It’s easy to forget how good it feels to laugh with strangers. Like fireworks and live music, the ephemeral nature of the experience fades over time, melting into a moment remembered with fondness and a shrug.
Let me assure you: live comedy is the vitamin you’ve been deficient in for years now. No matter how many specials you binged on the couch during the pandy, it doesn’t even compare.
I was impressed and quickly overwhelmed by the sparkly and energetic red carpet style event at Club Soda for Just for The Culture‘s opening night
There were lights, cameras, kind staff whisking people around, funny folks posing and answering questions. I had to think fast on my feet, so I prioritized. First, I fawned and fangirled over Jessica Kirson (who was a total mensch, kind and patient), then I found my seat, and the bar in short order.
While I was familiar with some of the names on the lineup, others were totally new to me. It was hosted by Alonzo Bodden, who I spoke to last week, check it here.
Sheng Wang opened the show. He had a relaxed, slow burn style that eased us in and reminded us how we do this.
Lebanese Canadian Dave Merheje told family stories that’ll resonate with many, and especially with first and second generation Canadians.
Paul Rabliauskas, an Anishinaabe comedian from Winnipeg, let us kno that this was his biggest gig to date, which made it feel special. His set demonstrated his more than 15 years in the game, and I have a hunch his gigs will just get bigger.
Zainab Johnson was another name I hadn’t heard before, but one I will definitely remember. Named to Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch for 2019 (the year when comedy and the world shut down), she’s at the start of her story, and it’s gonna be a big one.
Yannis Pappas hit the stage with jokes blazing and no holds barred. Beware, he’s been here before, and he’s done some research. He’s ready to hold up the mirror the city needs, and make you laugh till you cry while he does.
Jessica Kirson closed it out like the beast she is. She did jokes, voices, act outs, until our laughter morphed into howls. We literally took a moment after the show to catch our breaths before getting up, with one of my table mates wiping away tears and saying “I’m not ready yet”. What more can you actually ask of a show?
Featured Image by Joseph El-Hage, courtesy of Just for Laughs
Just for the Culture runs from July 20th to 28th. Tickets available at hahaha.com