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Published on August 8th, 2011 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Just For Laughs 2011: That’s all she wrote

3 days.

7,436 words.

75 exclusive photos.

1 very tired journalist.

So tired that I’ve been on “vacation” for… how many days now without posting this final round-up? (Those quotation marks around “vacation” indicate “I’m technically on vacation but am visiting my parents, so… not really.”)

Let’s recap the recaps:

Amp’d, part 1 / part 2
Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends
Nerdist Podcast
WTF with Marc Maron

Daytime events:
Marc Maron’s Keynote Address
In Conversation with Louis C.K.
Andy Kindler’s State of the Industry
New Shows with Real People
The Podfathers
Master Class with Paul Feig

This was my 6th Just For Laughs – 5th as a journalist – and I think it’ll go down as my favorite.

I purposely took it easy show-wise this year, knowing from past experience that nothing burns me out faster than sitting and watching 3 or 4 shows per night. I used to do this. It was great and awful all at the same time.

Besides, who has the time? Aside from sitting in these events, there’s the time writing, processing photos, trying to upload them using crappy hotel wifi, promoting the links on other sites, being social at the Hyatt, travel time between venues…. My shoulder was sore from carrying my laptop around everywhere, my face was sore from having a constant “wtf?” look on it when I was told five different things by three different people, and my feet were sore from walking so damn much.

It’s a lot.

My goal each year is to churn out as much quality content as I can. I sacrifice sleep and parties and simply experiencing Montreal, just to create something that might make you think “God, I wish I was there”. Maybe next year you will be.

Nobody is paying my way to JFL. The flights, the hotel… it all comes out of my pocket. I do it because I care enough about comedy that I want other people to make the decision to go experience it too. It’s a bit of a crazy thing to do, ain’t it?

Here are some new lessons, and important reminders, about the Just For Laughs experience:

Life is definitely better without networking lunches and off-site parties.
Seriously. You don’t need it. Stick around the Hyatt and have conversations like an adult, instead of seeking out throbbing bass elsewhere. (Besides, I heard they ran out of vodka at the Funny Or Die party.)

Make friends with someone trying to order drinks at the Hyatt bar on Saturday.
I waited 20 minutes to get served, insult added when the bartender served the person beside me who hadn’t been waiting nearly as long. A Toronto friend slipped me $20 so I could add her drinks to my order, and she didn’t have to suffer the same fate.

Comics give a shit about your drunk ass. When a pretty young thing (not with the festival) consumed a little too much of something on the Friday night, and appeared to be comatose on a sofa, more attention went into getting her help than sending out smartass tweets about it. (This isn’t surprising. I just felt it worth putting out there.)

The biggest names are spending less time at the hotel bar. In the Delta days, it wasn’t uncommon to see the gala hosts hanging around the party until the wee hours. Maybe it’s the lack of security at the Hyatt that spooks ‘em? (Or the 20-minute wait to get a drink?)

Pace yourself, pace yourself, pace yourself. It’s tough to resist hitting the ground running the moment you arrive. Three daytime events and three evening shows on day 1 meant that I was spending a good chunk of time in my room the following evening. As someone else said, the pace is “a lot like Vegas”.

Except that while I’m around, what happens there, doesn’t stay there.

See ya next year!


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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