10 must-see shows at Just For Laughs Toronto 2013
Just for Laughs in Toronto is pretty stacked this year. Family Guy Live. Aziz Ansari. Sarah Silverman. 42 other killers. Questions? Follow me as I walk you through the star-studded line-up...
The Pass System
Rather than selling tickets to individual shows, they're selling five different passes, ranging from a Base Model Pass at $69 (4 credits, one headliner, nosebleeds) to a Deluxe Model Pass at $299 (4 credits, all three headliners, premium seats). Wait, what? Credits? I'll explain.
Let's say you want to see Bill Burr:
Step 1: Reserve a seat online. This will burn one of your four credits.
Step 2: Go to the show.
Step 3: While you wait for Ol' Billy Redface to strike up, Check-in to the event using Facebook's location services and your credit will be added back.
Show sold out? Never fear! Add the show to your Wishlist. If enough people add Ol' Billy Redface to their Wishlist, the JFL pantheon will add another show or move him to a bigger venue worthy of his genius.
Still unsure about how all this works? Click here for more details. While a bit confusing initially, this system allows you to see an unlimited amount of shows because you can always get your credit back.
On to the acts!
SEPT 28 / FAMILY GUY / SONY CENTRE / 7PM & 10PM
People are almost always disappointed with the movie adaptations of their favourite books, and I think that's because nothing can match the rich palette that our imagination paints with. With that in mind, when I attend this live reading accompanied by a 40-piece orchestra, I'm going to shut my lids and let my mind's eye do the animating. Book early to avoid disappointment!
SEPT 20 / SARAH SILVERMAN / SONY CENTRE / 10PM
Sarah's seen it all. Early in her career, she was a writer for SNL. Then, she had her own show on the Comedy Network. Hell, she was even on the Larry Sanders Show. Many know her from her video, "I'm Fucking Matt Damon." I like her because she genuinely doesn't seem to care what people think, and in my opinion, that's when the real comedy rises to the top.
FRI SAT 27 / AZIZ ANSARI / SONY CENTRE / 7PM & 10PM
There's a saying that we get recognized in public for the disciplines we practise in private, and Aziz is the perfect example of that. Thirteen years ago, he started out on the open mic scene while he was attending NYU. In 2005, he was put on Rolling Stone's Hot List for stand-up comedians. The next year, he won the Jury Award for Best Stand-up at HBO's US Comedy Arts Festival. Then, he spent a few years on MTV with sketch troupe Human Giant. Things got even better when NBC came calling with the show Parks and Recreation...you get the idea. Dude's unstoppable right now.
Here are the five shows that I'd suggest you check out. If you have any questions, comments, or violent disagreements, let's hash it out in the comments section!
SEPT 21 / BILL BURR / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 7PM & 930PM
Forgive my bias, but this is the real headliner of JFL42. He got his start in Boston, put together a nest egg, travelled to New York, and ate spaghetti and bread for dinner every night while he followed his dreams. In all honesty, his one-man Monday Morning Podcast is more entertaining than 90% of the manicured, laugh-tracked stand-up specials you'll see on television.
Why do I love him so much? Awhile back, some comedians found out that they could shock the audience into laughter by using semi-funny, but controversial, material. Burr, on the other hand, is only controversial because he says what's truly on his mind. Case in point, check out the above clip where he heckles the audience for 12 minutes and wins them over.
SEPT 20 / ANTHONY JESELNIK / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 930PM
In 2009, he became a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. When they found his stuff too dark, he didn't change one bit. In fact, it's his dark side that helped him put his stamp on the uber-competitive Roast of Donald Trump. How good was it? Comedy Central got him to do two more roasts, a stand-up special, and even gave him a development deal which you now know as the Jeselnik Offensive. Like Silverman, he just doesn't care, and it's what I love about his stuff. Jump to 1:24 for his Shakespeare joke. If you laugh at 1:46, we're on the same page.
SEPT 19, 22, 27 / CHRIS LOCKE / VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Most headliners can make you laugh, but there are a rare few that can make you double over and hold your stomach; Chris Locke's one of those guys. If that wasn't enough, stand-up isn't the only place Locke shines. He actually started out doing YouTube videos, and it's the reason why that he's going on a rampage in his new role on MTV. It's the perfect fit for Chris because it will help him build an audience with the market that's about to enter the 18-35 cash cow demographic. If I could only see three shows at JFL, Chris Locke's would be one of them.
SEPT 26 & 27 / HANNIBAL BURESS / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 930PM (26th) & 7PM (27th)
At 29, Hannibal Buress has put together an enviable CV, making appearances on Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien, not to mention writing for SNL and 30 Rock. Hannibal's my kind of guy because he simply states the truth on stage.
SEPT 25 & SEPT 26 / JOHN MULANEY / QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE / 7PM (25th and 26th)
I first heard about Mulaney from a fellow comic who named him his favourite up-and-comer on the scene. When I checked out the above clip, I was sold. His manicured style reflects his English Lit. degree from Georgetown. I love the way he describes everyday situations from the perspective of a wide-eyed, confused child that's and not afraid to ask questions. Oh, and if you get a chance, check out his Donald Trump bit!
SEPT 19, 20, 21, 23 / MARK LITTLE & KYLE DOOLEY / COMEDY BAR / 7PM
Mark Little and Kyle Dooley, are, ugh, they're so good. If I had to pick only three shows to watch at JFL, this would be one of them. You may know them from their sketch troupe's stint on Comedy Central, PicnicFace. First of all, Mark's one of the best stand-up's in the world right now. Oh, and he has a Masters in Theatre. The last time I saw Kyle, he destroyed at Bad Dog Theatre's spoof of the Walking Dead. Put these guys together, and they're indestructible.
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, walks you through the up's and down's (they're mostly down's, really) in my quest to become a killer comic in Toronto.