Here’s a little behind-the-scenes secret about how media accreditation works. You usually ask to get as many tickets as possible to review as many shows as possible. And if you’re a relatively smaller blog like FTB, you don’t expect to get into the big shows. That’s just showbiz, as they say. So you can imagine my surprise at seeing that I was able to get tickets for BOTH Jeff Goldblum’s and David Cross’ galas on Wednesday night.

That’s a lot of comedy!

Jeff Goldblum Gala

Let’s start with Jeff Goldblum – he’s a delight on the stage. He is well dressed, well-spoken, and very self-aware. He knows what it means to be Jeff Goldblum, and he knows that impressionists love to do him. That’s probably why he had an entire segment dedicated to him teaching the audience how to do the “Jeff Goldblum.” You touch your face, go on …uhm… really long, run-on paragraphs, and …uhm… get REALLY EASILY EXCITED about …you know… things. Eh, it doesn’t work when I’m writing the impression I guess. But you get the gist.

I never thought of Goldblum as a stand-up comedian, and I will stand by that statement. He was magnificent as a host, but some of the jokes were – well, they could have been better delivered by an actual stand-up comedian. I also could tell that he was reading his jokes from a teleprompter, so that kinda broke the magic for me as well. Still, he’s a funny guy and no one can take that away from him. I highly doubt anyone is trying to do so, anyway.

Godfrey at the Gala.

At Goldblum’s gala, the audience was able to see Darrin Rose, Godfrey, Patrick Haye, Russell Howard, Elon Gold, Charlie Pickering, Lynne Koplitz, and Adam Ferrara. Out of these 8 (omg) comedians, I can confidently say that my favourites were Russell Howard, Godfrey, and Charlie Pickering. But don’t get me wrong, all of them were amazing comedians, and the audience seemed to agree with me.

It’s just that I have a very particular style of humour and these three fellas all hit the spot. Howard is from the UK and – obviously – delivers his jokes in that classic British style. His delivery is not as dry as some other Brits, which is admittedly a nice change of pace. I don’t exactly remember how the conversation got there, but at some point he started talking about same-sex marriages. He said that some people in the UK are afraid that they could lead to a lesbian queen. He than started miming the queen getting a blowjob and screamed “Yeah, does it taste like stamps?!” Best queen joke I’ve heard in a while.

David Cross Gala

David Cross is a gem. He is the master of awkward comedy and I just love that. Once his name was announced, Cross appeared behind the gates on the scene, with his pants down. He pulled them up immediately, and then started doing his spiel. He started telling us about how Americans feel about Canadians and how much trouble they have trying to mock Canadians.

The harshest thing they can think of, apparently, was that Canadians are so polite. He says that it’s funny that Canadians are so polite. And that gets me thinking… Most comedians at JFL have a bit about how people in the US think about Canadians. I wonder if that was a collective decision on their part, or is it just an easy – almost cheaty? – way of breaking the ice with the audience. Once they’re done with talking about US-Canada relations, they start talking about American politics. They’re all collectively afraid of what might happen if a certain giant Oompa Loompa gets elected.

Cross is an infinitely better stand-up comedian than Goldblum. Some heckler guy made him mess up a joke, but even then he was able to keep his cool and make that into a joke that the audience just loved. He is less charismatic than Goldblum, but that’s not what he is going for anyway. He’ll be awkward on the stage and you will love it. I mean, at least if you’re into that kinda thing.

At Cross’ gala, we had Maria Bamford, Louie Anderson, Nick Thune, Todd Barry, Scott Thompson, Nish Kumar, and Mark Forward.

David Cross (2)
David Cross, a.k.a. baseball cap Santa Claus.

Nish Kumar was by far my favourite among this lineup – and that despite the fact that I was really excited to see Maria Bamford and Louie Anderson. I was expecting Bamford’s set to be different than what it was. She kept in character throughout the whole thing, which is to be expected if you’re familiar with her style. And with Anderson, I suppose I was still remembering him as the guy who did the mid-90s cartoon series Life with Louie. He wasn’t really – but still was pretty funny.

It was my first time seeing Kumar, however, and I was very impressed. Again, he’s a comic from the UK, so obviously I liked his style. His humour is very smart and very political. He talked about how almost impossible it is to write right-wing comedy, but also it’s difficult to write a left-wing action film. “You’d have no interest in watching the Avengers go to the UN Security Council,” as he said. I love politics, and I love comedy – and Kumar was the perfect mixture of both.

Overall, these two galas were both very amazing and funny. If I could spend five hours sitting in the same hall, listening to these comedians again, I would do it without hesitating.

All photos by Eric Myre, courtesy of Just for Laughs festival.

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