I plan just for laughs months in advance detailed list down to the hour with multiple show options it takes a lot of work and most of the time I don’t end up sticking to it at all.
I was supposed to go to different shows I ended up going to better ones. The one night only shows at Just for Laughs are some of the most sought-after shows of the festival. This is where comedian brings their tour to JFL for one single performance. They are not usually open to pass holders and this year they were Anjelah Johnson’s More Of Me Tour and Nick Kroll’s Middle-aged Boy tour. There was such a slim chance I would get a ticket to these shows I almost forgot I had applied to go I was beyond excited when I received my manila envelope from the Press office with the tickets. Anjelah Johnson Is a comic I have wanted to see for a very long time. She’s a pint-sized Latina dynamo and was performing at the iconic club soda. Club soda is a near-perfect venue for comedy. Just for Laughs All Access filmed here, Comedians of the World filmed here, the ceilings are high the sight lines are good big enough to be grand and small enough to be intimate.
ANGELA JOHNSON: MORE OF ME
The vibe inside was different from other shows– the audience was not over-tired industry folk scanning the room to see who was and was not there. It was fans legitimately excited to see someone they loved live. Angela’s fans adore her and the feeling is mutual Johnson came out and exuded likability. The More Of Me Tour has been playing significantly larger venues but easily adapted to Club Soda. The energy was laid-back and sincere Johnson is a trained dancer and a former Oakland Raiders cheerleader this is evident in how she works the stage so effortlessly she doesn’t just do stand-up she performs it. Johnson performed an hour of entirely new material that built in emotion and spanned everything from her personal paranormal theories to her best friend’s blind dog. Her Latin American Heritage is ever-present in her comedy and her impression of her family or people she knows serves as a sort of Greek chorus to her punchlines. Best utilized in her story about the difference between how her and her assistant dealt with a bad rental car.
The show built to a place of emotional vulnerability with a bit about how what Johnson dubbed the “what ifs” and how they always seem to nag at her. This bit was about true deep rooted anxiety and Johnson made it feel light and relatable. Reliability is a large factor in Johnson’s appeal. Johnson did a stint on Mad TV where they were best known for character called Bon Qui Qui towards the end of the show Johnson seamlessly switched gears explaining how Bon Qui Qui had gotten a real record deal and she wasn’t even a real person she proceeded to perform two songs as Bon Qui Qui a very good transformation that required not so much as a jacket change.
Johnson closed out the show with a still moment before explaining to the crowd how grateful they were that we chose to spend our time and money to see her. Most musicians have a song they play last– the one everyone came to hear– the one that means something to see live. If your Jack white it’s Seven Nation Army. If your Anjelah Johnson it’s the nail salon joke. Johnson hit Center Stage and after a beat she earnestly said “This is the bit that made me famous it’s my pleasure to do it for you now.” With precision and energy she flawlessly performed a joke she had done a million times all over the world knowing how important it was for this audience to hear it for the first time.
NICK KROLL : Middle Aged Boy Tour.
All the shows at Just for Laughs are perfectly timed out for you to be able to walk to the next venue. Leaving Club Soda after that amazing show I turned on to Saint Catherine Street and headed to Olympia- the shabby chic concert venue where Nick Kroll’s show was being held. Nick Kroll put on a thoroughly enjoyable show — it was stand-up that reflected not only his diverse career but incorporated trends in subject matter and emerging styles of comedy. Super irony-based material paired with heartfelt stories of emotional growth. It was indicative of how much reflecting on his life and child hood goes into Big Mouth.
Kroll’s career has spanned so many different projects and the show reflects and unites fans from all of them. Nick Kroll is the only person who performs a Canadian accent on television correctly. It was featured in a Degrassi parody sketch entitled Wheels Ontario from the Kroll Show and I’m happy to report the flawless Canadian accent made an appearance to talk about Canada’s legalization laws. Naturally it killed. There’s a charm to Nick Kroll you can only see live. He is so many different characters with so many voices and faces it was a rare and beautiful night to see the person behind such a big mouth.
There was more to my second night but that will have to wait I am on my way to the Just for Laughs awards show you’ll have to read tomorrow’s coverage to see if I make it.