As of January 7, 2013, this website will serve as an archive site only. For news, reviews and a connection with audience and creators of theatre all over the country, please go to The Charlebois Post - Canada.

Search This Blog

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Geniuses of Just For Laughs, 2011

Louis CK on the problem with Gay People

They the Geniuses and We the Small Press
JFL: Tosh, CK and Izzard are coming - here's what we know
By Gaƫtan L. Charlebois

Ah! Just For Laughs and the small press! It truly is a love/indifference relationship. In two decades of working for Mirror, Hour and now CharPo, my editors and I have done a fuckload of bended-kneeing before the giant. Interviews with the stars of the fest for us were always dangled but - oops! - suddenly we were tea-bagging as the stars were "not doing a lot of press" (ie: and the little they are doing will certainly not be with you!).

And even then...I was promised an interview with a British comic who insisted I be available at 5 am our time (10 his) but, don't you know, the putz had partied the night before and, needless to say, never called. Did JFL care? Not a whit. These are the ways of comics, non?

Eddie Izzard and the Death Star Canteen

JFL was brilliant at fobbing off the second-raters on us: dull quick-change artists, geek show escapees, you name it. But sometimes...well this backfired on them. Like the year they actually gave me an interview with an emerging Brit who, at that time at least, gave a joyful, hilarious interview. He was Eddie Izzard and went on to become a star.

This time, Izzard is one of three who is "doing very little press" whom CharPo asked about interviewing (along with Louis CK and Daniel Tosh). Well, that's okay, JFL. We still love you. And we'll be there again next time when Mike Birbiglia is playing here mid-winter to a half-empty opening night. In the meantime, shall we suggest what a spectator can expect from the aforementioned three of the greatest men in comedy? Let's go outside the box and do it by discussing their latest recordings.

You cannot go wrong with anything by Louis CK. He is a bubbling cauldron of rage but also devastatingly charming. He can talk about shoving food up his daughter's ass and you will scream with laughter because he has a smile which says, "We all get that I'm joking, right?" His latest outing, Hilarious, has an oh-oh moment at the beginning where he announces he is now divorced. (Immediately I was thinking of Christopher Titus' hideous Love is Evol - an endless, pathetic and tragically unfunny tear at his ex after his stunning The 5th Annual End of the World Tour). But CK isn't even bitter about his parting. He's rather happy, actually, and it only goes to set up the raucous material about his relationship with his daughters. It's horror-comedy as only he can do it.

Daniel Tosh's Happy Thoughts shows a huge evolution in the comic from his previous True Stories I Made Up (which was pretty damn unique AND funny). TV (Tosh.0) has helped him grow even while reinforcing the mind-bending arrogance that is the hallmark of his stand-up persona. Tosh has no pity. (Watch the connect between the Special Olympics and Vin Diesel in the video, below.) You will disagree with much he says but do it with a shriek of astonishment/laughter. The upshot of a bit he does about fucking the baby of Brad Pitt and David Beckham is worth the price of the download.

Izzard? Well Izzard is always brill isn't he? His Live From Wembley, though, is Sexie for a bigger crowd. Now if you have one or the other, you might consider the second purchase because that is Izzard's genius. He very rarely does the same thing the same way. His humour (like Mike Birbiglia's who, by the way, Izzard admires) is all about the tangents. He is a high-wire act who, depending on whether or not the audience understands a joke or finds it funny, will change course. On his very first visit to Montreal, it was scary to watch! (His fans "get him" now.) Wembley opens with a discussion of his transvestism and whether he will or will not wear the boobs. But the must-download of the recording is his riff on predictive text on the cellphone. (To my mind, for  your money, his best - downloadable - moments to date are "Deathstar Canteen" from Circle and "James Bond" from Definite Article.)

There you have it: an Outsider's Guide to the stars. Have a good fest!

Daniel Tosh's Happy Thoughts is available on iTunes. Tosh.0 is on The Comedy Network. His concert, Completely Serious, is available on Netflix.

Louis CK's Hilarious is available on iTunes. His concert, Chewed Up, is available on Netflix. The first season of his TV series, Louis, is also available for download at iTunes.

Eddie Izzard's Live From Wembley is available on iTunes (his discussion, Live From London, is available - free - on iTunes as well). The concert he is doing here, Stripped, is available as a DVD in PAL format. 


  1. Impressive seeing Tosh cross the 'retard' line and pull it off. I've seen so many comics try to make retard-jokes only to succeed in alienating their audiences. I suppose his success is in that he addresses that we are amoral for laughing at his jokes. A good lesson for any aspiring comics out there...

  2. This kind of comedy is the most dangerous. The greatness of a comic is whether or not his/her audience permits it. It's a strange relationship (at its best, a kind of shared madness). Louis CK does a riff on the words "faggot", "nigger" and "cunt" (it's on youtube). And it's brilliant.


Please read our guidelines for posting comments.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.