The galas hosted by the comic with the most industry cred, and the one with the most celebrity cred, did not disappoint last night. Bill Burr, JFL’s Stand-up Comic of the Year, stayed true to form, teetering on the brink of provocation with hockey jabs (Burr, a Bostonian, is a Bruins fan), ranting about the wives of US Presidents, and feebly trying to get the female stagehand’s attention every time she came out to switch the microphones.
With arguably the greatest stand-up comic on the planet as host and an incredibly impressive line-up of Michael Che, Nikki Glaser, Mark Forward, Paul Virzi, Kurt Metzger, Chris D’Elia, and Dom Irrera, there was not a lag in momentum or dip in energy the whole night.
The Daily Show writer Michael Che on resources that we should be waging wars over: “Oil? What about ink? It’s like $48 a cartridge!”
Chris D’Elia on hating sports, and how they’d be worth watching if the teams actually stayed true to their names, ie: dolphins swimming from attacking bears, or, “the Browns hanging out in their backyard having a BBQ, when all of a sudden, ‘OH SHIT!! GIANTS!!’”
Paul Virzi on being a stay-at-home dad and unable to relate to his single friends’ escapades: “If a woman spread her legs and told me I could do whatever I wanted to her, I think I’d pull out a baby wipe and wipe her from front to back.”
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At Seth Rogen’s gala benefiting Hilarity for Charity – the initiative he and his wife set up after her father was diagnosed wtih Alzheimer’s at the age of fifty – the always affable Rogen played to his strengths, enlisting an audience member to help him re-enact a hilariously awkward pet store-turned love affair sketch he’d written. Introducing his impressive line-up of Joe Mande, Jim Norton, Hannibal Buress, Jerrod Carmichael, Michelle Wolf and Al Madrigal, Rogen poked fun at his hosting skills: “I’m going to introduce this next comic the way I’ve introduced all the other ones…”
Jim Norton on fame: “I know I’m not famous because no one’s ever asked me to apologize for anything.”
Jerrod Carmichael on Canadian delicacies: “Ketchup chips sound like something a single mother makes to make Christmas more exciting.”
The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal’s hilarious accounts of hosting piñata parties for the neighbourhood kids, and being shoved into a Latino-American comedian niche: “Can we interview you in Spanish?” “Uh, you can try but I’m not sure how that’s going to go for you.”
Michelle Wolf on unfair judgments: “You wait all day to do something and you’re a procrastinator, but you do it first thing in the morning, and you’re an alcoholic.”
Joe Mande, providing a valuable lesson to men everywhere: (texting his wife) “I’m gonna send you a picture of my dick.” “Uhhhh….don’t.”
And the biggest highlights were, as anyone on any form of social media was immediately alerted to last night:
Surprise guest Joseph Gordon-Levitt, impressing the crowd with both his French and singing skills;
Rogen’s proud-to-be-Canadian finale, whereby Youppi helped shoot Timbits and Coffee Crisps into the crowd; and
PK Subban when he brought out two full pitchers so Seth Rogen could chug beer out of the Stanley Cup.
A truly memorable night.
The Just for Laughs festivals ran July 9 to 28. Check out their year-round events and productions at hahaha.com.
Natalie Willett is a freelance writer based in Montreal