Monday, November 8, 2010

Billy Connolly

It’s been a long, comedy –free 2 and a half months since Edinburgh (well, live comedy anyway, I’ve bought a pile of DVDs) and an even longer 4 months since I’ve bothered to update the blog. I’ve been meaning to write up some kind of Edinburgh synopsis, but I’ve been busy and either typing out the journal I kept or spending the time cutting it down would take ages. But, I’ve just had my latest fix of live comedy courtesy of Billy Connolly!

He walked out onto the stage looking older than I remember, his hair white and quite long, but still sporting his trademark goatee and black T-shirt. He was also wearing the most amazing black and white stripey trousers and red platform boots. I approve. About 10% of the audience gave him a standing ovation as he walked on (something I have never quite understood), but he told them to sit and got the show rolling. He was on stage for about 15 minutes before explaining that his style would be somewhat haphazard. The way he goes on tangents, but somehow always manages to link back up to the original story is impressive. He started talking about how Ottawa is cold (just wait till February), which got him onto a story about Oslo (also cold), which took us from cigar shops, to a handsome, one-eyed, man in his pub, to his stuffed Scottish wildcat, to fishing, to sneezing with your eyes open, to childhood stories about his bitch of a school teacher and his gluttonous knitting auntie. It all made sense at the time, I swear. Interspersed with the brilliant anecdotes were a few angry sidenotes about ghost hunting programs and the church as well as some brilliant jokes. He even managed not to lose his train of thought when, about 2 hours in, his microphone cut out and he was left, in quite a large room, with only mime to entertain us for a few minutes while a techie ran to find a replacement battery. The show went on so many tangents that at some points I wasn’t sure if he’d completely lost the plot, but inevitably, a few minutes later, he’d get back to the original story. He described it as ADD, and I sort of have to agree. But every sudden change of subject kept the audience equally laughing and on our toes. It was 2 and a half hours of brilliance and he left us with my favourite story of the night, the last few minutes of the show I was in fits of laughter. Which made him all the more deserving of the standing ovation which he received at the end of the show (from all of us this time). After the ovation he did one last short joke, then while we were applauding, slowly collected his notes from the stool and meandered off the stage. Pure class.

I’ve meant to ask UK types before, but it seems in Canada we give a lot of standing ovations. From my experiences in Edinburgh, this is not something that is done in the UK. Feel free to fill me in on the comments. And in conclusion, the only disappointment of the night is that the National Arts Centre in Ottawa is a split-level building with about 9 sides and seemingly infinite possible exits. I had a wander round to look for the stage door, but found no group of people milling about. So I only have one photo from the evening. I’ll leave you with it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Montreal, Day 4 - Down Under, Jim Jeffries, Jamie Kilstein

This was my final day in Montreal for the Just for Laughs festival. I went to 3 shows and was lucky enough to be joined by my 2 best friends for the whole day! We went wandering the streets during the day and then got ourselves ready for my 4th Tim Minchin show of the festival! Mike and Sacha had only seen Tim at the AMP’d music show the previous night. It was awesome improvised mayhem, but he was only on for 10 minutes. They were looking forward to more.

