As one of the most-loved, longest-running shows at Just For Laughs, every edition of The Nasty Show comes with bigger shoes to fill. Not one to shy away from expectations, host Ari Shaffir opened the show—featuring Robert Kelly, Jimmy Carr, Yamaneika Saunders, Godfrey and Big Jay Oakerson — with a bible story, an intriguing, attention grabbing choice to start to off a show that was sure to take the audience even further from God than we were when we started.
The show was full of laugh-out-loud shocking moments – Yamaneika Saunders’ anecdotes about being 39 and single, getting jealous at the romantic dedication of a pedophile who drove 12 hours to see a child on To Catch A Predator, were matched only by Big Jay Oakerson’s disappointment at his daughters’ inevitable failure to turn out as a lesbian and his ruminations on his biggest fear (Hint: It’s not death or public speaking).
Robert Kelly had a lot to say on the subject of aging, from learning to hate your friends to rationing your remaining summers when you realize that you aren’t going to live forever. He says that he has a solid 30 left, and they are rapidly counting down. Considering that in Montreal, summer this year started very late, and has been mostly rain, I’d say that whatever I estimate my own years of remaining summer to be are probably overly optimistic.
Gofrey certainly stole the show in terms of physical comedy. His demonstration-laden observations on the admirable confidence of Creepy Dudes, and ruminations on ‘the one time it must have worked’ was even better than his rendition of Melania Trump. Surprisingly, this was the only set where the current state of American politics came up at all.
Jimmy Carr read most of his jokes, which made him feel a bit less engaged with the audience than the other performers. However, his jokes were much more Montreal-centric than those of the other comedians, so it did feel like more of a personalized performance. Of all the dicks, butts, talk of underage girls, and general Nastiness of The Nasty Show, the only thing that seemed to cross the line for this audience was when Carr made a few jokes at the expense of Montreal patron saint Céline Dion. Stay classy, Montreal!
The spirit of the times nowadays is to police ourselves over sensitive topics.
We’re used to making sure that anything that we say, or that could possibly be construed from our actions, is as inoffensive as possible. Though this is important, it’s also important to remember that we can make fun of ourselves.
In this way, The Nasty Show is surprisingly refreshing. I had almost forgotten that we could flip the script and joke about the negative aspects that connect us, bridging the gap over otherwise untouchable waters. There’s a reason this one’s a classic.
The Nasty Show runs until July 29th at Metropolis as part of Just For Laughs. Tickets available through hahaha.com
* Featured image of Ari Shaffir by Nicolas Abou, courtesy Just for Laughs
In a room in the iconic Monument-National on St Laurent Boulevard, press gathered in anticipation. Festival Season is coming in Montreal and Just for Laughs was ready to announce its long awaited lineup for the 2017 comedy festival.
This year is a special one for Just for Laughs as it marks the 35th anniversary of a comedy festival that helped launch the careers of everyone from Demetri Martin to Amy Schumer. Every year the people behind the festival, including its veterans, do their best to bring in top comedic talent from around the world and give new faces a shot at fame.
This year is no exception.
The biggest names on the ticket this year have to be American comic legend Jerry Seinfeld and French comedian Gad Elmaleh, who is the most beloved comedian in Europe right now. Elmaleh has recently begun doing comedy in English with great success. Seinfeld’s appearance at Just for Laughs will be his first since 1989. For one special night at the Bell Center on July 28th, the two will share the stage in honor of the festival’s anniversary.
Africa’s most successful comedian Trevor Noah will also be performing this year. Since he took over as host of The Daily Show in 2015, he has done some of the most scathingly successful critiques of current events and of the US President and his government of racist, misogynist, classists. If you’ve ever watched any of Trevor Noah’s comedy specials, his style of soft-spoken yet biting social commentary peppered with hilarious impressions promises that any show he’s in will be special.
