Get ready Montreal (and the rest of the world) it is time for the 24th annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. The Montreal festival has become the most important and well-attended comedy festival in the world. Careers have been made or broken right here in our little city. This year's line up is full of the best loved shows and comedians and some new twists and comics for us to discover. The solo performer is highlighted this year and it is the North American premiere of the hottest, sexiest show called La Cirque. La Cirque is a vaudevillian slash burlesque show that has wowed audiences all over the world. Since its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 10 years ago it has become the most talked about show since the Australian success that was Stomp. You are guaranteed to laugh your butt off and come out of it feeling a little naughtier than when you went in. La Cirque will be running the whole length of the festival at the Musée Just Pour Rire. Another 'theatre' style presentation is Women Fully Clothed, which is a show of sketch comedy with a definite feminine perspective. The five women in this show have been called by none other than Eugene Levy the funniest five women in Canada. Make sure to catch both of these shows!
The solo performances at this year's festival look to be among the highlights. Comic legend Bill Cosby will be performing two shows at Place des Arts, John Pinette of Broadway and the Tonight Show With Jay Leno will be tickling audiences with his unique brand of comedy and one of my favourite stand up comediennes, Margaret Cho will be bringing her edgy yet thought provoking routine for a one performance only show at Place des Arts. In order to give some 'special' comedians their own full-length shows, Just For Laughs is presenting (amongst others) The Daily Show's Demetri Martin, British comedy cult hero Stewart Lee, Tim Minchin's one-man cabaret show, Billy the Mime, and Canadian Phil Nichol.
Every year at the festival the well-attended club series comes up with shows that keep fans coming back year after year. The Nasty Show is always sold out year after year and keeps people coming back for more. Theme shows such as Best of the Uptown Comics, Bubbling With Laughter, Laughrodisiacs – The Relationship Show, Montreal Show, and Talk of the Fest are all back by popular demand. Two new twists have been added on this year including The Asian Invasion which will feature some of the funniest comedians from that part of the world and The Comedy Showdown will have 8 comedians facing off head-to-head. There will also be comedy road shows happening at Bourbon Street West again this year.
Comedia, the film portion of the festival, is back again this year at Monument National. It will offer some of the best comedy films, short and full-length, from all parts of the world. A treat is that often the comedians or directors of the films are there at the screenings for question and answer sessions.
The cherries on top of the sundae that is the festival is definitely the Galas. This year the hosts of these wonderful nights at Theatre St. Denis are Jason Alexander (Seinfeld's George), John Cleese (from Monty Python), Craig Ferguson (from The Drew Carey Show), and finally after many years of sold out club shows the Irish (who everyone knows are the funniest people in the world) will have their own gala, called O'Comics, hosted by Ed Byrne. The final gala is a unique one hosted by the hit of the festival several years ago, Italy's own quick change artist Artruro Brachetti. Brachetti will host three bilingual galas which will feature some of the best visual acts in the world.
I have just highlighted some of the things that will be happening at the month-long comedy festival. It is so jammed packed that t would take pages and pages to talk about it. Just make sure that you take in as much of this wonderful programming as you can! Remember laughter is the best medicine!
-Tickets: You can purchase tickets for individual shows or the smarter more economical option is to purchase one of their many packages.
-Tickets can be purchased at: www.hahaha.com , www.admission.com , the Just for Laughs box office (2111 St. Laurent), or by calling (514) 845-2322 or 1-888-244-3155.
-Just for Laughs also offers last minute tickets at greatly reduced prices on the day of shows at www.hahaha.com or at the booth on St. Denis.