Double Threat Down Under – Jarred Christmas, Rove McManus, Tim Minchin

Mike, Sacha and I successfully chatted our way into front row seats, which made me very happy. What made me even happier was to see a massive baby grand piano sitting on the stage! Even at the show in Toronto, the piano was a boring upright. Jarred Christmas was the compere for the evening. I like Jarred a lot from his appearances on Jon Richardson’s show and various podcasts that I listen to. He made it easy to see why he got the best compere award from Chortle this year! He got the crowd going and did some material about the world cup (causing confusion since we call it soccer, and we have our own league of Canadian football). Jarred then introduced Rove McManus. Now, I only know Rove from seeing him interview people like Ross Noble on his chat show. I wasn’t hugely impressed with Rove’s standup, but it was solid. He was delightfully self deprecating and charismatic. I’m very happy he was opening. Jarred came back on and did a short set while the crew pushed the massive piano into the middle of the stage. Jarred tried to ‘help’ by putting the 3-legged stool in front of the piano and by talking to one of the stage hands. As retaliation, the stage hand in question brought out the piano bench out and put it on top of Jarred’s stool. Tim was introduced and did his usual bumbling around on stage before he usually slinks back to the piano and does a song without having said much to the audience. Because of the double-stool situation, this plan was slightly foiled and Tim just insulted Jarred while setting himself up. Once it all got going, he played a STUNNING version of ‘Rock and Roll Nerd’. The piano sounded gorgeous! Tim was on fine form! And I found myself closing my eyes to hear the gorgeous bass tones of the piano. The sound was so full, it sent shivers up my spine! Sacha had told me that she really wanted to see Tim play RaRN so she was delighted! Tim then spoke to a young looking girl in the audience and did a bit that I’d seen in Toronto about the meaning of words, and how Tim’s not a role model... he’s a fashion icon. I love the awkwardness of Tim’s standup style. It’s charming and adds an absurdity to the really grand songs! He then asked the young looking girl if her name was Sarah. It wasn’t. He then pointed at me and said ‘her name’s Sarah, she’s my stalker’. The crowd tittered awkwardly, but my friends were delighted. Tim then made the segue that this song was for his Sarah, not me and did ‘If I didn’t have you’. As I was sitting front row centre, about 2 feet from Tim, I got the weird halo effect of the stage lights reflecting in his hair. That was very cool, but I also got the unfortunate side effect of their incredible heat. After a gorgeous display of wiggles, Tim sat down and played ‘Inflatable You’. I was hoping for another song since it’s not my favourite, but it was appropriate as someone had brought a blowup doll which was sitting at her table. After the song Tim pointed it out and had her throw it up on stage. He examined what was under the t-shirt it was wearing. It looked pretty gross. He made a quip about it being the perfect woman, if you’re sad and alone, then threw it back at the girl. Tim wasn’t sure how much time he had left, and eventually decided he would play one more song. After having heard it so many times on lesser pianos, I was hoping for ‘You Grew on Me’ again. Instead he played ‘The Pope Song’. I think I’ve reached my saturation point for that song as I found my lips moving to the words without really thinking about it. The song has gone down really well in Canada and he left the stage to more rapturous applause. I’ve been surprised and delighted to see how many Canadians love and have heard of Tim at all the shows and I’m hoping this will mean that he does more shows here in the future. Jarred, Tim and Rove all came back out for a curtain call and Rove handed me his camera, asking me to take pictures of them. I got one decent one, and a pretty bad one. I was foiled by the double-flash of a camera for the first time of last night. After the show, Sacha, Mike and I waited around so that we could see Tim and I was hoping to see Jarred and Rove as well. I got a quick ‘Hello, good set’ to Jarred before he escaped. Rove and Tim stuck around for a lot longer. We took some photos with Rove and waited around for the hoard of people mobbing Tim to disperse a bit before approaching him.

It's Rove!

Eventually we did and I got a big hello and kiss. Sacha and Mike introduced themselves a bit and I made some slightly self-deprecating remarks along the lines of ‘See? I have real friends!’. Tim was lovely, as always and we took a few photos.

Group shot! Best friends with Minchin! Does it get any better?

He also signed the little Just for Laughs folder that was holding my tickets. He drew a little moustache on it and signed it. I got a big hug goodbye, which my friend Mike tried to take a photo of.

Foiled by the double-flash. Aren't we pretty?

Sadly, we were foiled by the double flash again and it looks like this. Sacha, Mike and I then wandered away, delighted. Sacha and I went to our next show, and Mike went back to the hostel for a little while.

Sacha and Mike sharing and atheist-front hug just after Tim's show. Aren't they cute?

Jim Jeffries – Alcoholocaust

Sacha and I found the venue for Jim Jeffries and got seats at the front.

Right before Jim Jeffries' show. This is one of the few ones from the evening where double-flash wasn't an issue.

Jim started off with some material about women, and relationships which I found a little bit too much. Women DO pay for their own drinks, and comedy tickets, and we’re not all psycho bitches. The jokes were alright, but it’s a bit of a tired theme in comedy. Then Jim moved onto some material about religion. This won me back very quickly but seemed to lose the rest of the crowd. So Jim moved swiftly along a very long 25 minute story. It was amazing! I don’t want to spoil too much, but it’s basically about his friend who is almost completely paralysed from muscular dystrophy and how he’d never been with a woman. The story was beautifully told and included lots of wonderful details! It had me laughing all the way through! At the end of this story, Jim realised that he had 5 minutes left in his hour and chatted with the audience for a little bit. To the point where he sorta pimped himself out to the audience and told us a (hopefully fake, but you never know) room number and the hotel he was at. He also told us that Jimmy Carr was in the audience and compared the sexual experiences of himself and Jimmy who’s in a very long-term relationship. I think he left the show with ‘any questions?’. It was a thoroughly enjoyable show! I’m glad I picked the variety of people that I did at the festival because after the previous acts I’d seen it was nice to see someone say ‘cunt’ so many times.

