As I was climbing up the stairs into the cozy little attic known to Montrealers as The Wiggle Room, I absolutely had no idea what to expect. I had heard that late night shows were quite different than the earlier ones. I mean, you must have heard of Dave Chappelle just deciding to show up at the Théâtre Saint-Catherine. No one expected that!

So, with the Montreal Show starting at 11:30 p.m., I had every reason to expect that tonight’s show would be something different. Also, if you look at Just For Laughs’ website, you will see that they don’t have the line-up for the show listed anywhere – well, at least when I looked at my iPhone sitting at the Wiggle Room, I couldn’t find anything.

What I knew was this: The Montreal Show used to be a really big part of the JFL fest, but it was dropped for some unknown reason. This year, it’s making it’s grand comeback, hosted by Tim Rabnett. Some of Montreal’s funniest people jumped on the stage today: Morgan O’Shea, Massimo, Jess Salomon, Mike Ward (who also hosts The Nasty Show), David Pryde, Mike Paterson, and Joey Elias!

This is the part where I should say “but wait, there’s more!” But I want to talk about these people a bit before I get to the surprise of the night. I mean, if you’re on Twitter, or if you’ve read the title of this piece, you know what the surprise was anyway.

Tim Rabnett
Montreal Show host Tim Rabnett at The Wiggle Room in Montreal, July 20. Photo by Cem Ertekin

So the deal with such a crowded line-up is that the comedians do not occupy the stage long enough that you could risk getting bored. But also, because they’re there for such a short time, they feel like they need to give you 150%. In a single sentence, I laughed a lot tonight.

Morgan O’Shea talked about his dating life and how he was not really good with second dates. Massimo talked about his magical Italian mother, who can apparently conjure cannolis out of thin air. Jess Salomon shared how it feels to be a Jewish-Arab “who looks like a Saint Patrick’s Day parade.” Mike Ward told a weird story about how xenophobic hatred could save children from pedophiles (Obviously the guy from the Nasty Show does the pedophile joke). David Pryde did a Braille joke about Hooters. Mike Patterson did an impression of his mother’s (I think?) boyfriend George’s impression – even if no one really knew who George was. Then finally, Joey Elias did not tell a single joke, but instead had interesting conversations with members of the audience.

Now, I think that’s what the regular line-up of the Montreal Show is going to be. Although, it was the first night and some of the jokes did fall flat on me. I mean, funny is subjective, right? But apart from that, I still can’t find jokes that mock religions funny – despite being an atheist myself. There are so many other things you can poke fun at. You know? Like, Donald Trump’s a big joke, yet I heard not a single “Trump’s toupée” joke.

Morgan O’Shea performing in The Montreal Show at The Wiggle Room in Montreal, on July 21. Photo by Cem Ertekin

I promised I would say, “but wait, there’s more!” So here it is.

But wait, there’s more!

That’s right! At the second half of the show, the roastmaster Jeffrey Ross took over the Wiggle Room. Ross will be hosting the Roastmasters Invitational: The 2015 World Championship of Competitive Roasting. Apparently, all the comedians that will show up at that event decided to show up at the Wiggle Room.

So, on top of the seven comedians of the Montreal Show, the audience tonight got to see nine more comedians. That’s sixteen in total, and I am currently overdosing on comedians.

So who else showed up? Brian Moses, who wore a confederate flag shirt that had “gay pride” written on it; Jeremiah Watkins, who did an impression of the Kings of Leon lost in the woods; Jesus Trejo, who talked about being an only-child in a Mexican family; Whitney Lee Rice, who did animal noises; Ed Larson, who is the world’s most prolific mediocre roadie; Earl Skakel, who said that “Montreal is to a hockey fan as Israel is to a Jew;” Ashley Barnhill, who is apparently a very awkward single woman; and Tony Hinchcliffe, whose jokes I actually did not find funny, like at all.

Seriously, Hinchcliffe. I found it appalling how easy it was for you to just joke about sexual assault. I mean, perhaps you were trying to make a point about how society finds it acceptable that people who make “great art” to be sexual offenders (he was talking about Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson). But, I get the feeling that you weren’t. I don’t know, I just found it distasteful.

At any rate, the non-surprise part of the Montreal Show was enough all by itself to ensure a great night full of laughter and joy. Keep in mind, these folk are completely 100% made in Montreal. As Joey Elias said, Montreal has the “funniest bunch of bastards” on the planet. So go check ‘em out, will ya?

You can catch the Montreal Show on July 21, 11:30 p.m. at the Wiggle Room. Check for more information.

Also, I was only allowed to take photos in the first 10 minutes of the first set. Soooooooooooooooo…

I’ll admit, Queens of Comedy didn’t live up to my expectations, but it did have some nice surprises.

The show has graced Zoofest for several years now, but this was my first time seeing it. Featuring Eman El-Husseini, Jess Salomon and DeAnne Smith, the show started off a bit lackluster with watered down audience banter from Mike Patterson, the entirely decked out in a king costume host. I’m all about the punny style humour, but this didn’t do it for me.

Eman El-Husseini was first up, and offered a relieving and relevant set, going for the big ones: religion and the Quebec Charter of Values. It was a good start to the show, and El-Husseini definitely knew her crowd.

Montreal local Jess Salomon followed El-Husseini with an eclectic set full of light but raunchy humour. Putting her sexuality on her sleeve and the crowd on the spot, Salomon talked about her experiences of being bisexual, and how people react. Salomon engaged with the crowd, and all in all it’s always nice to see a local on stage.

DeAnne Smith Queens of Comedy Zoofest
DeAnne Smith

DeAnne Smith really stole the show. Wildly animated and quick on her feet, Smith had the crowd pretty much the moment she got on stage and described the “style” of her lanky arms. At one point the lights turned on to the crowd rendering the audience visible to the comedian to which Smith, without skipping a beat, talked about how uncomfortable that visibility was – for both her and the audience.

Without giving it away, I will say I was happy with the end. Not only did it finish on a high note with an incredibly promising comedian, but given the premise of the show being on the classic trope of the King finding his Queen, it did well.

* The Queens of Comedy runs until August 1, tickets available through

* Photos by Chris Zacchia