Writer and Director of Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin Judd Apatow has chosen Montreal as the venue for his new stand-up show which will be recorded live for Netflix during the festival. Transgender actress, model and advocate (plus my second favourite Frank n’ Furter) Laverne Cox will be hosting her own gala, as will SNL veteran David Spade.
The lineup of Canadian talent this year seems to favor comedians from Newfoundland. Among them, we have ranter and political satirist Rick Mercer, who will be hosting a gala. Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes will be hosting Homegrown Comics, a staple event at the festival featuring Canadian up and comers in standup comedy. The only Central Canadian names this year are Howie Mandel and Montreal’s own Sugar Sammy, who is the festival’s special guest.
A smiling Sammy took the podium this morning to express his gratitude to a festival that launched his career so quickly he found himself riding the bus to his own show with his fans back in the day. He jokingly told the press that he’d promised himself he’d take a fancy car to Just for Laughs once he got rich and famous, but ended up taking the metro today due to Montreal construction. His gala will feature international standup comedians.
Just for Laughs veteran Kevin Hart is doing what he can to promote young talent via Laugh Out Loud Network Presents: Just For Laughs Eat My Shorts. The initiative between Hart and Just For Laughs will feature shorts submitted by various filmmakers. Twenty films that speak to a diverse audience will eventually be chosen to stream on the LOL website and a panel consisting of Hart and other judges will select the top five for a screening at the Imperial Theatre. A winner will be selected that night and Hart will present them with a development deal followed by a Q&A session.
The Nasty Show is for me the best part of Just for Laughs. It’s the show where comedians, by their own admission, can let loose and tell jokes without having to worry about offending anyone. The lineup for this year’s Nasty Show features the master of British snark, Jimmy Carr, as well as Godfrey, Robert Kelly, and Big Jay Oakerson. What are suspiciously absent from this lineup are female comedians, though whether this is deliberate or accidental is unclear, though it’s not for lack of talent. Anyone who thinks women can’t do filthy comedy is welcome to google Lisa Lampanelli, Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman, or Paula Bel, to name a few.
The Ethnic Show is the festival’s way of fighting racism and breaking down cultural barriers through laughter. The host this year is Iranian-American Maz Jobrani who is joined by Jewish American Jessica Kirson, Korean Irish-American Steve Byrne, and the Dominican Vlad Caamaño among others. The Ethnic Show is the show for cultural criticism and self-deprecating ethnic humor that feels less offensive because it’s made by comedians of those backgrounds.
In addition to festival staples, Just for Laughs is introducing some new attractions. New Faces: Creators features people contributing to the “evolution of the comedy landscape” via digital content creation. Also new to the festival is Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch recognizing the talents of stand-up comedians, sketch artists, and web content creators impacting the comedy industry this year.
For those who shun the mainstream, there’s always OFF-JFL and Zoofest which feature over sixty shows in intimate venues all over the city. The more risqué nature of the shows and the fact that tickets are generally cheaper makes this a great option for those of us who are broke. OFF-JFL regular Andy Kindler will host the Alternative Show, while The Lucas Bros return for more laughs. Other comedians in this series include Vir Das, Cristela Alonzo, and Barry Rothbart, to name a few.
With the tense socio political climate in North America, Just For Laughs is the kind festival we need more than ever. It’s not just because we all need a good laugh; it’s because if anyone can call bullshit on the worst behaviors of our leaders to keep them in check, it’s comedians. The best comedians shine when things are bad so if current events are any indication, it’s going to be a GREAT festival this year!
The Nasty Show is an institution at Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival. For over twenty five years talented comedians, some known, some not known yet, unleash the beast, the material they can’t use with faint of heart audiences. At the beginning of every show, the announcer boldly says:
“If you’re easily offended, get out!”
The Nasty Show isn’t for the easily offended.
If you’re the type to whine about a good natured gay joke (they exist), or call the Human Rights Commission because a comedian rightfully points out that sign language is the least politically correct language there is, don’t go to the Nasty Show.