Jamie Kilstein – No God, No War, No Nickelback

Sacha and I made our way over to meet Mike at Jamie’s venue. I’ll tell you now, I didn’t get much sleep the night before, maybe 6 hours and the jager-bomb (jagermeister dropped into half a can of red bull) I’d had before Jim’s show had worn off a bit. Luckily, I was really excited to see Jamie again and that kept me going. I sat in the second row off to the side. I’ve met Jamie a few times now and I know that it can throw him off a little if someone he knows is sitting right at the front. He thanked us all for coming and mentioned that he’d forgotten to promote the show because he was too busy promoting Wednesday’s show (when HBO executives were coming) and Saturday’s show (when his Dad is driving up from New Jersey to see it). I’d seen a fair amount of the material before, but he had re-worded/modified some of it since the last time, and he kept going on little tangents because he started saying the extra little thoughts that were in his head. Most of them were related to the paranoia of his Dad coming on Saturday and some strange bitterness about the girls who broke his heart in high school. These things added a little new flair to the stories I’d heard before and, as someone who adores Jamie’s quirks, insecurities and neuroses, these made me laugh like a maniac. Jamie has a tendency to really fast-talking and take no pauses when he gets going on a rant or long story, so the crowd was holding back laughter a bit so they could hear the rest of his stories. He noticed this about 40 minutes in and said something like ‘Oh, if I leave a pause, you guys will laugh... you don’t all hate me’. It was true, I’m used to Jamie’s style so I was laughing throughout the show, but I think the rest of the audience wasn’t sure how to deal with it. Either way, I loved the show and was happy to see the Church of the Smiling Vagina and the Christian Side-Hug which both started their life on Citizen Radio (the radio show that Jamie and his wife Allison host). Jamie ended the show with a story about his Dad (which also originated on Citizen Radio) because he couldn’t do it when his Dad would be in the audience on Saturday. After the show I said hello to Jamie, who was happy to see me and happy that I brought my friends. And I finally introduced myself to Allison. I know I’ve spoken to Jamie while she’s been there a few times before, but I’ve never actually introduced myself. She was really lovely and I’m glad I said hello. Jamie asked if I’d be going back to the Hyatt hotel bar (where all the comedians hang out). I had convinced Sacha and Mike to join me there, so we walked over.

I was incredibly tired by this point, but I’m still so thrilled that I went back to the bar. As we walked in Justin Schlegel spotted me and came over for hugs. He and his friends also commented on my tits. So that was a bit awkward. Once my friends and I got a bottle of wine and found a place to sit, I had perked up a bit. It might’ve been the wine, or just the excitement at everyone, but I gained a little more energy. As we were chatting, I spotted Colin Mochrie across the room. Sacha, Mike and I all love ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ so we decided that we’d go over and say hello. He was so lovely! I said how much I liked ‘Whose Line’, especially the old UK episodes, asked what he was doing in town (doing a panel discussion), and how long he was here for (he left the next day to go to India). We chatted for what seemed like quite a long while and finally got a picture with the legend himself.

It's Colin FUCKING Mochrie!! What a legend!

I did a little more wandering around the bar, and saw Noel Fielding. I hadn’t met him yet, and didn’t get a chance to tell him how much I enjoyed his show, so I said hello. I felt a bit rude as he was chatting to some other people, but I went with the ‘now or never’ mentality. I asked why he hadn’t done his standup show in the UK, but in Canada. Apparantly he’s too busy in the UK to do the show, but has the time to come to Canada for 2 weeks to do it. Either way, I’m glad he came. He told us that he’d just recorded a Boosh album in New York and that he was busy working on a new TV show. I asked for more details, but he didn’t have any. I’ll keep an eye out for it. Then we took a photo.

Noel Fielding! Once again that night, I was foiled by the double-flash. So sorry it looks terrible. It’s all I got.

