This is not happening. Well, actually, it did happen and it was quite funny, that was just the name of the show. After a night of catching just some of what OFF-JFL had to offer, we settled in to Café Cleopatre for the final show of the evening, the aforementioned This is not happening hosted by Ari Shaffir.

Just like you might expect from a nightcap, it was time to hear some stories. In this case, stories of childhood.

This wasn’t your typical standup show. Shaffir gave his guest comics the task of telling real long form stories and turning them into a comedic routine. Each night had a theme every comic needed to follow and this time the theme was either childhood or family.

It was a very interesting experiment to witness. On one hand, standup is such a free flowing, on the spot art form and this involves sticking on topic, albeit a broad one. On the other hand, breaking the mould is something standup comics and anyone who is good at improvising do anyways and succeeding in this format surely involves breaking the standup mould.

Greg Proops This is not happening OFF JFL
Greg Proops

Overall, the comics this Tuesday evening at midnight adapted well to the format. The standouts were Shaffir, who set the tone with his tale of going from rich to poor as a kid and Greg Proops of Whose Line is it Anyways fame who spoke of hooking up with the wrong crowd thanks to his first job as a pizza delivery boy.

The highlight of the evening for the audience was clearly Al Madrigal, known for his work on The Daily Show and his own standup specials. His performance did meet the theme of a story about family and was quite funny, but it was also a part of his solo act which I had seen earlier the same evening (and Jerry Gabriel reviewed). There was also a brief return visit from Brody Stevens, whose show we had just left to come to this one on time.

This was a good end to the evening and an interesting concept that worked. There are no more presentations of this show in the festival, but expect a TV version of it in the fall.

* photos by Chris Zacchia

Al Madrigal wants you to know that he is the result of assimilation. He is a third Generation Mexican American who can barely speak a word of Spanish, but actually listening to him you’d think he is from Arizona.

His nasally voice and straight face delivery makes him naturally funny as a fake news correspondent on The Daily Show. Since he was recently added to the Comedy Central show’s line up he has brought a humorous take on American culture and been able to show how an assimilated American can act just like a “real” American.

You can barely tell them apart. And really that’s his point; American culture is a collection of diverse cultures that have become a life filled with homogeneous monotony that needs to be mocked.

Before this gig, Al Madrigal had been getting acclaim for his stand up work. Recently, he was knighted Best Stand up Comedian at the HBO/US College in Aspen.

One thing Al Madrigal does well is to show the folly of systems. I suppose that is because he has never really fit into the system, being classified un-American but being unable to identify with any marginalized ethnicity He is a social order comic exposing many of the problems inherent in that order

Although I was waiting for him do this famous routine the Maid is on Las Drugas, a story of his college days, I still laughed at his new material, especially his story about the day he found out he was a Mexican comic when he was put on a lineup featuring only Mexican comics.

Another highlight was when he did some family-focused humour, telling us about when he wasn’t allowed into his daughter’s ballet dress rehearsal while the creepy lighting guy was.

While packing a punch with many jokes, including some controversial ones, there were a few silent moments. Still, most of his jokes hit hard and home and many dealt with his identity crisis which we learned is because Al Madrigal’s apparently Mexican Ameircan?

Al Madrigal performs as part of OFF-JFL until July 26th. For tickets, please visit

* Photos by Chris Zacchia