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).
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.
10 Must Brings 3 Maybe Brings and 1 Leave At Home items for your JFL42 Experience (aka building your own Go For Laughs Bag)
Going to a festival is a different beast from going to a regular show, every festival is different and JFL42 is no different. Now, going to JFL42 isn’t like going to Burning Man or Coachella. There’s no need to worry about packing up your fun fur covered automobile with your giant pagan goat mask collection (one for each day of the week) or fretting over which bikini to bedeck in glitter and colour coordinate with your furry boots and glow sticks but there are some practical concerns for the enthusiastic festival goer.
After four years of going to the festival I’ve perfected my personal go bag for attending the festival. Today I’m going to walk you through 10 must haves, three maybe brings and one leave at home item to bring along with you.
We at the Comedy Album Book Club love sharing our comedy nerdiness with people, so in that spirit, we’re going to take you along for the ride of my ten days in comedy paradise. Ten days a year the city of Toronto turns into a comedy fan’s playground. JFL42, an offshoot of Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival, that has evolved into its very own special entity. Growing over the years it has adopted its own traditions and returning shows like Andy Kindler’s midnight showcases at Second City. In addition stable of headliners and “The 42” have continued to diversify with “ComedyCon”. ComedyCon consists of daytime events that include one on one interviews where performers chat about their careers and process as well as podcast tapings where you can join the audience.
This is the 7th year of the festival and the fourth year I’ve attended, at first the festival is a bit of a tricky beast to wrangle. Unlike many festivals, you don’t simply buy a ticket. Instead, you buy a package that has a variety of options including “credits” to use for reserving shows. In prior years the ComedyCon events have been walled off available just to “VIP” package holders but over the last two years these events have opened to everyone. The bundles range from individual shows (for as little as $25 dollars for The 42 and ComedyCon events and $32.50 for headliners), 2 credit passes for $55 dollars all the way up to the VIP pass with preferred seating, a “special gift”, 4 headliner tickets and 12 credits and the assistance of a “concierge” to “help you plan your festival” pricing in at $299.
Matthew Ardill & Jason Deline
Partners in crime we collaborate to create the Comedy Album Book Club, a deep dive into comedy history.