Sacha, Mike and I then moved on and sat back down to chat a little more. Jamie came by, and quickly said hi. He mentioned that Doug Stanhope was doing an ‘anti-Montreal festival’ somewhere nearby. I was interested in checking it out, but it was already really late and we were all really tired. At this point, Tom Wrigglesworth came by looking for his wife/fiancĂ©e, Lulu (sorry, I don’t know if they’ve gotten married yet). She had gone somewhere, so he sat down with us for a moment. We had a good little chat about the show, when Lulu joined us. The conversation continued the curly-headed madness between Mike and Tom, the legal privileges of diplomats (it made sense at the time) and rolling cigarettes (we don’t do it here). They were both very lovely people. I hope we can hang out in Edinburgh a little bit more. Tom and Lulu went out for a smoke and we hung out a little longer. Jamie came by again, we talked for a while longer, discussing the Christian Side-Hug a little bit more, before exchanging proper, atheist front-hugs and goodbyes. It was last-call at the bar, so we decided to wander the bar once more so I could say bye to the people who I met over my time at the festival. We went outside to the patio/smoking area where Tim Key had been hiding... seemingly all night. We had a little bit of a chat with him as well, I got to ask him the all important question. The answer is 6. He had 6 different notebooks in his new suit for Slutcracker. I also know that he’s going to be in Edinburgh from the 8th taking part in The Horne Section. I’m now more tempted to see it. Des Bishop also was out there and I got a hug. So did Sacha (they’d not met before... but Sacha’s a hottie and Des was feeling friendly). Tom and Lulu were standing next to Key, so I gave them each a hug on the way out. Tom is very tall. I like hugging tall people. On our way out, Justin Schlegel saw me again and gave me yet more hugs and yet more compliments about my tits. What a charmer. And that’s it. The end of the festival.

We walked home, getting poutine (and onion rings for me, I don’t like the idea of it) on the way home.

Sacha and Mike 'cheers'-ing their poutine. Nerds!


4am onion rings after 4 days of awesome comedy? That is a really tired but really happy Sarah!

What a great few days! Today was rough on very little sleep and getting back to reality. But it was all worth it. I had a great time, met lots of awesome people and laughed a lot! What more could I ask for? If I met you in Montreal, thanks so much for making my festival great! And if I didn’t, thanks so much for reading! If you like comedy stories, I’m going to Edinburgh in just over 3 weeks, so there will be lots more bloggage. Probably only when I get back though, I don’t want to have the responsibility of bringing a laptop with me. Thanks for reading everyone and sorry about the stupid long rambling nature of this.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Montreal, Day 3 - Tom Wrigglesworth, Tim Key, AMP'D

Another day, another 3 comedy shows! My friends Mike and Sacha (both recent Tim Minchin converts) came in from Kingston to join me for some shows.

Tom Wrigglesworth – An open return letter to Richard Branson

I should give my background here. I had a ticket to see this show in Edinburgh last year. I even queued up for the show. But I had really awful food poisoning that day and couldn’t face an hour in a hot room without the very real possibility of vomiting on someone. So I went home and slept off the food poisoning. I was kindly informed by my friends who did attend the show that it was amazing and that I had really missed out. So I was very happy to find out that it was made into a BBC Radio 2 programme. I listened to that, loved it, and still regretted having missed out in Edinburgh. Needless to say, I was delighted to hear that Tom would be performing the show in Montreal! The fact that I had already heard the story did not detract at all from the night. Tom’s storytelling style is wonderful! He paints a beautiful picture with words and adds wonderful little details for extra comic effect. Some things didn’t quite translate to a Canadian audience. After the show Tom asked me if we used the word ‘bell-end’ here... we do not. He also inquired about the concept of ‘health and safety’. I’m familiar with it because of the amount of UK-based comedy I watch, but it’s not called the same thing here. And I can’t figure out what we call it either. The concept translates, but the wording doesn’t. Despite the story being rather UK-centric, the audience really enjoyed the show! It was great to hear a proper storytelling show rather than the series of jokes that I’ve been seeing recently! Tom also won over my friend Sacha who had to run from the bus station to get to the show on time. I briefly said hello to Tom after his show, he was a lovely man who asked what else I was seeing and decided to tag along to the AMP’D music show later on.

