The “Just For Laughs” comedy festival in Montreal is once again packed with the biggest stars in comedy for its 2018 run. Comedian Brad Williams will be starring in several shows as well as debuting his new hour during the festival. We caught up with Brad in anticipation of his trip to Canada, getting his thoughts on the JFL festival, his podcast (About Last Night) and upcoming Netflix special.
The Interrobang: With all the excitement in anticipation of the festival, is there any temptation to get there early and just play in Montreal for a while?
Brad Williams: I’ll be getting to Montreal next week, but there have been times when I have gotten to go early before the festival. Is there a more fantastic City? It’s really great. I got married in the last year, and I don’t take my wife to many gigs, I am taking her to the JFL Comedy Festival. She’ll definitely come to Montreal so we can enjoy the city together.
The Interrobang: Of all the shows you’re scheduled on, is your solo show the one you look forward to most? Your past specials “Fun Size” and “Daddy Issues” were great hits back to back, are there any plans about making this your new special?
Brad Williams: Yeah, it’s going to be a new hour. If fans saw me on the “Neil Patrick Harris: Circus Awesomeus” special or “The Nasty Show” special that aired, they will be glad to hear that this will be all different material. It’s a brand new hour and part of it we already taped for Netflix as half hour special. This is me trying to get new material going; once the Netflix half-hour airs I got to throw it all out. So the Netflix half-hour is done and it’s probably coming out in the beginning of fall. Its part of the Netflix series “The Degenerates”, a group of half hours like “The Nasty Show” — Big Jay Oakerson did one, Joey Diaz shot one, Christina P. — it was a fantastic night. Everyone crushed it; I’m looking forward to people seeing that. The comedy is great and Netflix has totally revolutionized the game. But, you still can’t beat seeing it live, you got to see it live. The energy in the room…is something that just can’t be replicated while sitting on your couch. There are people that are like…I can just watch it on Netflix… well I guess you can, and you should, but you got to see comedy live too.
The Interrobang: What’s the pressure like presenting new material at a festival like JFL?
Brad Williams: I’m going to be taking a lot of chances. Given that it’s the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival, the fans there are always so intelligent. They are so into comedy… they are tuned in. You take chances, and they trust you. Not a lot of people talk about trust in comedy. It’s great when an audience trusts that you are going to make the joke. They are willing to follow you into weird places because they trust that you are going to throw them a lifeline and that they can laugh at the end of it. People ask me all over the country where my favorite comedy clubs are… I say It’s not a club… it’s the Just For Laughs Festival. No matter where you live, you don’t have to live in Montreal… you don’t have to live in Canada. If you live anywhere and you’re a fan of stand-up comedy then you should go. Not just for me or my shows, or my podcast taping, but look at all the names that are going to be there… My God… this is everybody in comedy. It’s insane.
The Interrobang: Are you looking forward to returning to “The Nasty Show” again this year, everyone loved your interaction with Bobby Kelly last time.
Brad Williams: Jesus, Bob Kelly… oh my God how great is he? Just to be on that show with him, I might have done The Nasty Show but Bob Kelly is the one that stands out. It’s amazing to me that people are still discovering him… that blows my mind. I always have fun with him, I always enjoy going on our annual trip to get smoked meat. Bobby is one of the purest voices in comedy, he pulls no punches. He and I are definitely going to play a game of “can you top this” at the show this year.
Another great thing about the nasty shows is that they always have a wonderful combination of comedy veterans that you know, and they also have people you should know. So, if you see a name that’s on the Nasty Show lineup you don’t recognize… Go. They are there for a reason, because in five years you’re not going to be able to get a ticket to see them.
The Interrobang: What’s the feel for doing events like The Nasty Show at JFL in Canada following the Mike Ward Human Rights Tribunal lawsuit based on jokes he made? Does it make you guys feel like you have to rein anything back? Is there any fear about performing?
Brad Williams: No. It’s the exact opposite. When that happened, the whole comedy community came together. We were like… I know we’re not going to allow this, because once you start limiting what people can say because one person got offended, then that’s the death of Comedy right there. The comedians fought back, we all joked about it that year. That’s what happens with our community it’s a small community it’s a very tight-knit community. We all want to provide good edgy comedy; we want to talk about whatever we want to talk about. We thrive on free speech, so when someone threatens that, we’re not going to allow that to happen.
The Interrobang: Your podcast with Adam Ray “About Last Night” is always doing great on the charts, and you have some amazing guests. Do you ever find it difficult with some of these big names that aren’t in comedy to get them to relax and go with the flow?
Brad Williams: You know Adam and I sort of have a way of letting people get comfortable. Our favorite thing is when someone comes in and is like “oh my God I never told this story before”, and that’s what we’re able to do, hang out and get them to tell the story. We let them know that it’s okay, that they can pretty much talk about anything. Nowadays, everything is so quick and it’s about short attention spans; it’s nice to just sit down and have a conversation with someone. When you do that, that’s when you get the really good stuff. And we’re excited to do the Podcast live at JFL. The live shows are great because Adam and I are trying to make each other laugh, and that’s usually making the audience laugh. We improvise a lot… last time we did a live podcast we wound up improvising a song called Everyone has HPV. That gives you the idea of the kind of stuff that we get into. Given the kind of guests that are going to be at the festival already, we’re going to have a great time.
I love getting to know our guests on the podcast. It’s a neat experience, you get to meet people and once you had an hour long conversation… you have a connection with them. You shared something with someone once you talk for an hour. People ask “how do you get these big guests”– and honest to God we just ask. It seems weird to say but you just ask, and if you don’t ask you don’t get. Amazing guests that we’ve had… they’re never going to bang down your door to try to get on your show, so you just got to ask them. When you do ask, they’re more than likely to say yes; and thankfully Adam and I aren’t creeps.
The Interrobang: Sometimes there seems to be a division or rivalry with LA-based comedians Versus NYC comedians, do you have any feelings about different styles of Comedy from both areas?
Brad Williams: In my personal opinion what’s funny is funny. There are those people that say “Well, I’m only funny in the Midwest”, my response to that is… well then I guess you’re just not very funny are you? You can throw me in North Dakota, you can throw me in New York and throw me in LA… it doesn’t matter. For example, I’m going on an Australian tour this December… Why the hell would I, Brad Williams, some idiot from Orange County— be going to Australia— because they appreciate funny too. Good comedy just translates… the references may change, but it is universal and as long as you have a strong point of view, a good audience is going to be attracted to you.
The Interrobang: Is there anything else you would like the JFL audiences to know before the festival begins?
Brad Williams: The last thing I want to add is that when you see a dwarf… Whether he’s live on stage or on a podcast you have a story. When you see a midget telling jokes, that’s not a night out… that’s a NyQuil dream.
Brad Williams will be performing his solo show at JFL, as well as a live taping of his podcast “About Last Night” with co-host Adam Ray. Brad will also be featured during the entire run of the popular “The Nasty Show”, and on Jeff Dunham’s Comedy Gala event.
For dates, tix and show times please visit hahaha.com.