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.
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.
Wow, it's been a year already?! Thanks to everyone for being such an amazing gift! To Neil Jones for helping us get off the ground, to Andrea Miller and the folks at the Social Capital Theatre for being such amazing hosts! To Helena Marie for sitting in when Jason was sick and to every single guest Jules, Olivia, Craig, Martha, Jeremy, Nug, Sharilyn, Adam McNamara, Jordan, Jon, Kat, Allan, Katie, Dave, Dan, Sean, Ian, Meryle, Kyle Betts and Kyle Scott, Neil, Derek, Adam Kenneth Wilson and Adam Bailey, Peter, Nigel and Heather. Thanks also to every artist who's albums we've had the joy of listening to. It's been a real journey for Jason and myself to examine these comedy gems both new and old and we look forward to many more episodes to come!
Unfortunately this month Jason couldn't join us so I (Matt Ardill @commonperson) had the pleasure of hosting the podcast. I was lucky enough to sit down with Peter Hill (@peterjameshill) and Sharilyn Johnson (@thirdbeat) to discuss the Robin Williams album A Night At The Met! It was a night to relive memories of our youth and laugh out loud from The Social Capital Theatre (@thesocap). We hope you enjoy the episode and we miss you Robin.
Matthew Ardill & Jason Deline
Partners in crime we collaborate to create the Comedy Album Book Club, a deep dive into comedy history.