Sunday, July 18, 2010

Comedy Festival in 2010

We went out two nights this past week as part of the annual Just for Laughs Festival, once to a show we regularly attend, Bubbling with Laughter, and once to a show we had not attended before: The Masters.  The former is at Club Soda, hence the name, and features a mix of comedians every year.  The latter features a slate of experienced comics.  So, what did we learn?
  • The Bubbles this year did not contain as much laughter.  Perhaps we were spoiled by the woman who saw the previous show and walked past our line saying it was fair to middling.  But that was a very accurate review.  Some of the comics were very good, and the host, Harland Williams, was quite funny.  But some of the folks just were not particularly funny.
  • We learned that bigger names may actually not be correlated with the funny (of course, we can say that as we did not see the Steve Martin gala where he apparently rocked the house much more strongly than any recent host).  In the two shows, we saw two comics that we had seen on TV multiple times, and both had pretty lousy timing, energy and material.  Both ended their bits seemingly angry at us, when it was clear in both cases that the crowd was fine and that we didn't react that well because of them, not us. 
  • The Masters are more meta.  Several of the comics commented on the art of standup, such as the necessity to move the mic stand or on the standard lines used by African-American comics when a joke fails, "Things are so crazy."
  • We learned to perhaps wait to buy tickets.  Each year, we get blitzed by the Just for Laughs folks to buy tickets early, and we end up doing so.  But then they announce a bunch of acts pretty late, and we have already committed our comedy dollars.  So, we missed Jeff Ross, Rob Cordry, Dom Irrera, and, did I mention, STEVE MARTIN?  Aaargh.  If the usually reliable Bubbling show had been better, I would not have been quite as frustrated.  
  • Just For Laughs apparently also subscribes to: if it is not broken, fix it anyway.  In previous years, the events centered on St. Denis, which is a street with perhaps the most restaurants per block in Montreal or anywhere else.  Lined with trees, just a very nice setting to walk along and see the street performers.  This year, the moved most of it to around Place Des Arts, which kind of makes sense, giving that it is a place for arts and all.  But the main street was St. Catherine, which is known for its sex shops and full contact dance places than it is for a good mix of restaurants.  Oh, and part of the street was ripped up in the classic Montreal style of reconstruction.
Overall, we had a good time, but enjoyed previous fests more, both because we had better shows and because of a better location.

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