Jokes like that are EXACTLY what you’re going to get. Though the roster of comedians in the show changes every year, there is one face you are sure to see: The Pitbull of Comedy, Bobby Slayton.
Bobby Slayton was fourth on the roster the night I attended the Nasty Show. Though he used to host, he was happy to give up the reins. He brashly told the crowd that JFL asked him if they could give someone else a shot at hosting. Slayton said that if they were looking for someone fatter and a lot less funny, he had just the guy.
This year’s host is our own Mike Ward, the comedian recently forced to pay $42,000 in damages to a disabled kid and his mother, the former of whom was the subject of one of his jokes four years ago. As Forget the Box’s legal columnist, many have asked for my take on the Mike Ward verdict is, so here it is.
The Quebec Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal were created to enforce the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms which protects individuals from harassment and discrimination. That means going after employers who have made it clear that higher paying positions within their companies should only go to men. It means punishing establishments for having dress codes that are clearly designed to discriminate against people who are required by their religions or cultures to wear certain clothing items or accessories. It means ignoring people who want to legally punish panhandlers for trying to earn a living or slapping the complainers with a fine for harassing these individuals.
It is not to go after comedians.
Comedians are society’s best critics. They are the first to pick up on the inconsistencies in our laws, our policies, our customs, and the first to point out the obvious hypocrisies of people in the public eye. A classic example is George Carlin who pointed in the eighties that politicians were going to ban toy guns, “but keep the f-cking real ones!”
Did Jeremy Gabriel deserve to be mocked for his illness?
Is Mike Ward the one who should be punished for making the joke? Or should the tribunal punish all the people who used the joke as an excuse to bully a disabled and disfigured kid?
The answer seems obvious to me.
There is nothing mean-spirited in the joke Ward told or the manner in which it was delivered. There is a BIG difference between questioning in a joke whether a deaf kid can tell if he’s off-key and Daniel Tosh telling the audience that a female heckler at his show should be raped.
The Human Rights Commission and Tribunal overstepped their bounds.
These institutions were created as vehicles of social justice. They were not created for censorship. When an organization goes after the very people who criticize our society, be they journalists or comedians, they cease to be a means of social justice and turn into ones of repression.
The other comedians at the Nasty Show: Paula Bel, Brad Williams, Thomas Dale, and Ralphie May called Mike Ward a freedom fighter and he IS one.
He told the audience he’s planning to appeal the decision and keep on appealing. Every comedian at that show has his back.
Ward is fighting for the freedom to give criticism and make jokes and laugh, even if those laughs make us feel uncomfortable and even a little guilty.
Having said all that, the Nasty Show did not disappoint.
Thomas Dale is the first openly gay comedian to do the Nasty Show and though his act was clean compared that of Paula Bel, Brad Williams, and Ralphie May, he held his own. Dale warmed up the crowd by saying that he almost wishes Trump will win just so he can move to Canada because the men are so hot. The rest of his routine consisted mostly of d-ck jokes.
Paula Bel, the only female comedian in the show, made the best Donald Trump joke. She rightfully pointed out that if Trump wants to stop all illegal immigration, he ought to start with those Eastern European women he keeps bringing into the US to marry. By pulling her long blonde hair across her forehead she faithfully replicated Trump’s comb over and did an imitation of his voice that filled me with awe at its accuracy.
Bobby Slayton was true to form. He did his customary picking on the audience, his target being a large breasted man. Slayton then addressed the elephant in the room: his wife’s death. Though it had happened only three months earlier, Slayton managed to make the tragedy both funny and deferential to his late wife while maintaining his comedy’s textbook raspy edge.
Brad Williams was next and he is a force to be reckoned with in comedy. Though small in stature, he’s not afraid to move around on stage to strengthen a joke. He used the Ward verdict to point out that when society has it too good we make stuff up to get upset about. Williams’ set also included his customary rants about his experiences as a dwarf and his understanding of people with kinks. He rightfully points that a guy claiming to have no sexual interests probably has a roll of duct tape and a van.
