Later this week, the city of Toronto will host JFL42. JFL42 is the little brother of the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. For those of you who don’t know, Toronto just so happens to be Canada’s biggest and best city for comedy, despite the fact the original Just For Laughs Festival is in Montreal. The Montreal festival only serves to temporarily make Montreal’s comedy scene the Comedy Mecca of the World, for about a month. When push comes to shove, Toronto’s scene just has more to offer.
Toronto draws talent from across the country because the chance to pursue a career in North America’s 4th biggest market is too good to pass up. For comedians from north of the border, it is a great city to cut your teeth in and potentially forge a career. Recently, I moved to Toronto and I find myself overwhelmed at the opportunity to both do and see comedy. It would take well over a month to see it all under other circumstances.
That’s where JFL42 steps in. JFL42 condenses the best of what Toronto has to offer, into a week and a half long festival. The festival then proceeds to juice Toronto’s comedy scene with soviet grade steroids, and adds big name headliners and shows. On top of that JFL42 will be introducing a new concept called COMEDYCON. It will offer daytime and nighttime shows that will give you an inside peek at the world of comedy, similar to ComicCon. The question is whether or not wearing a costume is a good idea. If you do, I dare you to do it at Todd Barry’s Podcast. I’ll be sure to catch that show, and the In Conversation’s with Jim Jefferies, Chris D’Elia and Craig Robinson respectively.
On to my picks for shows to check out. My bias as an open mic’er is to see the SiriusXM Top Comic Finale. The Competition will showcase some of the best of up and coming comics that Canada has to offer. The winner gets a sweet cash prize ($25,000) and TV spots at all Just For Laughs Festivals. The two runners up will get TV spots at next year’s Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, as well as a double threat show at the next JFL42 in 2017. This year’s show will be headlined by Tom Green and is hosted by Ben Miner of SiriusXM Canada Laughs. I don’t know about you, but I still quote Tom Green movies with my brother. This show has subsequently made it to the top my list.
The headliners of this festival are all top notch comedians. I will be seeing all of them, but the ones you really shouldn’t miss are Jim Jefferies because his storytelling ability is world-renowned, Anthony Jeselnik who is is the king of dark comedy, as well as Jim Gaffigan, the king of clean and I can’t wait to see both. Of the 42 acts, you don’t want to miss, Andy Kindler hosts the Alternative Show. And you can count on Big Jay Oakerson to always bring the belly laughs- he’s performing stand up and hosting his hit Seeso show What’s Your Fucking Deal— and Jim Norton is about to film his new special so expect him to preview that set. As for Canadian acts, definitely check out Mark Forward, Deanne Smith and K Trevor Wilson. It’s fair to say that K Trevor Wilson won the roast battle in the minds of all Canadians, and is the Canadian People’s Champion of the Roast Battle. (Canadians love Canadians!)
As it stands, JFL42 is the younger brother of the Montreal Festival. It is now in its fifth year and is reaching the age where it is now old enough to provide some serious competition for its older brother. It’s time for JFl42 to tell its older brother to shove it, and no …JFL42 wasn’t adopted, or bought at a store… nor is “Special”. Now is the time for JFL42 to show its older brother that he can potentially beat him at his own game and get the recognition JFL42 deserves. All metaphors aside it should be a great and fun festival.