Sebastian Maniscalco has been a runaway comedy train, which is why this year the Just For Laughs award committee unanimously chose him as their Stand Up Comedian of the Year. Also on the list to receive top awards at this year’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival are Maria Bamford who is the Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, Silicon Valley creators Mike Judge and Alec Berg named Comedy Writers of the Year, and Aziz Ansari, who takes the all around title of Comedy Person of the Year.
Every year the prestigious Just for Laughs festival holds a red carpet star studded awards ceremony– it’s the closest thing comedy has to its own Oscars– naming a Stand Up Comedian of the Year, a Comedy Person of the Year, a Breakout Comedy Star and Comedy Writers of the Year. J.B. Smoove is hosting this year’s awards event. This year’s winners will receive their awards at the Just For Laughs Awards Show presented by Air Canada on Friday, July 29 at 4:30 pm at the Grand Salon Opera, Hyatt Regency Montreal, part of JFL ComedyPRO.
At last year’s Just for Laughs festival, Maniscalco performed for eleven sold out audiences, and all year fans across North America have been lining up to see his shows. This year, Sebastian will be rolling out another Showtime special– his third, and he’s added film to his resume, with a role in The House, which stars Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, a voice over role in an animated feature, and an indie drama film. He is a comedy house afire and a perfect choice.
Maria Bamford has been aptly named Breakout Comedy Star of the Year, and although Bamford has been well known and respected for years, 2016 has indeed been a game changer, largely due to the release of her outstanding Netflix series, Lady Dynamite. Before Lady Dynamite, we all loved her as the creator and star of Maria Bamford: the special special special and of the cult hit and wildly original web series, The Maria Bamford Show. Bamford has two half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials, starred in the Comedy Central series The Comedians of Comedy and Netflix’s Comedians of Comedy: The Movie and has a busy side career as a voice over artist on animated series, including BoJack Horseman, Adventure Time, Legend of Korra, Puss in Boots and PBS’s Emmy-winning series, Word Girl.
Silicon Valley has taken television by storm and is undoubtably the funniest series on television this year, which is why its head writers are this year’s winners of the Just for Laughs Comedy Writer of the Year award. The men who write, direct and executive produce the Emmy award winning series– comedy veterans Mike Judge and Alec Berg— each have a slew of beloved projects to their credit prior to bringing Silicon Valley to HBO. Judge of course created Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill, Office Space, and Idiocracy, and Berg is best known for two comedy monoliths- Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Silicon Valley has received much acclaim as “the best and funniest full-on comedy in years” (Hollywood Reporter). The duo start production soon on the fourth season of Silicon Valley.
Comedy Person of the Year usually goes to a comedian who had a stand out year, but not necessarily just on the stand up stage. Aziz Ansari accomplished this thanks to his critically beloved series Master of None. Aziz stars in the semi-autobiographical series, as well as writes and directs along with Parks and Rec writer Alan Yang. The New York Times called Master of None “the year’s best comedy straight out of the gate.” But Ansari is being recognized for more than just his series- last year, Aziz became one of the only headlining comedians ever to sell out Madison Square Garden in New York City. His two sold-out performances at the legendary arena were filmed for his fourth comedy special, Aziz Ansari: Live at Madison Square Garden. His first book, Modern Romance, debuted at #2 on The New York Times “bestseller” list.
At the 2015 Just for Laughs Festival, Patton Oswalt took home the prestigious Stand Up Comedian of the Year Award, with Kevin Hart landing the Comedy Person of the Year, Ellie Kemper as the Break Out Artist, and Veep’s Armando Iannucci winning the Comedy Writer of the Year Award. No word on a Lifetime Achievement Award this year (Mike Myers was the LA winner in 2015) or a recipient of the brand new Generation Award which may have been newly created in 2015 just for Dave Chappelle, which is just fine. Maybe next generation….
The Just For Laughs Festival runs from July 13 to August 1, 2016 in Montreal, Canada. Just For Laughs ComedyPRO runs from July 27-30, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, Canada.