Last to go on was Ralphie May, a larger than life comedian from the Southern US. Though his routine was mostly about pleasuring women (those of you who have no idea how or what that is should send Cat McCarthy an email) , he included a joke about Canadian winters and took a jab at Brad Williams for identifying as a dwarf.
“You don’t have a battle axe. You’re not a dwarf!” May said.
The Nasty Show, sponsored by Pornhub is a must see, but if you’re a prude, or an overactive, oversensitive Social Justice Warrior, stay away. Grow a thicker skin or go to another show.
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.
When I first read about this year’s line up for The Nasty Show, I must admit I was excited. Gilbert Gottfried, Artie Lange, Jimmy Carr, etc., the list was making for an ideal night of comedy.
This year would be a very different year for the Nasty Show. Longtime host Bobby Slayton was replaced by local comic Mike Ward, who proved that he could manage the night. But you could still feel that he had big shoes to fill.
I didn’t know how to compare the two. You can tell that Mike was trying to get in there like a seasoned professional and proved that we have some very credibly dirty comics in the this city. But as Canada’s Sin City, we shouldn’t really be that surprised that a Montreal comic can hold his own.
The evening began with the first comedian, seasoned comic Mike Wilmot, who warmed up the crowd with how Montreal is treated much like a mistress for most people in Toronto.
Jimmy Carr was the second to perform that night, and surprisingly, his rapid-fire, short-punchline form of comedy was one of the best of the evening.
There’s something about his punchline comedy that makes audiences laugh nonstop. And although he did break the Nasty Show threshold, telling some pretty lewd jokes, he established himself innocently oblivious while doing it, encased in a powerful wit – really adding to his routine.
Luenell came after. It was the first time Luenell performed at the comedy fest, but she was perfect addition to the night. Luenell’s comedy was based on her very strange stories about dating a man who lived in an assisted living apartment, which ended when he started taking Viagra.
Gilbert Gottfried came on like a man on the mission to make his audience squirm. This, I could see by the 25-year-old “Politically Correct” crowd sitting next to me were starting to feel slightly uncomfortable when Gottfried dipped into his collection of terrible and nasty jokes.
But that’s how Gottfried’s schtick works. When I interviewed Gottfried some weeks ago, he said that he couldn’t remember doing the Nasty Show before this year. This i found surprising, since Gottfried is one of the nastiest and dirtiest comics out there and was an excellent addition to the Nasty Show line up.
The last performer of the evening was the very unhealthy-looking Artie Lange. For years now, Artie Lange has been one of the background voices on the Howard Stern Show. He was also on Mad TV in the 90s. But ever since he joined Stern, he has really made a name for himself in comedy.
On stage, he looks like he’s been through a lot. “I’m one of the few people that never lost weight doing cocaine,” he tells his audience, “I must have been doing it wrong.” His jokes talk about his time in rehab and how he ended up in a mental institution. He’s clean now, but very drunk.
The Nasty Show is what it is. If you’re easily offended, if you are a member of the under-25 PC crowd, if you squirm at dirty jokes, then this might not be the show for you. For everyone else, buckle up and enjoy the lewd ride! This show is going to get nasty!
The Nasty Show runs from July 16 to July 25 at Metropolis and Club Soda. Check out hahaha.com for more information.
Photos courtesy of Matthew Cope and Just for Laughs.
Gilbert Gottfried is undoubtedly a comedy legend. He’s also an actor, podcaster in his own right, frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show and the voice of everyone’s favourite evil bird Iago. This summer, he’s performing in The Nasty Show at Just for Laughs!
FTB’s Jerry Gabriel had a chance to speak with Gottfried. They talked longevity in comedy, royalties, Montreal, Just for Laughs Nasty and more:
* The Nasty Show runs July 16th to 18th at Metropolis, for tickets and info: hahaha.com
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.
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.
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)
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 hahaha.com and keep checking FTB for our coverage.