It’s that time of year again when Jeffrey Gurian Jumps north to cover the last four days of the Montreal Just for Laughs comedy festival. Jeffrey joined our site as a regular columnist one year ago with his coverage of Montreal 2014, so Happy Anniversary Jeffrey! He’ll be sending in news, updates and stories from Canada all weekend, so check in every day to see what’s happening. Jeffrey Gurian is a writer and comedian in New York who loves to Jump Around. Follow his regular column, right here every Monday morning, to find out what’s happening in comedy, and who Jeffrey Gurian ran into this week.
Yesterday was my first day back in Montreal for the 2015 Just For Laughs Festival and there’s already so much to talk about I don’t know where to start.
Last night after dinner at a Chinese restaurant where all the Chinese people spoke to me in French, I went to the Netflix Party, and it was amazing. The invite said Schwartz’s smoked meat and cocktails at the Hyatt starting at 11 so I went there to see what was happening. I ran into Tone Bell who I had just met in Atlanta. He’s one of Variety’s Top 10 Comics to watch even though he’s already had two television shows (Whitney and Bad Judge with Kate Walsh) and his third sitcom on NBC, Truth Be Told airs this fall. There’s two husbands and two wives, best friends and neighbors and everyone is different races. Tone’s character is married to a black woman, the white guy is married to an asian woman. The white guy is Mark Paul Gosselaar from Saved by the Bell. Tone Bell is with Innovative. His new show premieres in October right after after Undateable on NBC. He also opens for Brent Morin and he’s on Brent’s show here, and they’re drinking buddies in LA. I ran into John Fatigate at the party. He’s the producer from Stand Up Labs.
And then I saw Undateable’s Rick Glassman with Chris D’Elia, and they suggested we run over to check out Roast Battle, so we left the party and we went over to Jeffrey Ross’s Roastmasters Invitational. And that was crazy. The show was hosted by Brian Moses who created the show Roast Battle in LA with Rel Battle. I was just a judge at a different version of the show that Rel Battle brought to New York City. So last night Wanda Sykes was one of the judges and she was tough. She thought the first part of it was horrible and told the first few comedians that they had no idea what they were doing.
But the big surprise was when Dave Chappelle came in and sat next to Jeff Ross. He was wearing a beautiful suit and said his show ended early because a fight broke out in the audience. He said it was a Canadian fight, one guy took off his shirt and things went crazy after that so the show ended early. I got a big hug from Dave Chappelle which I was happy about. I hadn’t seen him since he took photos with me and Richie Tienken at the Comic Strip to promote by book Make ‘Em Laugh.
In the audience I saw, Moshe Kasher, Alonzo Bodden, and then I ran into Colin Jost who said he will give me a blurb on my new book. Owen Burke was at the bar, he’s producing the third season of Drunk History on Comedy Central, and the first season of The Chris Gethard Show on Fusion. The third Season of Drunk History premieres in October. Owen and I were on the set of Kroll Show together taping sketches the same day. He was in Sex In The City for Dudes while I was taping Too Much Tuna!
Dara Gottfried who told me Gilbert Gottfried is flying up and he’s being honored as part of the pro conference with a funeral! People always wonder who would come to their funeral so this is a funeral for Gilbert Gottfried which takes place at the Hyatt. The Wake is a live format presentation where a celebrated comedian gets to attend their own funeral.
Earlier in the evening I went to the Jane Lynch Gala where of course, Jane Lynch was the host. She sang some songs, said fuck a few times. She sang a song about rainbows, one called Slapping the Cakes which she said was an old time expression she made up and then she actually sang ‘My Anaconda Don’t’ a Nicki Minhaj song. Dan Naturman opened the show and Tom Papa closed with a great set. Tom wore a suit and tie. He was the only comic to dress up. He’s of course hosting a new big tv game show, Boom! these days. On the way out, I ran into Barry Katz the creator of LCS who told me that someone just emailed him about an interview that I did with him.
So the day ended really great but it started really strange. I flew up on Air Canada, and the people were very weird. Nobody smiled, everyone seemed like they were in a bad mood, and I didn’t get ice in my drink, and then when I asked for some, they looked at me like I was crazy. And then checking into my hotel, they give me the keys to my room, I go upstairs, I open the door, and there’s someone in there!! Their luggage is all over, and clothing is there. They put me in a room with a stranger! So I was really ticked! I had to go downstairs and change my room.
During Just for Laughs, you run into comedians everywhere. While I was checking into my hotel, I saw Von Decarlo who is here shooting the documentary for Patrice with her producer Mark Farrell. She was sitting with Cris Italia and Dave Kimowitz from The Stand and Von just had her hair cut. She said it was the shortest its ever been, and she wasn’t sure if she liked it or not but she looked great. She was here with Jason Steinberg who has been her manager, and he managed Patrice O’Neal for eight years. And he’s managing Donnell Rawlings who is opening for Dave Chappelle in eight of his ten shows that he’s doing up here. He would have opened for all ten shows but he had a previous commitment to perform at Magoobys in Baltimore. And he honored his commitment so he had to drop out of two shows.
Then Mike Berkowitz the super agent from APA came into the lobby, and Robbie Praw who is the VP of programming of Just For Laughs, arranged for about 20 girls to sing to him as he came out of the elevator with Marcus Levy, another agent from APA and they all sang Happy Festival the way you would sing Happy Birthday. I saw Brian Baldinger and Andrew Fox from Carolines too.
And then when I went back up to try checking in to my room again, I saw into Nate Bargatze and Luis J Gomez walking in together. Nate is in the Variety’s Top Ten Comics to Watch. Its his third time at the festival. He said its the best time cause he gets to spend it with this buddy Luis who is part of the New Faces Show at the festival. And Luis said he’s super excited to be a part of the festival but its a little disappointing that Dave Smith got to do it two years before. Then Nate chimed in saying Dave Smith doesn’t even do comedy anymore. You can tell they’re all good friends and thats why they said those things, in fact Nate Bargatze is the godfather of his son. And I also saw Andy Kindler who is doing the state of the industry address.
I got an email yesterday from a publicist asking me if I would be willing to meet with the two guys from the Instagram account Fuck Jerry and their names were Elliot Tebele and Elie Ballas. They’re doing a closing night show up here, and then a party on Saturday night from midnight till 3 so I said I would be open to meeting them, but I didn’t know how I was going to find them because they didn’t give me any contact information. There’s like a million people here! As I got off the plane and onto a shuttle bus, there’s a guy sitting behind me talking on the phone, and who does it turn out to be? Ellie Ballas! That can’t even happen. So we get off the shuttle and he’s joined by Elliot Tebele his partner, and they tells me the story of Fuck Jerry. They have over 5 million followers. They’ve been childhood friends. The name came to him when he was watching Seinfeld, the tv show, but he says he loves Jerry Seinfeld. He couldn’t really explain what the name Fuck Jerry was about but they’ve been doing it for about four year and they’re doing great.
And that was it for Wednesday but there’s a lot more happening today Thursday July 23rd and I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a full report.
Jeffrey Gurian is a comedian, writer and all around bon vivant in New York City. Subscribe to his YouTube channel. Below, photos, Jeffrey with Colin Jost, Jeffrey with Owen Burke and the Fuck Jerry Guys.