While it went through some growing pains, Toronto's offshoot of Montreal's famous Just For Laughs festival has finally come into its own.
This year, with the addition of double the amount of headliners they had last year, there was no shortage in ticket sales. The festival grew exponentially and, lucky for me, many laughs were had.
Of course - I did end up seeing a few duds - Dave Attell was angry and just seemed to hate that the audience didn't find his every word hilarious at the midnight Thursday show. Tim Minchin just wasn't my kind of comedy (music comedy very rarely works because jokes are hard enough to make funny for 30 seconds, nevermind 3 minutes). Joe Rogan's attempt at humour was so sexist, bigoted and racist he actually had to clarify at the end of the show that he doesn't actually believe all the horrible stuff he jokes about. Talented comedians don't ever have to explain away their set in fear of the reviews. And Broad City was just awful, which broke me because I adore them and their show.
But for the most part, it was a solid showing. Here are some of the best sets I had the chance to see at the festival this year.
The one and only Amy Schumer easily proved why she was the opening headliner for the 10 day festival with the signature humour she brings to her show, Inside Amy Shumer. No other performer took the stage in a blaze of glory, hilariously reveling in the applause. She noted that as a female comedian she gets called out as a 'sex focused' comedian, when her male counterparts can talk just as freely onstage without being labeled as such. Basically, she rules.
Offerman's show was billed as music comedy experience called "Full Bush." Having already witnessed Tim Minchin's meandering musical comedy set, I was worried. But thankfully, my love for Ron Swanson only grew that night, as he understands perfectly how to execute the daunting task of making a song funny for 3 minutes. Stand up jokes and conversation with the audience helped balance out the song portion while giving each song a strong, hilarious lead in that added to it. If you get the chance to see him live, definitely take it.
The filmmaker brought his one man show to the festival, and it was an unexpected highlight for me. I had always heard good things, but had no idea what the show would bring. Bits about his wife connected back throughout the night in a way that showed himself as a truly incredible comedy writer who knows how to bring it full circle. And his closing piece, about a joke he did that angered director David O. Russell, was absolutely brilliant.
Nikki Glaser was the shining surprise of night one for me, opening for Dave Attell, her set blew his away. The girl took second place on Last Comic Standing, and she certainly proved why during her short but flawless opening set. Jokes about how awful sober sex is, and the odd types of porn you can find out there if you type just about anything in, had the crowd loving every second of her act. Relatable and funny, she easily showed why the girls ruled the festival this year.