Published on July 11th, 2010 | by Sharilyn Johnson


JFL Toronto: Saturday Night’s More Than Alright

This was my night to be on the run — hitting up 3 shows, or, perhaps more accurately 1 show and 2 chunks.

I was shocked to learn before departing for the 8pm Double Threat show at Yuk Yuk’s that it was not sold out. What? This was a double bill of Todd Barry and Noel Fielding, for cryin’ out loud. Easily one of the best shows of the whole Festival. Thankfully, there were only a few empty chairs by showtime, otherwise I’d have some strong words for my fellow Torontonians.

Todd Barry rocks out his half hour at Saturday's Double Threat show.

The couple I spoke with in line had no idea who they’d be seeing, so I did my best to school them whilst picking my jaw up off the sidewalk. Turns out, they weren’t alone in their random choice. It seemed that almost half the crowd was a blank slate, with the other half being fans of Fielding.

Montreal’s Derek Seguin got the show off to a killer start, even when endangering the audience’s goodwill with a cutting Leafs slam. Todd Barry went up next and was his regular kick-ass self. Unfortunately I had to miss Fielding’s set, a hiccup in my schedule that hurt just a little bit more after becoming a newly-converted fangirl at Comedy Bar the night before. But I wouldn’t leave until hearing the piercing female screams that accompanied Fielding’s ascent onto the stage.

A harrowing cab ride later (really, a cellphone AND pager while driving?) I slid through the stage door of Massey Hall just in time to witness early show host Brad Garret exit and greet a hoard of flashbulbs and autograph seekers. From what I saw, he accommodated everyone. Thumbs up.

Louis CK hosts the late Saturday gala at Massey Hall.

Unfortunately I had to take my place in the house before the anticipated arrival of last year’s gala host Sarah Silverman, in town this summer to shoot a movie. She reportedly hung out in the dressing rooms all night, as evidenced via Jimmy Carr.

When host Louis CK walked onstage to host, it seemed the ovation in the hall surprised even him. When someone like Louis gets such a deafening welcome, it kinda gives you faith in the tastes of the comedy-consuming public.

I would be there only long enough to see Louis deliver his opening set, which was 100% new-to-me (I last saw his full show in November). I will never forget the image of his female masturbation impression. And probably neither will the stagehand who had to deliver a new mic after Louis broke the first by dropping it on the ground as part of the bit.

Upon his surprisingly sweet introduction of Todd Barry, I had to tear myself away.

It hurt so very much to abandon the Massey Hall lineup (which also included Mike Wilmot, Mike Birbiglia, Jimmy Carr, and Tommy Tiernan) to haul my ass uptown and see Chris Hardwick host Best of the Fest. The schedule for Best of the Fest made it logistically impossible to attend any other nights without wiping out my entire evening, so a hard choice had to be made.

But oh, it was worth it. I’ve quickly fallen in love with the Nerdist podcast and wanted desperately to see Hardwick this week, and he didn’t disappoint. Someone please bring him back up here to headline. I beg you.

The mystery lineup included Mark Little, Maryellen Hooper, Michael Mittermeier, and Sebastian Maniscalco. Not too shabby at all! If even a few of these names had appeared on the JFL website as teasers, perhaps it would have been a sell-out.

Well, that’s it — I’m beat! A great time was had this week, and I’m as exhausted as I typically am when I hit the Montreal edition. I’d say that’s a success.

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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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    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com