It’s coming up on the end of September and you know what that means: it’s almost time for JFL42! Toronto’s comedy festival starts on September 22 and runs until October 1. If you have a pass and have looked at the lineup you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. There are so many shows! How do you choose who to see? We’ve got you covered.
For our JFL42 preview, we thought that it would be a good idea to give you what we’ll call our starter pack. Assuming that you bought a four credit headliner pass, our recommendations should get you on your way. With the reusable credit system that JFL42 employs you can keep going to show after show, but we want to make sure that the first five shows that you book are winners.
Headliner: Tig Notaro
Since we limited ourselves to just one headliner pick we felt like we couldn’t go wrong no matter who we chose. While we are huge fans of all of the headliners, we went with Tig Notaro because she’s hilarious and she is most likely to provide one of the most talked about shows of the festival. After her HBO special, Boyish Girl, Interrupted and Grammy nominated album, LIVE, and her new Amazon show One Mississippi, Tig has been one of comedy’s biggest newsmakers over the last couple of years. Though we haven’t seen her latest set, there is a good chance that she has something else that is memorable up her sleeve. Mixing funny material with very personal stories, Tig Notaro is one of the most unique performers working today.
Tig Notaro performs on September 25 and is in conversation during that afternoon.
The 42 #1: Cameron Esposito
If you don’t know Cameron Esposito’s comedy, you should. If you don’t go to see her at JFL42, you’ll regret it. The star of SeeSo’s new series, Take My Wife is bringing her stand-up to Toronto and it would be hard to think of a better act to include in your festival schedule. Cameron draws on personal experiences for a source of material. As a lesbian who experienced a very religious childhood, Cameron Esposito takes her very personal stories and always provides audiences with relatable jokes that will leave you in stitches.
Cameron Esposito performs the evenings of September 22-24.
The 42 #2: Kumail Nanjiani
Are you looking for some mid-week laughs? Kumail Nanjiani should have you covered. He is now probably best known for his role as Dinesh on Silicon Valley, but Kumail is also an accomplished stand-up comedian. As one of the leaders of the Los Angeles alt comedy scene, Kumail Nanjiani is respected by his peers and adored by audiences. If we were in Toronto mid-week during JFL42, we would be using one of our credits to see him, but unfortunately it won’t work out for us this year. Don’t miss out on seeing him, if you have the chance.
Kumail Nanjiani performs the evenings of September 27 and 28.
The 42 #3: Maria Bamford
Before we talk more about Maria, we want to make it clear that although we’ve numbered these acts, we’re not saying that one is better than the other. Rather we like them all. We want to make that clear because Maria Bamford is simply one of our favourite stand up comedians. Period. She’s delightful, she’s unique, she’s hilarious. We missed out on her solo show at Just for Laughs in Toronto, but we did get to see her as part of Eugene Mirman’s podcast taping. Seeing her perform live was a real treat. We weren’t surprised given how funny all of her work is, but seeing her was an experience that no comedy fan should miss out. If you can, book your tickets for Maria Bamford ASAP and get ready for her set by bingeing her fantastic Netflix series, Lady Dynamite.
Maria Bamford performs the evenings of September 22 and 23.
The 42 #4: Natasha Leggero
There is a real mix of comedians performing and we’ve tried to provide you with very different perspectives. Natasha Leggero works a little more blue than the other three comedians that we listed. If that’s what you are looking for, her show will be as good as any at this year’s JFL42. Natasha has incredible stage presence and she’s also a great joke writer. If you are looking for proof just go to YouTube, type in “Natasha Leggero Roast”, and get ready for some of the funniest (and meanest) jokes you’ve heard. Last year we saw Natasha’s husband, Moshe Kasher at JFL42 and we’re hoping to catch her show this time around.
Natasha Leggero performs the evenings of September 30 and October 1. She is also in conversation during the afternoon of September 30.
We know that we said, we’d list our top four picks among “The 42”, but there are a few other performers that we have seen in the past that we want to mention. If you are looking for some big laughs, you should be successful if you see these performers:
- Jim Norton (September 24)
- Margaret Cho (September 23 and 24)
- Ron Funches (September 29)
- Neal Brennan (September 27-30)
- Todd Barry (September 22-25)