Our Top Picks for This Year’s JFL42 Festival

FQJwCabPIt’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 Notarotig-n_520-x-325_v01a

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 Espositocameron-e

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 Nanjianibnw_520x325_kumail

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 Bamfordmaria-b_520-x-325_v01a

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 Leggeronatasha-l_520-x-325_v01a

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.

Other Favorites:

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)

A Final Recap of Our Weekend at Just for Laughs

Courtesy of Just for Laughs

Courtesy of Just for Laughs

Well, that’s another whirlwind weekend in Montreal for Just for Laughs. After attending the festival, it always feels like the week/weekend was a bit of a blur. We saw so many shows! We found ourselves running from one performance to the next trying to fit in as many satisfying Montreal meals as Continue reading

Hannibal Buress at Just for Laughs

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One thing that you can count on at Just for Laughs is that the festival schedule will include the most relevant and notable comedians that year. For that reason, it was no surprise that Hannibal Buress was scheduled to perform and when we saw his name announced, we knew that his show was one we did not want to miss. Hannibal’s last few specials have been among our favourites in recent years and Continue reading

Steve Rannazzisi Opened Up About His 9/11 Story at Just for Laughs

steve_ran_bio_745x490We’anae sure that all of the This is Not Happening shows at Just for Laughs had special moments. That said, last night’s final performance was a pretty unique experience for those people who were in the audience. The topic of the night was repentance. After Ari Shaffir and his first three guests each told their stories, Steve Rannazzisi took the stage as the night’s final performer. Everyone up to that point was pretty Continue reading

Oh, Hello at Just for Laughs

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It’s hard to believe that Kroll Show debuted in 2013 and is already off the air. Time really does fly. When we saw the first few episodes of Kroll Show we knew that we were seeing something unique. The bits were different than what any other sketch show was doing and we loved it. Along with Wheels, Ontario, our absolutely favorite sketches were the ones with the Too Much Tuna guys. So, when we first found out that Nick Kroll and John Mulaney were bringing Continue reading

Louis CK at Just for Laughs

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We’ve always wanted to see Louis CK perform live. It seemed like every time that he had a show anywhere even close to us there was some reason we couldn’t go. This year, we finally got our wish and had the opportunity to see Louis in Montreal at Continue reading

Nick Thune at Just for Laughs

nick_thune_bio_745x490Nick Thune is a revered guy on the alt comedy scene. He’s a regular at some of the hippest spots in Los Angeles, has a Comedy Central special to his name, and has appeared on several TV shows. This was his third time appearing at Off-JFL, but we’d never been able to make it to his shows before. He’s always made a strong impression on us so we were excited to finally see him perform live at Continue reading

In a Couple of Days We’ll be at Just for Laughs

l_just-for-laughs@2x-festivalHere we are again. It is late July and Just for Laughs is underway. We’re only able to start our 2016 Just for Laughs adventure this week, but the world’s largest comedy festival has been in full swing for a few days already.

This year, we’re once again lucky enough to be covering the festival up close and in person. We plan on starting things off on Thursday and will be sticking around until Sunday. In total, our plan is to attend 14 shows. That’s a lot of shows.  By the end Continue reading

Twelve Kevin Hart Shows and Other Just for Laughs News

l_just-for-laughs@2x-festivalAnother day, another big Just for Laughs announcement. Today, we learned that Kevin Hart will be hosting twelve comedy shocases over six nights from July 26-31 at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.

The twelve shows will be filmed for Kevin’s new online service, Laugh Out Loud Network. Want to  talk about a way to get the new network kickstarted? This is one heckuva way to put your service out there. Shows will take place Continue reading

Pitch Your Pilot Idea to Kevin Hart at JFL

l_just-for-laughs@2x-festivalToday, Just for Laughs announced that Kevin Hart will be making a festival appearance on July 28th at 1pm. He will be hosting the aptly named, Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Network Pitch. During the panel, comedians will get a chance to pitch pilot ideas to Kevin for his new Laugh Out Loud platform.

Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Network Pitch is part of Just for Laughs ComedyPRO. If you’re interested Continue reading

More Just for Laughs Announcements!

l_just-for-laughs@2x-festivalAnother day, another handful of exciting names added to this year’s Just for Laughs festival lineup.

We’re eagerly awaiting this year’s festival, which is now only about a month and a half away. With an ever growing lineup of comedy heavy hitters, we’re starting to figure out our strategy to see as many shows as possible.

Here are today’s announced lineup additions: Continue reading

Oh Bhoy! Danny Bhoy is Touring Canada This Fall

2012-UK-Tour-squareIt’s been a couple of years since we last saw Danny Bhoy perform. It was at a Just for Laughs gala in Montreal during the festival. The main thing that we remember from that night was that he destroyed.

Danny Bhoy brought big laughs when we saw him and later that weekend when we watched some more of his stand-up on YouTube. We still quote one of Continue reading

The First Big ‘Just for Laughs’ Lineup Announcement!

l_just-for-laughs@2x-festivalThere are a few big days on our calendar each year. There are birthdays, Christmas, Canada Day, and maybe best of all, theentire Just for Laughs festival. When big lineup announcements are made for the festival, we get really excited. We wade through the lineup to see who we want to see and after we realize that there are more shows than time, we think about how lucky we are that we live so close to Montreal. The end of July may seem like a long ways off, but it’ll be here before we know it.

Just for Laughs has so many comedians performing that there is bound to be someone at the festival that will be appeal to almost any sensibility. Whether you’re a hipster, conservative, vegan, into punk music, like trapeze artists, want to laugh at hillbillies, support Donald Trump’s quest to take over the world, hate flying, love flying, are a little too into ABBA, love dusting the house, or just enjoy a couple drinks and lots of laughs, you’ll find a show that is just for you.

Here’s the full list of announcements made today: Continue reading

Just for Laughs Announcement: Jimmy Carr and Gad Elmaleh

CfMlTnRWsAAAwbk CfMndH5WsAMN3ptYesterday, Just for Laughs announced the first of what we know will be many solo shows for this summer’s festival in Montreal. Jimmy Carr and Gad Elmaleh will be performing Continue reading

Bill Burr Delivers Big Laughs in Ottawa

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Last night, Bill Burr took the The Arena at TD Place by storm. Burr worked through about an hour and a half of material leaving the audience with a sense that they more than got their money’s worth.

A trademark of Burr is his take no prisoners approach to comedy. With no topic off limits, Bill Burr went to work on a variety of hilarious Continue reading