Comedians are our best social and political critics, our first line of defense against taking ourselves too seriously. It is for this reason that I jumped at the chance to interview Bobby Slayton a.k.a. Yid Vicious, The Pitbull of Comedy. Slayton is a legend in his own right, an old-school insult comic with a raspy take-no-prisoners approach to comedy. Here’s what we talked about:

SG: You’ve hosted the Nasty Show many times in the past. Do you approach it differently every time?

Bobby Slayton: Besides changing my underwear… you know, I’ve been doing it for so long and though I’m not hosting it this year, which is a thrill and a half for me. I can’t tell you how GREAT it is just to be able to go on and do a ten or fifteen-minute set. To answer your original question, I don’t approach it differently. The only difference is – and it’s a big difference – every year I try to have as much new material as I can. You know there’s different comics on the bill, it’s the same people very often but it’s always a different lineup so I’ve got to adjust my material depending on what another comic’s doing. That’s part of being a good host. If I know a comic has a big routine about midgets or whatever, I don’t want to do my midget routine before his, because I think the MC, the host of the show, has to really service the show. It’s your job – like the host of a party – to make everybody comfortable and keep things moving along so that’s the only way I would change things every year. But like I said: this year I don’t have to host it.

They got this new guy Mike Ward and everybody says to me: Aren’t you upset you’re not hosting? No! It’s too much work! For comedy it’s a lot of work. You gotta get up there, you got to warm up the crowd, you gotta get ‘em laughing. By the time you get ’em laughing, you gotta bring out the first guy, you gotta do a minute or two between each comic, you gotta get the audience focused again, you gotta take a break and go back. On a weekend doing two or three shows, by the third show and a couple of glasses of wine you go: Did I just say that joke? Did I say that at the first show? It gets a little confusing.

SG: You’ve done The Nasty Show for many years now and you sometimes participate in the galas. Are there any other Just For Laughs Shows you’d like to do in the future?

BS: Nope! I love the whole festival but they used to have me do the Relationship Show – a lot of the shows they don’t have anymore; Bubble with Laughter, I used to do the Bar Mitzvah Show, you gotta work much cleaner and it’s 90% Jews out there – it’s more Borsht Belt Catskills sensibility. I remember Amy Schumer did it one year and she didn’t do very well. I remember Amy saying to me afterward:

“You know, this isn’t really my kind of crowd. This isn’t really what I do”

And Amy’s great. But those shows I wasn’t crazy about. That’s why I love the Nasty Show so much. People always say to me:

“You’re doing the dirty show this year?”

No, it’s the Nasty Show. The difference is… The Nasty Show is more honest. It lets the comics do what they want. It gives you this ability to not worry about anything. There’s no constraints of television or radio or offending some Bible-belt Christian idiot in Kentucky… and if anybody groans, anybody gets pissed, you get to say: F-you! It’s the Nasty Show! You don’t like it? Go Bubble with laughter! And that was always a joy for me, to do stuff like that. And I think when people come to the show they kinda know what it’s going to be. You go to a James Bond movie and go:

“What are you? Sleeping with that Russian Spy?!”

You kinda know when you watch the Three Stooges that Moe is going to hit Curly in the head with the shovel. You should expect that or you shouldn’t be going to see it.

SG: There’s been a lot of ranting both in politics and in comedy about so-called “political correctness”? How do you feel about all that?

BS: It’s just moronic. It’s always been going on – they just didn’t call it political correctness when I started out. But I was one of those guys, and I certainly wasn’t the first. When I started out in San Francisco in the 70s early 80s there was a big comedy boom and there was a lot of comics. I was in San Francisco and I remember doing a couple of gay jokes and a couple of gay people getting pissed – they weren’t faggot jokes, they weren’t mean, they weren’t AIDS jokes. I would do black jokes and I saw I got a rise out of people and what always pissed me off is they would have a gay comedy night or a black comedy night and you see black comics going:

“White people! White people!”

