In a small room at Le Bordel, a comedy club that normally hosts French-speaking comedians, a crowd of sweaty members of the press gather. Some are famous, some hope to be, but they’re all here on Just For Laughs’ invitation. Some chat, some sip the beer or wine provided courtesy of a drink ticket included with the invite, others play with their phones, but all are waiting for the night’s event.
For the first time, Just for Laughs offered an invite-only preview of the Nasty Show to members of the press. All braved the 30+ heat and humidity to crowd into that tiny room, everyone trying to speak over everyone else who was in turn trying to speak over the club’s background music. With that many people in one room, the club’s air conditioning proved useless but no one seemed to care as announcements were made and Mike Ward took the stage.
Mike Ward is hosting the Nasty Show for the second year in a row, replacing the Pitbull of Comedy Bobby Slayton who will be performing at the show instead. The preview featured Ward and “Prozac with a head” comedian Brad Williams.
True to the tradition of Nasty Show hosts, Ward started his opening set with some self-deprecation, talking about how he fucks like an old man and wants a woman who’s “legal but not [legal] everywhere.” Turning his attention to the audience, Ward did a bit on dick pics, managing to coax one man near the front to disclose how many he’s sent. When the man in question said “20,” he, not Ward became the subject of applause.
Ward then tackled what the late George Carlin would have called “the turd in the punchbowl” – the issue that everyone had at the back of their minds but were too polite to bring up.
On February 24, 2016 Mike Ward appeared before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal following a complaint regarding a joke he made about a kid with a disfiguring facial condition. Over a dozen comedians showed up on the day of his testimony to show support. Though the verdict isn’t expected until August, Ward took the cavalier attitude one would hope for, boldly telling all present that if he was going to get in trouble for this joke, he was going to tell it as much as possible in as many languages as he can.
Ward told the joke, which turned out to be nowhere near as offensive as the reports on the Human Rights’ complaint suggest. The joke had nothing to do with the fact that the child was disfigured and more to do with the fact that the kid is also deaf. The child’s dream was to sing for the Pope and he got his wish but being deaf he was not able to tell – as per the joke – if he was off key. It was this and not the fact that the kid is disfigured and was dying at the time that Mike Ward was making fun of, and the crowd at the preview responded with laughter not outrage.
Next to take the stage was Brad Williams, a man the late great Robin Williams dubbed “Prozac with a Head.”
Brad is a sight to behold, most conspicuously because he’s a dwarf with more energy than most big people. He quickly won the audience’s affection by starting his set with a joke about Canadian politeness. Apparently a heckler in Edmonton apologized to him after a show for comparing him to a Leprechaun. As Canadians, we love to make fun of ourselves and take pleasure in jokes that are at once critical and complementary. This was no exception. Though the bulk of his comedy is about his trials and tribulations being a dwarf, he peppered his routine with dick jokes.
Though he only had limited time for his set, Williams surprised everyone by saying that he was having such a good time and wanted to continue. The audience was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and egged him on with shouts and applause.
Williams then talked about how tough Canadians are, citing the behaviour of our hockey players who keep playing despite bloody faces and missing teeth. He went on about how great a contrast it is to his fellow Americans whom he claims have the motto “strive to be a victim.” As an example, he cited a guy who brought a therapy chihuahua onto a flight he was on for “stress reasons.” Williams rightfully pointed out that a stress dog shouldn’t look more nervous than the human who needs it.
One of Williams’ last jokes was a beautiful jab at presidential candidate Donald Trump, a man he called “so orange he comes Cheeto dust.”
Williams and Ward killed for by the end of the hour-long preview most had forgotten the heat of the room as all were laughing so hard. It bodes well for the Nasty Show, which is going on from July 20th to 24th in the much-better-ventilated-venue Club Metropolis with show times to suit early birds (7 p.m.) and night owls (9:30 pm).
If this is just a preview, the main event will be glorious.
* Tickets for The Nasty Show are available through hahaha.com