Tim Key – Slutcracker

Tim was in the same venue as Tom just half an hour later, so I took back my front row centre seat and got comfortable. I hadn’t seen Tim perform live before and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I loved the show! The first thing I noticed was that the stage was littered with things; books, toy cars, a typewriter, a cake, a violin case and a massive fridge. If you haven’t seen Tim live, his character is a shambolic poet, he recites poems and shows little videos as well. Tim came out on stage in a track suit jacket and trainers, so his first order of business was to change into his suit and shoes on stage. He then poured himself a beer into a large glass, took a sip, then handed it to me. Front row centre made me the beer bitch. Throughout the show he would just look at me and hold out his hand... that was my queue. Key started the show by reciting a few poems which he was ‘reading’ from the various notebooks that were in every pocket of his crumpled suit. The poems ran the gamut from silly to strange to downright terrible but it was all brought to life by Tim’s delivery and commentary. Part way through the show, during one of the videos that he played, Tim disappeared into the audience. When the lights came back up he was standing on a table in the second row. He was going to try to get onto the fridge without touching the floor. He had brought up the idea of this game a little earlier, but it was still fairly silly. He commented that this is usually harder cos the tables near the front were meant to be filled with people (the audience was a little sparse for the show, and those who were there cowered at the back instead). He climbed over chairs onto the stage and made us decide between standing on a book, and standing on a cake. Clearly the cake was the popular choice. It always is. So he took off one shoe and the sock and stepped onto the cake, then with his other foot onto the typewriter. Then he looked over at me. He asked me to come up onto the stage and that was when I started to worry. I was expecting to get cake on me. Instead he simply asked me to hold him up while he put his sock and shoe back on his cakey foot. He must’ve trusted me cos I ended up supporting most of his body weight. Good thing I’m strong. I then brought him his beer. He asked if I’d just carry him to the fridge, but I’m simply not strong enough for that. He got a rather stronger man to do it instead. While Tim and the man were scrambling to get up the fridge Tim grabbed the empty wine bottle on the fridge and tossed it at me. Luckily I can catch and wasn’t too drunk. I wonder how often Tim gets dropped or the wine bottle gets broken. After this little interlude of madness Tim read some more poems from atop the fridge. I also forgot that his cup of beer wasn’t mine and took a swig. Oops... The show ended with a few more poems and some videos. I loved it! It was my favourite show of the festival so far! I will definitely be booking my ticket for Edinburgh (and maybe try not to get stuck as the beer bitch again). Tim came out after the show and I said hello. I apologised for potentially weirding him out in the bar the previous night and reminded him that I was the one who made the 24 hour show book for Mark. That seemed to ring a bell. He thanked me for being the beer bitch and for supporting the show... literally. After a brief chat I went back to the hostel to meet my friends before we went off to our late night show.

