MONTREAL – The laughs will linger longer in July. Just for Laughs execs have heeded the complaints of patrons and have extended the anglo portion of the festival to three weeks instead of the usual one – except for the Nasty Show series, which had always run the week before the logjam of English-language shows.
In this new scheme of events, the Nasty Show series will run July 14 to 16, along with other shows to be announced later. During the following week, the Ethnic Show series will get top billing, July 21 to 24. And in the last week of July, it will be the standard madness of the galas and one-man shows, not to mention the street festivities.
Schedule changes will result in venue changes. The galas will now take place in Place des Arts, not Théâtre St. Denis. The Nasty Show series will now be unleashed at the Metropolis, while the Ethnic Show series will move to Club Soda. Prior to this year, Club Soda had always been home to the Nasty Show.
In addition to schedule and venue changes, there have been significant hosting changes. In the case of the Nasty Show, it was unavoidable with the sudden death of last year’s host, Greg Giraldo. But festival programmer Robbie Praw has reached out to one of the biggest and nastiest and funniest folks in the business in Jeff Ross, the “Roastmaster General” who has earned his spurs eviscerating celebs on the Roast circuit.
Organizers have scored a coup on the remporter le gros lot a la machine à sous Ethnic Show front as well. Taking over the reins will be Middle Eastern comedy sensation Maz Jobrani. Not as nasty as Ross, Jobrani will still blow away audiences with the same ease as the Roastmaster General.
“It’s probably a good thing that the biggest complaint we get is that people are not able to take in more festival shows, because they all tend to take place at the same time,” Praw says. “Now Montrealers will have the opportunity to see more and different shows.”
Praw is so confident that audiences will cotton to the acidic Ross that he has booked the Nasty Show series at the Metropolis, which has double the capacity of Club Soda. Then again, this year’s Nasty Show will run only three – not six – nights, and Ross will preside over eight – not 15 – shows.
“The Nasty Show has been around for so long and has been such a festival staple that we felt we had to do something bigger and bring it up another level, and to get the guy who could do that,” Praw says. “Ross is, without question, one of the most outrageous and shocking comics around. Not only will he host, but he will also be roasting Montreal and Montrealers.
“Those who feel the Nasty Show has gotten soft will see and hear nastiness like never before. And, seriously, I strongly recommend that anyone who is not sure whether or not they can stomach it all to stay away.”
Not the usual sales pitch one gets from a festival programmer. But Praw is not just kibitzing here. To prove that point, here is a selection of Ross’s – more printable – carvings:
On Larry King: “Even the title of his show, Larry King Live, was an oxymoron. He will spend his retirement opening a jar.”
On William Shatner: “You’ve let yourself boldly go. When did you go from Captain Kirk to Cap’n Crunch? Do you work on Boston Legal or at Boston Market? I wish that just once your spaceship could have landed on a planet with an acting school.”
On Abe Vigoda: “He wants to invite all of you to his funeral on Tuesday … at the Museum of Natural History.”
On Whitney Cummings: “She has been very busy, working on three pilots, and that was just on her way in here tonight.”
On John McCain: “I thought he was taking part in a candlelight vigil, but then I realized he was just blowing out candles on his birthday cake.”
On coming to the Just for Laughs festival last summer: “There were so many comics on my flight into Montreal that we had to go through an insecurity checkpoint.”
Also on the Nasty Show bill will be Anthony Jeselnik, a writer on the Jimmy Fallon late-night show and an up-and-coming comedy reprobate who distinguished himself most recently in the roasting of Donald Trump. To wit: “It’s been a rough year in comedy. We lost Greg Giraldo, but we kept Jeff Ross.” Should be really interesting with the two of them on the same show.
Joining Jobrani – who bears an uncanny resemblance to Howie Mandel – on the Ethnic Show will be the fast-rising Sebastian Maniscalco, who will bring a different Italian comedy dimension to proceedings.
The Nasty Show, hosted by Jeff Ross, runs July 14 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and July 15 and 16 at 7, 9:30 and 11:59 p.m. at the Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine St. E. Tickets: $39.50. The Ethnic Show, hosted by Maz Jobrani, runs July 21 to 24 at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at Club Soda, 1225 St. Laurent Blvd. Tickets: $35.50. Tickets for both shows go on sale Monday at the Just for Laughs and specific theatre box offices. Tickets for both shows are available to Just for Laughs club members as of Thursday. For more information, call 514-845-2322 or go to www.hahaha.com.