Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Various Comedians; Just For Laughs Festival, July 27/07 Massey Hall, Toronto

The Just For Laughs inaugural run in our city included free outdoor shows and other events including a couple of promising bills at Massey Hall for Friday and Saturday. When Lewis Black was added to the M.C. slot as well as his scheduled performance for Friday's show, it looked like an amusing night was coming up. Richard Lewis, a veteran comic and more recently showing up on the television series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was also scheduled to perform, along with some lesser known stand-up comedians.
There was a brief introduction and the band at the back of the stage played a few bars from various tunes, which they would do between the other artists' sets. Lewis Black delivered two hilarious monologues which the audience loved. During his opening set, Black apologized for George Bush and launched into a classic Black style tirade about a trip to Salt Lake City, Mormons, a trip to a local Jesus museum, complete with a 14 foot high pop-up Jesus model, before he continued to suggest those who can't get to Salt Lake City check out Las Vegas on Christmas Eve. Despite being Jewish, Black explained, he knew there must be something wrong with a casino's giant games rooms, packed with angry slot machine gamblers, cursing to a background of Christmas carols. Lewis Black left the stage to uproarious applause, promising to come back later.
Bob Marley and Ardal O'Hanlon were the next two artists. The Irish O'Hanlon described Irish immigration as a recent reversal to the historic emigration that defined the Emerald Isle, but neither comic was stunningly funny. An MTV host delivered a few jokes as well, with some recurring gag about her wet vagina, but the next truly funny monologue came from Richard Lewis.
Lewis came out dressed in black, with his hair slicked back, "looking like Captain Kirk's Rabbi", because, he explained, he is now sixty years old and "doesn't give a fuck" - about anything. His balls hang below his penis, his parents are now dead and therefore he now forgives them, he stopped caring about seeing a shrink, because he doesn't give a fuck anymore. On a happier note, he said he felt honoured to share the Massey Hall stage with Neil Young (albeit 36 years apart), which was an honour compared to his 1977 debut at the O'Keefe Centre opening for Sonny and Cher. Richard Lewis described Bill Clinton as a possible sex addict, but at least he didn't speak English as a second language. Given how many comics quit drugs and alcohol, as Richard Lewis did, and emerge from the clean-up palpably less funny, Richard Lewis must have been pleased with his well received set.
Lewis Black returned for another monologue which went over as well as his earlier appearance. He talked about health care briefly before asking why old stem cell samples, which used to be tossed out unceremoniously, are now reclassified as sacred babies-in-waiting. Black then recalled how America has had illegal immigrants for as long as anyone can remember, yet suddenly, in 2007, it became a new hot-button issue, complete with a resulting border fence built, at least in part (and Black did not make this up), by labourers working illegally in the United States.
Jeremy Hotz is an African-born, Canadian-raised, and America-residing comedian. He made a few funny observations, comparing integration in Canada, South Africa, and in the United States, citing the de facto segregation that exists across the States. Hotz said he was awaiting a green Card, which would define him as an "African American" although he is white and grew up in Canada.
For much of the audience, the surprise of the evening must have been the night's final act, Filipino-American Jo Joy. His act bounced between discussing Asians in North America and comparing male and female organs. Koy called Chinese people "the rudest Asian people" and imitated an impatient waiter in a Chinese restaurant. He then described the vagina as a loving, intricate and detailed work of art from God, while the penis must have been an afterthought. Jo then said His afterthought, the penis, looks awful; "like a drunk falling out of the back of a car". That joke alone got a round of applause, but most of Koy's act was strong enough to keep the crowd laughing. If Lewis Black and Richard Lewis were the dependable comedic draws for this evening, Jo Koy was definitely the biggest surprise. He greeted a few fans outside Massey Hall after the show, (as did Lewis Black) and many outside seemed to agree he was one of the funniest artists of the evening.
Lewis Black picture can be seen at www.flickr.com/photos/emangrooving.

No comments: