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Published on July 23rd, 2009 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Just For Laughs: The Hills, Chris Gethard, & Marc Maron

First order of business: John Cleese is not dying. Yes, he had to cancel his Gala appearance last night due to prostatitis. But he’s not on death’s door — I saw him saunter through the exit of the Hyatt this morning, looking a little tired (stressed?) but otherwise in one piece. So Pythonheads and gala ticketholders, don’t panic. Based on my non-professional medical assessment from glancing at him as he walked by me, he’ll be ready for the rescheduled gala on Sunday night. More info on that here: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Replacement+show+John+Cleese/1818295/story.html


Other shows from last night that I want to give mention to: The Hills, Chris Gethard’s Magic Box of Stories, and Marc Maron’s Scorching The Earth.

The Hills: A Staged Reading is exactly what it sounds like. A lineup of Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre performers (Aubrey Plaza, Lennon Parham, Tami Sagher, Reggie Watts, Andy Daly, Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) held simple black binders, stepping forward to deliver the insipid dialogue in the most serious of tones. This simple formula is a product of UCBT-LA, and the results are incredibly pleasing. Reggie Watts in particular made a hilarious Brody (just picture it) and Aubrey Plaza was a better Lauren Conrad than Lauren herself.


The Hills was paired with Chris Gethard’s Magic Box of Stories, which I was thrilled to see after hearing so much about it. Audience members were selected to pull index cards from a box, which would dictate which absolutely true story Gethard would tell. On this night: tales about being a wrestling manager named White Pimp, being on assignment for Weird New Jersey magazine, and going through a herpes scare. What makes the show truly great are the video clips of his mother commenting on each story via videotape. She approves of virtually nothing he’s done, and her reactions are priceless. If my schedule allowed it, I’d attend his Saturday matinee of the show as well, as the content is guaranteed to be different.


I’ve been anxious to see Marc Maron for ages, and after a few near misses I was thrilled to see him on the schedule for JFL. Myself and an oddly sparse crowd (4 people total within the first 4 rows, though it filled out in back) were treated to a very dark and funny show centring around his two past marriages.

“There’s a blurb you don’t see in theatre posters – ‘Draining! 5 stars!'” he joked partway through.

Indeed, it’s a little heavy. But it’s funny, and his complete acknowledgment of his own behavior and mistakes makes it comfortable to take the ride with him. We know that despite his claims otherwise, he wouldn’t be so self-aware if he were as much of an asshole as the stories illustrate.

“I don’t know how many times I can stick my dick into a hurricane and expect different results,” he said.

What he shares seems less like his truth, and more like the truth about the destruction of his relationships. At times, it’s almost as if he’s witnessed all this from afar, or is talking about a whole other person. He never mentions being in therapy, but it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming this enlightened on their own. Chalk this one up as a “must see”.

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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