AMP’D

AMP’D was described as a musical comedy show and I thought it was going to be just Beardyman and Minchin. I was wrong. Beardyman was the compere of the show. He is an amazing freak of nature! An unbelievably talented beatboxer the entire audience were in awe of his skills. He did some beatboxing just with a microphone, then went behind a mixing table where things got really interesting. He took suggestions from the audience for 2 different kinds of music, then with the aid of layering from the mixing table, he created a fusion of the two. The man has amazing skill. So I was a little surprised when he introduced Axis of Awesome. I like them, so I was happy to hear them play. They did ‘Four Chords’ everybody’s favourite! Sadly, they wimped out on including ‘Canvas Bags’ like they usually do since Minchin was on later in the bill. After Axis of Awesome and another Beardyman interlude another act was introduced. I don’t know or care what their name was. It was a double act, who had quite good vocal skills but did a tedious song about the ‘shocker’ (two in the pink, one in the stink for those who aren’t familiar). It’s generic groups like them who give musical comedy a bad name. The woman who was next was even worse. She was a larger lady and came onstage in a ‘dress’ that was so short you wonder if it’s a shirt. She basically sang about being a bit of a slut and flashed her see-through black thong at the audience. Her act was showing her minge on stage. Classy. To make matters worse, for her second song she had 2, 10 year old girls come out and accompany her. It was the worst thing I’ve seen in a long time. Poor Beardyman had to get back the amazing party atmosphere that was happening before she came on stage. Luckily the man’s fucking brilliant, so he did, then introduced Bo Burnham. This was the 3rd time in the last week that I’ve seen Bo do that same 10-15 minutes and his stuff doesn’t hold up to that much repetition.. I seized the opportunity to go for a wee. As I popped out of the room I spotted (and probably freaked out) Jarred Christmas by saying ‘Hi Jarred’ quite excitedly, but continuing on my beeline for the bathroom doors. I rejoined my table for the rest of Bo’s set and some more of Beardyman’s brilliance. Last up was Tim Minchin! At this stage I will just say, to anyone reading to PLEASE GIVE MINCHIN A PROPER PIANO!!! He was on a keyboard again for this show. His first song was a half-improvised duet with Beardyman where Tim was self-deprecatingly saying how hard it was to follow really great acts. After that, Tim fully improvised a song about the construction going on in Montreal. I love improvised songs. It’s such an impressive skill. Then Tim played the ‘Pope song’ encouraging lots of audience participation. Last up was ‘You Grew on Me’ again. Either the house lights were up higher than I realised, or Tim had seen where I was sitting before he went on stage, or a freaky coincidence, but he directed most of the song right at me. To the point where the eye contact started to freak me out a little. What can I say about ‘You Grew on Me’ that hasn’t been said? I love it. The show ended to lots of rowdy applause and I went to try and sneak my friends backstage to find Minchin. That didn’t work. Then we somehow ended up in the upstairs bar where Tom Wrigglesworth, Tim Key, Jarred Christmas, Jim Jeffries/Jefferies and company were all hanging out. I seized the opportunity to briefly say hello to Tom and have a bit of a longer chat with Key. Sacha and Mike (my friends) were standing slightly awkwardly to the side so I introduced them to Tim Key. When Jarred Christmas came over I said hello to him again and explained that I knew him (and Key to a fair extent) off Jon Richardson’s show. I didn’t stay for too long as my friends wanted to go see if Minchin was outside. We waited outside the doors for a bit, but we never saw the big ginger hair so I assumed he had snuck out. Instead we went to a little pub nearby for another drink (a water for me... I was quite intoxicated by that stage) and then home to bed.

I’ve got 3 shows to see tonight, then I have to leave this beautiful city and the amazing comedy times tomorrow morning. Tonight I’ve got the ‘Down Under’ show with Jarred Christmas, Rove and Minchin followed by the solo shows of Jim Jeffries and Jamie Kilstein. It’s gonna be a good night!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Montreal, Day 2 - O'Comics & Harland Williams

I must preface this blog by saying that last night was one of the strangest, most surreal (although not to Adam Hills’ standards) and exciting nights of my life. There will be some squeeing (I’ll try to keep it at a minimum) and a LOT of name dropping (especially for mental comedy fans like myself). I get to see great comedy/comedians so rarely, that I will happily seize this opportunity to brag and rub it in your faces. You have been warned. But first, a few words about the shows I went to see!

O’Comics – PJ Gallagher, Andrew Maxwell, Des Bishop

I arrived at the venue, a bit sweaty, but very early so grabbed myself a front row seat. I was joined at my table by a couple, who were quite lovely and who bought me a beer ‘for saving their seats’. I was a little distracted by Maxwell who kept running up to look through the only semi-opaque backdrop before the show. That’s right Andrew, I saw you! The show was compered by PJ Gallagher, who immediately won me over. I’d not heard of him before, but I will be keeping an eye out for him from now on. I found him charming and funny, with a lovely impish quality that only made me like him more. First up was Andrew Maxwell, the man I was there to see. I’ve seen Maxwell’s solo shows in Edinburgh 2008, 2009 and will see him again this year. I like the man and what he does. And he did it well. I thoroughly enjoyed his set, he had some really beautifully crafted new routines which were interspersed with less structured chat. An excellent set from Mr. Maxwell! PJ came back on for a short set, which included asking where the single people were. I was one of few who cheered, so I got asked the charming question ‘Are you happily single or bitter?’ I didn’t have a recent breakup story (single for 4 years! Hurray!) so I went with happily single... It’s mostly true... Next up was Des Bishop! I was a bit surprised when Des came out with a noticeable New York accent (it was billed as an Irish show after all), but he addressed this, and the fact that he’d lived in Ireland for a long time right off the bat. He talked about how he came to live in Ireland, and quite a lot of more personal material, testicular cancer among other things. I forget how this came about, but Des picked up on the fact (probably from PJ’s bit) that I was single and at the show on my own. So I was the go-to girl every time he touched his crotch, or talked about sex. I was assured that he wouldn’t push my head if I gave him a blowjob, and that he’d only had erectile difficulties 4 times in his 34 years... so ‘when we have sex, it’ll work’. It was slightly awkward (made more so by the fact that I really needed a wee for the last 10 minutes of his set, but couldn’t get up as I was sat at the front, and definitely wasn’t offended), but very funny. I don’t understand why people are scared of sitting in the front. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I’ll see if I can find a spot in my Edinburgh schedule for Des’ show... although at this stage of planning it’ll be fucking difficult.

