Sir Patrick Stewart is many things to many people. Royal Skakespeare Company veteran, Knight of the Order of the British Empire, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Twitter phenom, Sir Ian McKellen’s BFF. Now you can add raunchy standup comic to that increasingly growing list.

Wednesday night, Stewart hosted a gala at Just for Laughs and made his entrance dressed as a stereotypical old-time knight. He made reference to his title a few times during the night (pun intended), even joking about his duels with fellow knighted British celebs which culminated with a Sean Connery impression.

Most of his material, though, was, as he put it, “far away from The Royal Shakespeare Company.” Now, this wasn’t The Nasty Show, but it wasn’t PG either.

Sir Patrick Stewart Just for Laughs Montreal 2

Think of an older relative at a family dinner after a few drinks telling dirty jokes. Now imagine those jokes with a British accent, which adds class. Now give that voice the commanding presence of one of the biggest cultural icons of the last quarter century and you get the almost surreal feeling I had last night.

OMG I’m in the same room as Sir Patrick Stewart…and he’s telling dick jokes!

Political Commentary From a Knight

Add one more thing to the list: supporter of Quebec independence. Well, not really. He only said that to stun the audience to silence. He admitted it after quite a long, confused pause.

He did, however, get into Canadian politics for real. He ripped into Stephen Harper, quipping that making the biggest dick Prime Minister wasn’t the best way to deal with penis envy.

A supporter of England’s Labour Party since he was four years old, Stewart said that they were kind of like our Liberal Party, just without the vapid hairdoo as leader. No mention of Mulcair, maybe it’s the Riker beard.

The Comics

As with all JFL galas, the evening wasn’t just about the host. Five comics graced the Place des Arts stage and kept the crowd entertained.

Kyle Kinane
Kyle Kinane

First up was Kyle Kinane, whom I had seen a few nights earlier at OFF-JFL’s The Canadian Show. While Stewart didn’t mention his most famous role, except in a reference to people who kept asking him about Star Trek, Kinane went for it in his routine. It came across more as a tribute to the man who had just introduced him.

Now I’m sure there were more than four lights in Place des Arts, but the other part of Kinane’s Trek referencing led us into his bit on male beard grooming. That along with his take on heavy metal roadies and his visit to a fertility clinic made for a very funny set which the audience just ate up.

Two fellow Brits joined Stewart in the lineup. Russell Howard delivered a solid fast-paced set that touched on family and celebrity (he’s a star in England) in a very funny and interesting way. Gina Yashere also told dick jokes, sort of, but hers were more about how she wasn’t looking for one. Still raunchy and quite funny, though.

Gina Yashere
Gina Yashere

David Acer represented Montreal with class and wit as Pete Zedlacher did for Wawa, Ontrario. SNL alumn Jim Brewer went all the way to Africa to get jokes from a safari and the prospect of being eaten by a lion which the audience ate up (pun also intended). Sebastian Maniscalco got laughs comparing his life with that of the man who introduced him: “he’s a knight, I ate hot dogs for breakfast.”

I left feeling very satisfied both culturally and comedically. Now to watch some TNG episodes on Netflix and find out if seeing Sir Patrick Stewart in a new light changes how I view the show.

* photos by Éric Myre, courtesy of Just for Laughs

Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Professor X himself, is coming to Montreal this summer.

No, he’s not here shooting the next X-Men film, though that shoot is happening in town. He’s not coming to sit on a panel and sign autographs at Comicon, he already did that a couple of years ago. He’s not performing Beckett or Shakespeare, either, at least we don’t think so.

He’s coming to do comedy. Specifically, he’ll be hosting a gala at Just for Laughs.

Make It So…Funny

After the initial excitement of such an icon coming to town settles, you may find yourself asking “is Patrick Stewart a comedian?” Well, not in the classic stand-up sense, but he can be funny as hell.

I know it might be hard to imagine the man known for badass and touching moments as a top-notch comedian, but he is. Just think of his roles on American Dad and Family Guy, his appearances on late-night shows like the Colbert Report and Jimmy Kimmel and you’ll know it’s true.

He is a master of spoofing his own public image. The overly dramatic, classically trained British actor can perform a sendup of himself like no other. It’s like Shatner but more classy. His Ice Bucket Challenge video is a prime example.

Already a Great Lineup

Sir Patrick Stewart will join a lineup of talent that is already quite exceptional. With the likes of Weird Al Yankovic, Dave Chapelle, incoming Daily Show host Trevor Noah, Neil Patrick Harris and Mike Meyers already headlining, this one looks like a real barn burner. And that doesn’t even mention the rest of the JFL lineup, the OFF-JFL lineup or performers playing Zoofest this year.

