Early on my second day in Montreal for the Comedia Festival, I paid a visit to the main office of the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, to say hello to my gracious hosts. I was warmly welcomed by Jon from the festival, one of its coordinators and a great ambassador to the festival scene. Surprisingly, most of the Juste Pour Rire crew was at their office. I asked Jon why so much of the event happens at night, with less activity during the daylight hours. He was quick to point out that the Quebecois population take their summer festival days seriously, and it’s nearly impossible to get folks to come inside from the beautiful summer weather and the free outdoor events. Makes sense.
It’s understandable, what with the amazing weather here. It’s overcast and cloudy, but amazingly cool and refreshing (especially to a guy who just got done moving boxes and furniture in the 100-degree Texas sun). This was put to great use at the open-air, outdoor party hosted by The Hollywood Reporter. With a nice bar of Labatt Blue and Chinese food, the festival’s comics and industry had an opportunity to mingle. I happened to meet a documentary crew working on a feature film about the stand-up industry. Think Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian film, but about relative unknowns instead of old pros. The whole Hollywood Reporter shindig made me anxious to stay outdoors.
Speaking of which, I got a chance to experience the amazing Just For Laughs street fair. It’s a standard community/family fair, but definitely very Franco-friendly. In other words, a lot of interactive theater, performance art, and modern dance pieces. The childrens’ shows were something out of Cirque du Soleil, and there was very little English to be heard throughout the entire crowd. But it’s an insanely communal event, more so than many other city street fairs you find in the States. The biggest difference, I suppose, was that so much of it was free to the public.
Before the street fair, I attended the World Stupidity Awards. Hosted by Daily Show regular Lewis Black, this was an awards gala dedicated to honoring the stupidest aspects of the last 12 months in pop culture. A sample: comedian Sinbad (who was not funny) presented the Stupidest Thing Said award to George W. Bush declaring major combat in Iraq had ended. Meanwhile, comic Andy Kindler (who was the highlight of the whole show) presented the Stupidest TV Show award to The O’Reilly Factor. Pauly Shore presented the Stupidest Movie award, and it was a tie between The Passion of the Christ and Gigli. The ceremony ended with a bizarre performance from Mini-KISS, the little people KISS tribute band.
I also saw a very nice French feature, entitled Au Secours J’ai 30 ans. The festival programmer in me wants to seek it out, to see what it’s stateside festival plans are. It’s a newer film, and a nice family comedy centered around a middle-aged man dying of cancer, and his dysfunctional friends and relatives.
The night isn’t over yet. More tomorrow as I make my way to the always-jumping bar at the Delta Hotel. Let’s see which castmembers of Saturday Night Live will be singing karaoke this time…