And I understand they’re minorities and they got a right to do it, but don’t tell me I can’t make a joke about you if you can make a joke about me.

SG: You’re 61 now, do you think you’ll ever retire?

BS: I’ve been doing this for so long, worked in so many crappy clubs, have so many frequent flyer miles on my ass, that I’d love to retire. I still love doing standup, I don’t like the pressure of I HAVE to go somewhere. I gotta take this gig ‘cause I need the money. I don’t know if I’ll ever retire.

See Bobby Slayton at The Nasty Show playing at the Metropolis in Montreal July 20th to 30th. For ticket info, check out the JFL website.

While he might not share the same distaste for Canadian Liberal culture as his onscreen alter-ego Ron Swanson, being a libertarian, Nick Offerman certainly does appreciate the craftsmanship of a good canoe.

Sporting his famously groomed mustache (one that would make even Ernest Hemingway quiver) Offerman began this year’s Talk of the Fest by disseminating the differences between the character made famous on Parks and Recreation and the real Nick Offerman.

But whatever politics makes them different, their mastery of woodworking makes them both modern day renaissance men. During his introduction he held up a ukulele for us to see. It was his newest creation.

NickOffemanOfferman then showed off his mastery in songwriting, performing a little ditty for Canada about the great Canadian manly man. The crowd filled in the chorus. The song was a hit as it listed off iconic names from Canada’s past from Leonard Cohen to Farley Mowat.

And after we moved on to the comdey sets…

This is the Talk of the Fest, after all, featuring many of the great comics from this year’s festival. After going to my first Talk of the fest Last year, I learned that this was the”best of” buffet of comedy taster . A mix of short sets from all over the fest whether clean or crass: Ralphie May, DJ demers, Debra Digiovanni, Nick Thune,  Kyle Radke, Bobby Slalton and Shawn Collins, were part of the 7 o’clock show.

Some of the Highlights were:

DJ Demers talked about problems with bathroom signage and asked why some bars make it so complicated?

Bobby Slaton,who hosts the Nasty Show, took us on a funny routine while shopping with his wife and explained why staring at young woman isn’t wrong.

Nick Thune, a new parent, drove the hospital staff crazy looking for Baby Penises in his wife’s ultrasound.

Shawn Collins had the audience in tears suggesting that we take the two biggest search results “cats” and “porn” and combine them into the largest website ever called “Kitties and” Interesting…let me sleep on that one.

One more thing of note about the show, keeping it clean. As the assembled cast of comics went through their routines it was difficult to stay clean and not scar the children. Many of these comics had been in the Nasty Show at the beginning of the Just For Laughs and had prepped  a little too well for crass. And while a few nasty remarks got by,  everybody was too busy laughing, so nobody really cared.

The evening was capped off by Nick Offerman closing the Talk of the Fest, and although I didn’t love every comic, the evening had moments of brilliance. But it was Nick Offerman’s, cool composure as host and his famous witty dry deadpan humor that made the night remarkably enjoyable.

The Nasty Show kicked off this year’s Just for Laughs Festival at Club Soda last Wednesday. Hosted by comedy veteran Bobby Slayton, and featuring the acts of Ari Shaffir, Derek Seguin, Hailey Boyle, Kurt Metzger and Nick DiPaolo, the eclectic group of acts delivered their nastiest routines to the crowd.

The unsurprisingly male dominated set of performers was surpassed by the refreshing humour of the lone female comedian in the lineup. Hailey Boyle gave her comedy set full of the same fellatio-focused staples of her male counterparts, but with a refreshing, and dare I say nuanced, twist. Smoothly balancing self-deprecation with some quirky boasting, Boyle’s routine felt fresh and in line with today’s comedy style.