Harland Williams

Harland Williams’ show was in the same venue as the O’comics show, so I hung out in the lobby in between, I got another front row seat, this time at a table with 2 lovely girls, Natasha and Lori. They were great fun! We spent the night from 8am-3am together, so I’m happy I sat with them! Harland’s warm-up act was called Justin Schlegel. He did a short set and was excellent! I might be biased, but I think he got bigger laughs than Harland did! The premise for Harland’s show was that the first half was scripted, and the second half would be improvised. It might be my love for spontaneity in comedy or it might be that my preference in comedy has shifted a bit since I first discovered Harland, but I enjoyed the improvised part of his show much more than the scripted bit. I wasn’t sure how the improvised bit was going work, but he took suggestions from the audience and improvised a bit of material around that theme. Things that came up were masturbation and Tim Horton’s (Canadian doughnut chain) among many others. Once again, sitting in the front row got me attention. I was given a line to say after Harland improvised for a while. My line was ‘he had it coming’. Maybe I was too worried about remembering the line or maybe I was missing something else, but to me anyways, my line didn’t make sense after what he had said... The audience seemed a bit puzzled as well. Ah well, improvisation didn’t always work. But I did get the microphone thrust at me a few minutes later as well for another ‘he had it coming’. Thank goodness for short term memory! I remembered and didn’t get humiliated. Although, hearing my voice in the microphone was pretty bad. Anyways, the show was a good night out, and seeing one of the first comedians I ever liked 5 or 10 years later really put my shifting comedy tastes and expanded comedy knowledge into perspective. I went out with Lori and Natasha to meet Harland afterward, as Lori is a massive fan (to the point where Harland knows her name). He was lovely, thanked me for ‘he had it coming’ and gave me this very memorable photo.


The girls then pointed out that Tom Green was standing outside. I should mention that I never got into Tom Green, but (at least in Canada) he is very famous. He came inside to talk to Harland, and gave me a flyer for his show out of his jacket pocket. That was too weird. I like getting flyered for shows by the person in the show... but it just struck me that Tom Green is way to famous for that! I’m keeping the flyer though, it was a slightly odd start to what ended up being a very strange night. While the girls were having photos and chatting with Harland and Tom, I spotted Justin, the warm up comic outside and wanted to congratulate him on his set. It must be odd warming up for a solo show, and I thought I should acknowledge that he was great! There was another girl talking to him when I came out, but he was lovely, thanked me for being the strange comedy nerd that I am, gave me his business card and invited us (well probably just the cute blonde he was talking to... but I got in on the offer anyway) to the bar in the hotel across the street. He said it would be where all the comedians were. Fuck me he was right! As we were chatting, Mike MacDonald (a veteran Canadian comic or someone who looks incredibly like him) sped down the hill by us on a scooter (not a powered one, essentially a skateboard with 2 wheels and a handlebar). Add another tick to the ‘weird’ column.

Justin, Harland and Tom all made their way out and Lori, Natasha and I had to make a decision. To go to the bar or not? Would it be weird? Would we be allowed? Eventually, Natasha made the executive decision (thanks so much!) and we went. We grabbed ourselves a table and ordered food (for me, it was late and I hadn’t eaten since 4:30pm) and drinks (for all). For your information I am pretty much a rolodex of comedians (do those still exist?) and I have excellent facial recognition. I spent the entire night catching glimpses of awesome comedians out of the corner of my eye and over the shoulders of whoever I happened to be talking to. I even looked over the shoulder of Tim Minchin while we were talking. I am a cunt. So if I did that to you last night, don’t take it personally, and I’m sorry. This bar was my ‘kid in a candy store’ moment. The empty table we found was next to Glenn Wool and Pete Johansson for a start. Harland, Tom and Justin were on the other side of the bar as well. As the night went on, I saw a ton of people pour in (these are the ones I didn’t talk to); Tom Wrigglesworth, Bo Burnham, JJ Whitehead and Jack Whitehall to name a handful.