Now, with Stewart, JFL can boldly go…oh, forget the puns, here’s something to tide you over until he gets here:

* Patrick Stewart will host the July 22nd 9:45pm Gala at Place des Arts. For tickets and more:

Fans of the X-Men movie franchise have to be some of the most patient people on the planet. Oh, it all started out great (early 2000s implication that full body leather was the best way to do a superhero costume aside) but then things started to get dodgy when the films went from delightful superhero romps to big whalloping knees to the groin. But like a Stockholm Syndrome sufferer, or a Sonic fan (same thing, really) we stuck it out in the hopes that someday, somehow, the pain would end. Well, put away your soothing salves and hot compresses, because someone’s finally made a good X-Men movie again. The same someone who made the only two other good ones, Bryan Singer, in a move that frankly makes me wonder if the whole thing wasn’t some New Coke-esque ploy to make us love him even more.

DOFP posterThe new movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past starts off a bit Terminator Salvation-y in a dystopian future where mutants and mutant sympathizers are hunted down and exterminated by giant shape shifting robots called Sentinels. The only hope for mutant kind is to use Kitty Pride’s power to send someone’s mind back in time and send Wolverine into his 1970s body to convince Mystique to not kill the architect of the Sentinels, which would have kicked the whole thing off. To do this, he enlists the help of Professor Xavier, who has long since turned his back on his powers and resigned himself to looking like a roadie for the Grateful Dead, and Magneto, who’s in jail for supposedly killing JFK; because sure, why not.

Visually, Days of Future Past is undoubtedly the strongest movie in the entire X-Men franchise, and without the impressive and imaginative fight sequences, I’d probably be burying in the same hole I chucked X-Men: First Class. Bryan Singer knows how to create interesting and fun visuals and action sequences, and does some of his best work here. You may have already heard a significant amount of buzz about Quicksilver, one of the new characters introduced in the movie (the one who’ll also be in Avengers: Age of Ultron but not really, but sorta, don’t think too hard about it) and his big scene is probably going to be the highlight of the movie for a lot of people.

Although really, any time he’s on screen, the movie couldn’t be more fun if you had your pants off. Evan Peters does more to bring personality and charm to the role than most of his cast-mates, and that includes Peter Dinklage, who like most of the supporting cast gets very little character to work with.

So if the visuals are solid, then the movie’s a home run right? Well no, and stop putting words in my mouth. While the fight scenes, effects and overall look of the film get two big thumbs up, the script, without mincing words, is often lazy and undercooked. Numerous plot points, like why Kitty Pride suddenly has time travel powers, and the reasoning behind why it has to be Wolverine who goes back are either never explained or given the most half-hearted explanations possible. I mean come on, Wolverine is the one to go back because his mind has healing powers too? You’re not even trying, movie. The film is so full of unanswered questions and minor plot holes that I can practically hear the “Honest Trailers” and “How it Should have Ended” videos being written as we speak.

DOFP Quicksilver

But the worst offender for me was a plot point concerning Prof X and Beast, who you may have noticed in the trailers are walking around and looking perfectly human, respectively. When Wolverine meets the two and asks about this, the film breathlessly explains that between First Class and now, Beast developed a serum that fixes Prof X’s spine, but at the cost of his power, and a similar one that makes Beast revert to human form. Now, I’m not gonna harp on comic book science, here. The fact that this doesn’t make sense (which it really, really doesn’t) isn’t what bugs me so much about this plot point. What bugs me is that it never DOESN’T feel like a plot device, a writing shortcut cooked up by a screenwriter to explain why Professor X doesn’t just mind-freeze everyone, why Beast can go outside, and to make Prof X’s character arc (basically him choose to hope again and be Professor X rather than the richest hobo in the land) all the more obvious by having him choose the chair and his powers over legs and no powers.

What would have been wrong with him still being in the chair, but choosing to never use his powers again? Would him overcoming that not be enough of a character arc? Him having to choose the chair feels….obvious. It feels like they’re adding a component to his storyline to make it easier to grasp that the whole thing is about him choosing to be Professor X. That if it’s just him overcoming his personal demons and accepting his role as leader and mentor, we might not pick up on it. So a visual way to represent him making that transition from one state to another was cooked up, and it’s unnecessary. It would have helped if the serum that drives this whole subplot felt at all like an organic or natural part of the world, rather than something dropped in to make it easier on the writers and the audience. It might as well be magic for all the effort they go to making it makes sense in the context of the world.

These gripes aside, Days of Future Past is undoubtedly the best movie in the series since X2. When it works, it works amazingly well, but the often lazy script drags it down like a lead weight. Thankfully the pool’s only a few feet deep, and lifeguards were on hand to save it.