Days 3 & 4 of JFL Montreal

Yep, that’s Andy Kindler performing in Katacombes in front of what’s been oft-described by comedians as a skull tree. Also, it’s standing room only leaving me to take a weirdly framed picture like this during Kindler’s Alternative Show two nights ago. That’s only the tip of the iceberg of two days filled with a “call to arms” by Patton Oswalt and watching Marc Maron and The Sklar Brothers do the improvised stand-up show, Set List, like it was regular material.

In short, our 3rd and 4th days at Just For Laughs in Montreal would have been comedy overload had it not been for awesome it has been.

After watching this stacked Alternative Show that had Patton Oswalt, Pete Holmes, Kurt Braunohler, and more, the label “alternative” becomes nearly superfluous when it should be replaced with “funniest thing you’ve seen in quite some time”. Oswalt impersonated Kindler and recounted doing stand-up in Germany, Braunohler presented his altered greeting cards that he places back in the stores he purchased them in, and Jerry Minor had a ridiculous musical trio that danced around dressed half-rap video/half medieval themed casino. It’s not traditional stand-up, or even, traditional comedy for that matter, but it’s unequivocally hilarious, which really should be the only distinction. Everyone killed without regard to how big they were or what their style of comedy. Pete Holmes tells jokes and both Deanne Smith & Sam Simmons throw food to an audience that couldn’t have had been laugh harder because, quite simply, it was just damn funny.

Patton Oswalt’s also gave the Keynote Address for JFL this year, which struck a much-needed-to-be-struck chord. In the frame of two letters, one to comedians at the festival and the other to the industry, Oswalt claims that everything he’s learned about comedy has become useless on a regular basis for “there are no more gates to keep” and that the days of being lucky and having stuff given to you as a performer are going away. As Louis CK has changed the entire game with his self-production and distribution, Patton emphatically stated that talent no longer needs industry. Technology for the creators has advanced so far and will continue to do so that a comedian can have the power of a network in their smart phone. So, he suggested that the comedians become more DIY with their career as many are doing right now, recounting Oswalt’s experience behind the Comedians of Comedy, and the industry get more excited, ”I want you, all of the gatekeepers, to become fans, to become thrill-seekers. I want you to be as charged with hope as I am.” As you might have guessed, there was a standing ovation at the end. A full transcript of this address is available at The Comic’s Comic.

We’ve covered a lot of ground thus far, but there’s still plenty to go with New Faces, the Eddie Pepitone documentary, The Bitter Buddha, and more, especially since it’s JFL’s 30th anniversary.