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Published on July 2nd, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson

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Just For Laughs: Magical Box of Scheduling, cont'd

If a show is performed at Just For Laughs and no industry people are there to see it, does it really take place?

JFL’s new alt-comedy offshoot festival Zoofest is heavy on content from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatres in New York and LA. This is a great thing, as it gives members of the comedy industry flocking to Montreal a chance to catch shows from UCB performers who have thusfar gone “undiscovered”.

Included in the schedule is Chris Gethard’s Magical Box of Stories. The show has gotten stellar word of mouth around NYC. I’ve adored watching Gethard in other incarnations (he’s a member of the UCB house team The Stepfathers), and I’ve stated previously that he’s my pick to be the next big star to be plucked from the UCB.

Sounds like prime, fresh meat for the industry to gnaw on, yes? One problem: this is a one-show-only engagement, Saturday afternoon at 3:00. Which means he’s up against 2 (two!) different official industry events. The truly awful part? One event he’s competing for industry attention against is entitled “UCB THEATRE PANEL”, which will “focus on the history and methodology of one of today’s most influential launching pads for comedy”.

UCB_mainlogoIs there a worse scheduling scenario possible? It’s essentially “tell me” vs. “show me”, pitting UCB against UCB. The very people who should be schlepping it up the street in the Montreal humidity to possibly do the launching of a UCB star will most likely opt for the air conditioned comfort of a Hyatt conference room to learn about those who’ve already been launched. I have a strong urge to send Gethard an FTD condolences bouquet.

As for that panel, at least 2 UCB co-founders can be expected to participate: Matt Besser, who is listed as a performer for the festival, and Matt Walsh, who isn’t listed but confirmed his attendance on Twitter earlier this week. For those of us already familiar with the UCB, it’s likely to be a tad painful – albeit entertaining – to watch the guys try to explain longform improv to the same execs who brought us Thank God You’re Here.

The remainder of the Industry schedule is a lot of the standard fare — panel of development execs, a few of writers, a few web-related ones. The lineup, seen here, http://web2.hahaha.com/conference/schedule/, has been constantly in flux since its unveiling a week ago (Colbert Report writer and native Montrealer Barry Julien was deleted within hours, and Nathan Kahane of Mandate Pictures shortly after that).

Still on the fence? The Industry early bird deadline has been extended a second time, this time to July 5th.

If you’re planning on attending shows as a ticket-buyer, a few tips: the Zoofest shows end up being a few dollars cheaper via www.zoofest.ca than through www.hahaha.com, so you may find it beneficial to split your ticket order into 2. An exception to this are Paul Provenza’s Green Room shows, which the Zoofest site won’t process properly (they know about it, they just haven’t fixed it). Also, if you sat on your ass and didn’t buy a Louis CK ticket, good luck to ya — the show is completely sold out.

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And Toronto! Let’s not forget Toronto, land of the municipal workers’ strike, where visitors are stepping over heaps of steaming garbage and wondering why the hell they came here. In my last post, I bemoaned (I’m good at bemoaning) the lack of information regarding the Toronto “Headliners” series. JFL still hasn’t provided a schedule on their website, but never fear, Yuk Yuk’s has since posted the info themselves: http://www.yukyuks.com/location.aspx?LocationID=11&PageID=15

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.



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