Sophie Buddle isn’t a huge fan of the Zoom comedy show, the go-to performance option for many standups during the pandemic.

“Yes, I was doing Zoom shows,” she said in a phone interview, “but I will say that doing Zoom shows is almost worse than doing no shows at all for me because, number one, I have very bad WIFI, but as a standup, if you boil down what we do, we create a vibe in a room and in order to do that, you have to be in the same room with everyone you’re creating said vibe with.”

Buddle feels that with Zoom, you miss the smaller laughs which allow the comic to really connect with their audience.

“In my set, I have more fun with the little laughs in between the big punchline laughs,” Buddle observed, “that’s really where I think all the personality is. It’s the little in-betweenies. In Zoom shows, the big pops still come in, but all the little ones that really bring the flow along don’t get anything.”

This Sunday, she will once again be performing in front of a live, in-person audience at Just for Laughs. Of course, this is a hybrid version of the festival, meaning, among other things, that capacity will be limited and social distancing and health measures will be in effect.

Buddle knows that it will be different. She has been performing socially distanced shows in Vancouver, a comedy scene she loves, for about a month now, since venues re-opened, and sees the advantage to this new type of performance.

“Comedy audiences are as desperate for standup as the comedians are to do it,” she said, “it’s kind of good that everyone who is there is really keen to be there. There’s no filler audience members anymore.”

This year, she won’t just be performing for the audience in the room, Buddle will be recording her first comedy special for Crave and the CTV Comedy Channel. She is thankful for this opportunity and sees it as her career regaining momentum.

“I was waiting in line to board the plane to go to the Junos (she won Best Comedy Album for 2019’s Lil bit of Buddle) and I got a text that the Junos were going to be cancelled,” Buddle remembered, “I’m sure for every industry, you work your entire career to get some momentum, and I felt like winning the Juno was definitely the biggest thing and finally things were starting to roll for me and then that happened and I just had to sit in my apartment all year and I felt like I’m not going to get anything big like that again…and now that things are opening back up again and I’m getting a special on Crave, it’s just such a relief. The momentum is starting up again!”

Buddle plans to spend a few days in Montreal after the festival, as this was where she was born and spent a few years of her childhood and she still holds a fondness for this city. In the fall, though, she plans to move down to the US, California most likely, and look for comedy writing work.

Her previous TV writing gig was for This Hour Has 22 Minutes, but was cut short due to the pandemic. In particular because it was remote work, the show operates on Halifax time and Buddle lives in BC and keeps “stand-up comedian hours”, aka she’s not an early riser.

And you can catch her during standup hours twice this Sunday.

Sophie Buddle and Chris Robinson will be recording CTV Comedy and Crave Stand-Up Specials Sunday, August 1 at 7 and 10 pm at L’Astral, 305 Ste-Catherine Ouest. Tickets available through HaHaHa.com

I’ve been to a few comedy TV tapings in my time including one episode of The Daily Show and a few Just for Laughs galas. JFL All Access was different.

It had a real comedy club feel, meaning we, as an audience, were part of the show. In particular a kid who was there with his parents and some dude with a beer towel on his head.

The young man was a go-to for most of the comics, but the guy with the towel was just a favourite of host Moshe Kasher. The host explained that he looked like a fellow American, so a bond was formed.

Experienced being on TV and now hosting his own talk show, Kasher took to his JFL hosting duties like the pro that he is. He also delivered some real killer standup.

His material touched on catcalling, Jewish stereotypes and the difference between the kind of social media comments he and his wife (Natasha Leggero, also a comedian, hosting All Access tonight) get. The most interesting part for me, though, was when he told a joke as a test to see just how far a progressive Montreal audience would follow him.

But, of course, the show wasn’t just about the host. There were seven really talented comedians also performing.

Joe Lycett

The standout for me was British comedian Joe Lycett. His retelling of an email exchange he had with his rental company was that stuff that fits of laughter are made of.

Fellow Brit Seann Walsh also delivered the funny with a really relateable bit on memories of Limewire and dial up. I felt I should have predicted his final punchline but was glad that I didn’t as it really worked comedically and made sense.

Proving that even the comics in Vancouver are chill and talk about weed was Sophie Buddle. Her set was low key but just as funny as her more bombastic compatriots. A nice change of tone.

Fellow Canadian (from Toronto) Eddie Della Siepe won the award for most awkward personal story told for laughs. It involves vibrators and his deaf mother.

Fellow Torontonian now living in LA Julia Hladkowicz got real about an encounter with a kid in a park. It’s all about perspective.

Props to American comic Guy Branum for bringing our national dish into the conversation. He also had some interesting views on Canada’s history.

Eugene Mirman of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival and Bob’s Burgers spent most of his time telling of a rather unique way he got revenge for a parking ticket. However, it was his story of the signs he posted in various places that really got me laughing.

While that completed the TV lineup, the audience was also treated to a surprise off-camera performance by Jimmy Carr, whom we already reviewed in our report on The Nasty Show. There was also Aaron Burr, a stellar comic in his own right, serving tonight as the warm-up guy before the cameras started rolling. Burr’s set was great, but there’s something extra cool about getting instructions on how to get drinks from the bar during the show from a world-class comedian.

I recommend checking out an All Access taping and watching this show when it shows up on The Comedy Network.

All Access Live runs with different hosts until July 29th, tickets available through hahaha.com