The 34th edition of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal was nothing less than spectacular this year. From the incredible lineup to parties and from the beautiful city it resides in to the people that inhabit it. The festival is an oasis of comedy memories, meet-ups, breakthroughs, and discovery.
This year saw appearances from heavy hitters like Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari, Brian Regan, David Cross, Jimmy Kimmel, The cast of Veep, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen, and the Canadian comic Mike Ward, who has been fined $42,000 for jokes he’s told. There were New Faces, One-Man-Shows, musical acts (Goddamn Comedy Jam), street performers, and more podcasts both taped and live than can be counted on two hands. There also were the final shows from the phenomenon that was Trump VS Bernie starring Anthony Atamanuik and James Adomian respectively. (We can only hope you had the chance to catch this one.)
We also saw new ground broken with the tapings of Jeff Ross presents: Roast Battle which then aired on Comedy Central culminating in a live broadcast on its final night. You can read all about the show’s victor, Mike Lawrence, and how it all went down right here. Awards were also abound in Montreal with the likes of Alec Berg, Mike Judge, Maria Bamford, Sebastian Maniscalco, Judd Apatow, and Aziz Ansari all being recognized by JFL this year.
The Awards Show had quite the aesthetic upgrade. The showcase took place in the Grand Salon Opera room in front of a jam-packed audience. The event was hosted by JB Smoove who entered the room to the sounds of Prince and quickly worked the crowd into a frenzy. Dressed to the nines, Smoove played it cool throughout adding some precious gems spontaneously as the events unfolded. The awards handed out include “Comedy Person of the Year: Aziz Ansari,” “Stand-Up Comedian of the Year: Sebastian Maniscalco,” “Breakout Comedy Star of the Year: Maria Bamford,” “Comedy Writers of the Year: Alec Berg/Mike Judge,” and the “Generation Award: Judd Apatow.”
Each award winner was brought to the stage by a person of their choosing who told stories and presented clips. “I would give anything to have a personality like yours” John Mulaney said after being introduced by JB Smoove. Mulaney was on hand to present for Berg and Judge. He pieced together a presentation based on responses from those who worked with the two over the years. Upon receiving their award Berg said, “This is one of those shows where everyone is a winner” and Judge stated, “There’s nothing like having to write a speech after winning a ‘Writer of the Year Award'”.
Comedian and long time friend of Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian, was on hand to present Bamford with the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year Award. It’s been a big year for the Lady Dynamite star who told stories of struggle and recovery. “The worst shows are the ones that make the best stories.” She then gave her award to Kashian for all of her years of support and friendship. Quite a gesture.
Next up was the award for “Stand Up of the Year”. This involved our Riotcast counterparts and hosts of the Pete & Sebastian Show podcast Pete Correale who presented Sebastian Maniscalco with the prestigious honor. Correale’s impression of his friend was beyond spot on while Maniscalco embarrassingly admitted to not preparing a speech after begging the his hotel to beef up the waitstaff. “I’m sick of watching the maid make a rum and coke.”
Then Andy Dick took to the stage. He was there on behalf of this year’s Generation Award winner Judd Apatow who’s movie making has spawned a new generation of comedic film. The two go way back and it showed. Apatow’s address to the crowd became quite serious once he moved past embarrassing his daughter who was in the front row. He paid tribute to the late-great Garry Shandling, his mentor. “Everything that I do is just to tell everyone what Garry told me,” he said.
And finally, the award for Comedy Person of the Year brought the evening to a close and was quite possibly the funniest moment of the entire show. Nick Kroll was on board to present to his friend Aziz Ansari and opened by saying, “When Aziz’s reps called my reps to ask me if I’d like to present this award, I thought, ‘Man we are good friends’.” The crowd erupted with laughter. Upon receiving his award, Ansari addressed the circumstances of which he, and he fellow awards winners, were placed when they agreed to take part in the event. “We’re sitting up here for two hours and then they put all this water on stage and we can’t get up to take a piss!” He went on to joke about how hard it is for a comic to hang out for two hours and not look bored at any point during the award show. Great stuff from the star and creator of the Netflix smash hit Master of None. A great ending to a great show.