The final comedian, Nick DiPaolo, dubbed “one of the best” by host Slayton, came a bit short, loosing the audience at some punch lines that I guess either felt like recycled or dated material. Derek Seguin on the other hand – the only local Montreal performer of the evening – really stole the set with a parental take on nasty, describing his wife’s birth and the limitations of the Quebec healthcare system. In a US-centric line-up, where many of the show’s comedians used US references to commercials and television shows that don’t air in Canada, Seguin’s Quebec embellished set was clearly appreciated by the crowd.

Though we’re not blind to American media up here in Quebec, one thing the show could have benefited from was either more local references, or at least less US-only. After all, you’ve got to know your audience.

All in all, The Nasty Show held up to its reputation and offered, as always, an exciting lineup and plenty of nasty. Looking forward to checking it out again next year, though I hope more acts like Seguin and Boyle are brought to the forefront.

The Nasty Show is kicking off this year’s Just for Laughs Festival, featuring the talents of Ari Shaffir, Derek Seguin, Hailey Boyle, Kurt Metzger and Nick DiPaolo. The show promises to “push the limits of even the dirtiest of minds.” Returning to host is the “Pitbull of Comedy” and one of the self acclaimed nastiest comedians in the business, Bobby Slayton. I had the chance to interview Slayton on his expectations for the upcoming show.

Living up to his, shall we say bold, comedic reputation, Slayton didn’t miss a beat when I began the interview confirming it was in fact Bobby Slayton on the line. “No its Carrot Top, Bobby’s just fucking me in the ass, so he’s kind of tied up right now,” Slayton started. “Is that nasty enough for you?”

What audience do you expect to come to this year’s Nasty Show?

A lot of women have been coming to the nasty show these days. Over the years, the nasty show […] was a real boys night out, which was great. But over the past few years you saw more guys bringing their wives and girlfriends, and then we saw tables of women. It’s great that women appreciate nasty.

Why do you think more women are coming out?

They’re falling in love with me. I’m not a comedian, I’ve become a sex idol. It’s also such a big show. And its not because its nasty, people says to me ‘hey you’re doing the dirty show this year’ well its not the dirty show, its the Nasty Show. The thing about the Nasty Show is that no one gives a shit, it’s just comics. It’s almost the antithesis shows because they could just let loose and not give a shit what people thought, and you could push the envelope. Each comic would try to get more outrageous than the last comic. Now we have so many professional guys we don’t try to top each other, they just do their show.

What brings you back each year?

Paycheques. I don’t get to see my friends, other comedians, very often, because they’re on the road. I don’t get to see them, so that’s one [thing that brings me back each year]. The Moishe Steakhouse, my favourite restaurant. When I’m not working I walk around a lot, and Montreal’s a great town for that. Montreal’s a great city in the summer.

How is Montreal as an audience for comedy?

Well they wouldn’t be doing the festival for thirty something years […] if it wasn’t a great town for comedy. there’s a lot of great towns for comedy, but I’m not sure if they have a festival like this festival. I think Montreal is great for comedy. Maybe it’s the winter, you guys are locked inside all winter.

Why do you think you’re the best comedian to host the Nasty Show

I’m the nastiest comic, and Bill Burr probably wants too much money. Part of my job is not just being funny, but keeping the show moving along. If someone doesn’t have a great set, which rarely happens, I can move things along, and if somebody kills, which always happens, people start chatting about how great, and I’ve got to bring them down a bit as a courtesy to the next comic. It’s not about funny, its the energy in the room. I don’t think they’d have me back if I wasn’t good at it.

What can you tell us about this year’s lineup for the Nasty Show?

Last year was so good, they have to try to top next year, so they’ve put a lot of effort to get this lineup. [They have some returning talents] because last year’s show was so good. I’m not sure what’s going to happen this year, I never know till I get there and see when it happens.

What are your hopes for this year’s Show?

That hookers will come backstage and give me free blow jobs and there’ll be tons of cocaine and cheeseburgers. That won’t happen. Its one of my hopes, but it’s never happened before. And then that there’ll be so many laughs, they’ll come up to me and say ‘Bobby is doing so well this year we’re going to pay him twice as much.’

