Here we are, like the Doors song, this is the end… Yesterday after a long week of many shows I ended up running out of steam and just not being able to make my way to many of the shows I booked save for one. The Alternative Show at Second City, a midnight show, this is where I felt I needed to be and I was right.
The Alternative Show is always feels it’s as much for the comedians as the comedy fans, the audience is often peppered with people from the industry, various performers from the show or fans who have fallen in love with the irreverence of Andy Kindler. I started as the latter and am slowly shifting along the spectrum to comedy industry adjacent. Either way, it was a real delight and I felt I needed to be there that night and I’m glad I was.
We arrived at the penultimate day of the festival a city on the brink, having cusped summer into fall the weather had normalized by Friday evening into the light cool of fall. Having already had a very exciting day getting to sit down with Jackie Kashian for a great one on one conversation and then rush back to publish my recap I was ready to just ease into the packed evening.
Arriving at the theatre it well before the event I was a little surprised to find the line to get in stretching down the street and around the corner. As a fan of Maria Bamford I’ve always been excited to see her perform but it’s a great pleasure to see that excitement spreading to larger and larger audiences with each successive show I’ve seen her at. She really does feel like a comic speaking to an audience who have, until recently, felt largely unrepresented.
Yesterday was an exciting day, after a flurry of activity in the morning (including a great interview with Jackie Kashian which will be airing in a couple of weeks) I got to cheer on a friend in the SiriusXM Top Comic competition and follow that up with an exciting night at The Alternative Show hosted by the ever hilarious Andy Kindler.
The late night meant this morning when I got up I was running on fumes. I had hoped to go to Jackie’s The Dork Forest podcast recording but wasn’t able to make it. I’m just going to have to pick it up from Band Camp as a premium episode when it becomes available, that’s the price of 2 or 3 am nights several days in a row. For people who are starting to slow down like myself, it really takes its toll, but the price was worth it.
Sorry to be running a bit behind today, last night was a late one and I had an early interview this morning with the amazing Jackie Kashian, it was a delight to sit down and chat with her. Watch for the episode of the podcast in the coming weeks. Last night was a night for the history books, usually it’s about this point in the festival I start to lean into the experience hard with two or three shows a night and midnight shows. Last night was the beginning of the full tilt comedy experience.
The weather broke late Tuesday and early into Wednesday morning with an epic battle of thunder and lightning lighting the sky. The temperatures had cooled back down to reasonable fall weather and there was even the flavour of a fall bite to the air. We grabbed some dinner in a nearby food court and made our way to the Winter Garden for Bridget Everett… at 7:00 in the evening… this was definitely not a 7:00 show.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Chanty Marostica, the first out trans performer in JFL42 history and a finalist in the SiriusXM Top Comic competition. They just wrapped their solo show at The Comedy Bar last night and will be recording their set for the SiriusXM Top Comic special this evening. It was a great converation about comedy, creating spaces and the process of taking part in SiriusXM's Top Comic competition (and the plus side of getting to stay in a swanky hotel).
You may be asking yourself where our Day 5 article is, well, we didn’t go to any shows on Day 5. There in lies the rub with festivals. You may be tempted to stay out very late and push yourself too hard but I know my limits. I start doing that, I get snippy and don’t laugh. I may not get to see every show I WANT to see but if I push myself too hard I wont enjoy it, if I don’t enjoy it I deprive the artist of an audience member who will enjoy it and a fan of a chance to see something they enjoy and that's bad mojo all around. That’s just my personal take though, your mileage may vary, just do what feels good for you.
Back into the game tonight though I started with a real treat, Matt Braunger with D.J. Demers opening. Both are great light hearted and welcoming comedians. After a day off they were the perfect duo to get my laugh wheels back up and spinning again especially on a night where the weather took a turn for the weird.
Welcome to day 4, by now I’ve fallen into my JFL42 rhythm. I’m staying up to ungodly hours, drinking (which is something I seldom do), and laughing… a lot. To be fair, this would be a nice way to live every day. Today I took in my second headliner (Wanda Sykes) as well as an improv show (Paul F. Tompkins and Marc Evan Jackson).
Settling into our seats at the Sony Centre (literally one row and two seats over from my seats from the night before) we readied ourselves for what we were sure was going to be a great night and were not disappointed. The audience off the bat was high energy and excited to see Wanda. Security meanwhile were also very excited to make sure everyone’s cell phones were put away. Many headliner acts (especially ones with a special on the way) do not allow photography, this was the case here and security were buzzing about the entire show checking that there were no phones out.
Unfortunately due to a prior commitment to a tween I did not see much comedy today, I spent much of the day listening to Wizrock and dressed in my finest Wizarding regalia (as seen above). Apparently there was Wiz-Comedy as well but I didn’t catch it. I really should have made an effort but I was much more interested in watching the two University of Guelph Quidditch teams go face to face for a chance at the cup.
After my adventures in off brand Wizarding, I returned home and prepared myself for a night of comedy with Seth Meyers. If you are unfamiliar with Seth Meyers you are really missing out, current host of Late Night with Seth Meyers and former head writer and Weekend Update anchor for SNL he has a storied career as a comedian as well as a writer for himself. Some contend it was his White House Correspondent’s Dinner that gave us the Trump Presidency but don’t hold that against him (because, you know, even if it did that didn’t make Trump the craziest crayon in the box).
Tonight was a real treat, I got to see Fortune Feimster and Matteo Lane. Both amazing acts that were a treat to behold and left me holding my sides due to laughter.
The first show was at the Royal Theatre, the weather continues to confound today with threats of thunderstorms being held at bay by an unrelenting heat and a crystal blue sky made ominous by clouds just on the horizon. Despite the temperature fluctuating wildly from hot and damp to cold and blustery all in a matter of moments and the threat of thunderstorms (which I suspect I’ll find myself in tomorrow) we arrived at the Royal excited. I had seen Fortune on her special, NBC’s Last Comic Standing and The Mindy Project. This was my first opportunity to see her live.
Before I get too far into my recap of my evening I want to just lay out the rules I set out for myself and what I’m doing. If you’re looking for a review or a blow by blow breakdown of the acts you’re not going to get that here. My hope is to lay out a quick biography of the acts that I see followed by a brief feeling of the night as well as some of the themes touched on. Give you a little taste for the type of energy and laughs to expect and hopefully entice you out to see some of these acts yourself either at the festival or around town if you have a chance.
The weather was confusing today, it was hot and cold intermittently with heavy pregnant clouds hanging over the city threatening rain. Despite all this I was excited, this is like a Comedy Birthday for me (especially since on many years it ends around or on my birthday) and I was starting the festival by seeing Courtney Gilmour, an act I had seen as an opening act last year and I was really excited to see her headline.
Matthew Ardill & Jason Deline
Partners in crime we collaborate to create the Comedy Album Book Club, a deep dive into comedy history.