRIS HARDWICK / THE MOD CLUB / 722 COLLEGE / 7PM
You can call Chris a mastermind because he's the brains behind Nerdist.com, a wildly popular hub for all things nerdy (not geeky, nerdy). He was also named one of the most influential people on Twitter by Time Magazine. So yeah, he's doing well. As you'll notice in the above clip, Chris is wonderfully quick on his feet, able to work with whatever's thrown at him. Craig Ferguson was all over the place in the interview, and Chris stayed with him every step of the way.
About the Author: This is Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third-person. My blog, Diary of a Stand-up Comedian, teaches you how to be - and how not to be - a comedian in Toronto.