I thought this would be much easier. Sure. Just For Laughs is a huge, sprawling event, some might say Montreal’s largest festival, a distinction not easy to get in a city known for festivals.

But our focus is shows that feature lesser known comedians with a few of the big shots that have a unique appeal beyond the mainstream. Shouldn’t be too hard to focus in on a few good acts that fit the criteria, right? Wrong.

Turns out the emerging and underground acts, who are performing as part of the main festival and this year, for the first time, in OFF-JFL which is part of Zoofest, are as bountiful and numerous as the gala guys and gals. Our coverage team, comprised of Hannah Besseau, Jerry Gabriel. Chris Zacchia and myself, clearly had our work cut out for us, but we pulled through and now we know at least some of what we plan to check out.

It all starts with the Nasty Show, the fest’s annual below the belt kickoff event. Hannah Besseau already spoke with Bobby Slayton, leader of this year’s Nasty crew that comprised of Ari Shaffir, Kurt Metzger, Haley Boyle, Nick DiPaolo and local Derek Seguin. You can read her, um, interesting interview published today.

Later in the week, we get Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. Now Aziz may not qualify as emerging talent, he’s actually one of the biggest stars in comedy right now, but since I discovered him watching Parks and Rec and later his standup specials on Netflix, for me he’s a web comedian and therefore watching this incredibly funny man perform still counts as indie. Whether that justification holds water or not, this show is bound to hold my funny bone hostage.

Angelo Tsarouchas

The fest’s second weekend is when the Ethnic show starts. This year it’s hosted by Maz Jobrani, a prolific and very funny Persian comedian. I spoke with Angelo Tsarouchas, the show’s Greek representative, Montreal native and LA resident. You can read our discussion, where we touch on everything from the differences between the Montreal and LA comedy scenes to the best bagels in town next week.

In addition to Persians and Greeks, the show also promises Jews and Italians, but alas, the Irish are left out again. As someone who is proudly half Irish (or claimed to be until I had roommates actually from Dublin), I’ve got to say, c’mon JFL, geez, don’t your venues want to sell alcohol? (apparently the Irish perform as part of the British show, but I digress)

stand up strip down
Stand Up/Strip Down (Miss Sugarpuss & DeAnne Smith)

Moving along…the following week, the clothes are coming off, well, not DeAnne Smith’s (at least I don’t think so). You see, Smith, just back in town after reaching the semi-finals on Last Comic Standing, is the Stand Up part of Stand Up, Strip Down. The strip down part? Well, that’s going to be some of the top burlesque performers in the city, people like Miss Sugarpuss, L Diablo and Ruby Rhapsody.

Clothes will also be hitting the floor at Illuminatease, this year’s JFL/Zoofest offering from the Blood Ballet Cabaret. We’ve reviewed the BBC before (myself personally most of the time, it pays to be editor-in-chief) but we haven’t covered this show, their conspiracy show and now I get the chance! If you don’t think that the moon landing, religious conspiracies and celebrity assassinations can be made sexy, BBC begs to differ and their “family of dysfunctional yet lovable burlesque and circus artists” are here to prove you wrong.

Speaking of taking off your clothes, I’ve never wanted to see Lewis Black naked, but I have always wanted to see him perform live. This forever angry and funny man and Daily Show regular will be performing The Rant is Due in Montreal and I, for one, would like to see what he owes us.

And just who will be the Talk of the Fest this year, why it’s Nick Offerman, or at least he’s the one hosting the show with that name. Another Parks and Rec star, who’s also a published author and does run a wood shop, is returning to the stage and inviting some of JFL’s top talent to join him. He’s supposed to be quite like his character Ron Swanson, so I wonder what meat-intensive Montreal restaurants he’ll visit when in town.

Well, that wraps up only some of what’s out there in this year’s Just for Laughs festival. For the full schedule, please visit and keep checking FTB for our coverage.