Just as the girls and I were finishing our food, Des Bishop walked by. I gave him a smile and a wave and he came right over. He had remembered me from the show and apologised for picking on me (sorta) for the evening. We made introductions and he eventually pulled up a chair. We chatted a bit about the show, how the crowd was very hot and cold (they were, it weirded me out), how he didn’t like the high angle of the stage, how he recognised me from my tan lines (you’d think the purple hair, but no). He then told me that after Des had gotten me involved in his set, Andrew Maxwell had mentioned that he recognised me from twitter and that either he, or both of them, read my blog backstage after the show. Add that to the list of weirdness. I’m aware that this blog is on the internet, and that it’s public, but I always thought that the only people reading are the 30 or so people who subscribe, all fellow comedy nerds who I am aware of through twitter, or forums. To find out that the subjects of my blog, first Minchin and now Bishop are reading it, freaks me the fuck out. I’m just a fan. I have no power, no pull in the comedy world and no public presence. Thanks to all of you for reading, but at least comment when you do so that I know you’re there...

Sorry. I got a little distracted. Yes, so Des sat at our table for a while. Maxwell came over for a short while as well. I mentioned that I was a bit creeped out, and retaliated by commenting on the nice outfit he was wearing at Fullmooners on the weekend. He didn’t seem phased, but Des seemed impressed by my comedy connections. We played the ‘who are your favourite comedians’ game and had some lovely chat. I then saw Jamie Kilstein standing nearby so I went over to say hello. Jamie and I have met on multiple occasions now, so it wasn’t as weird as approaching a stranger. It took him a split second to recognised me (I think the hair might’ve done it) but I got a lovely big hug, and asked to see his wedding tattoo of a penguin. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but very cute. Then a photographer friend (who is responsible for some of the lovely artwork on Jamie’s websites) came over. Shortly after that, Jamie got pulled away from the conversation. I asked the photographer for his name (which of course, I don’t remember) had a little chat, then went back to my table where Des and the girls were still sitting.

Not long after that, Tim Key came into the bar and came over to chat to Des. Introductions were made, I mentioned that I’d be seeing his show tonight and in Edinburgh. He got taken aback by the mention of Edinburgh, but I explained that I was going and mentioned that Mark Watson told me it was worth seeing twice. He said ‘oh, I was his best man, that’s just loyalty’. He’s far too humble. Tim was lovely, if a little frightened by me. Next we chatted about what to do/see in Montreal and Natasha (who’s from here) got lots of questions from the rest of us. I got up to go for a wee and on the way back walked by Minchin.

Minchin and I chatted for quite a while. The man is lovely! We talked about the Toronto gigs, he asked where I live, and how far that is from both cities (assessing my general creep factor), we talked about Linzy (again), Kirsty, Yvette and Shell. We talked about Mark Watson, and their kids (Mark and Tim’s kids with their respective wives... not with each other). Tim showed me a very cute picture of Caspar and Violet on his phone. They are adorable with big blue eyes and lovely blonde hair! I forget what else we spoke about, but he’s a charming man. And I got the title of ‘stalker’ last night. I thought that was reserved for Yvette... but apparantly not. To be fair, I am the most stalkerish of his Canadian fans.

Soon after I got back to our table, Justin came and sat down. We shared some overly personal stories and talked about the comedy industry. When I said that I had come to Montreal for the festival, on my own he seemed genuinely touched. He said on multiple occasions that ‘we need people like you’. I don’t know why I find it strange when comedians genuinely appreciate dedicated comedy followers, but it’s something I’ve come across fairly often, and I’m glad that I’m appreciated. Once we realised that it was 3am, we decided to call it a night (last call at the bar helped). On our way out Minchin walked by. I introduced him to Natasha, Lori and Justin and he called me a stalker. They seemed quite confused, since none of them knew who Tim was, and in the elevator on the way out said ‘Who was that guy with the weird hair?’. Me: ‘Oh him? He’s Tim Minchin, my favourite comedian.’ So yeah, that about sums it up really. Sorry for rambling, but last night was very exciting. I’ll leave you with this. My walk home at 3:30am was terrifying. But totally worth it! Tonight and tomorrow are gonna have to be fucking incredible to top this!