JFL42’s must-see shows

The Toronto edition of Just For Laughs keeps getting bigger, with daytime ComedyCon panels, interviews and events adding to the fun. NOW writers helped pick some buzzy acts.

Scott Aukerman

Aukerman might not be as well known as some of the other comedians on this list, but he’s built a mini-empire around his weekly improvised Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast – a whole off-kilter universe of characters and in-jokes that if you know, you might be obsessed with. (If you don’t, you might be scratching your head a bit, but they try not to go too inside baseball for the live shows.) Fittingly, his ironic style of comedy-turned-inside-out will be all over JFL42. There’s a live CBB a live version of Threedom, his all-banter/no-characters podcast with Lauren Lapkus and Paul F. Tompkins and Aukerman and Lapkus will do a screening and Q&A of Between Two Ferns: The Movie, which Aukerman directed, the same day it drops on Netflix

Threedom, September 19, 9:30 pm, Queen Elizabeth Theatre Between Two Ferns: The Movie, September 20, 2 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox Comedy Bang! Bang!, September 20, 7 pm, Queen Elizabeth Theatre. 


Joel Kim Booster

Booster – a Los Angeles stand-up who’s written on Big Mouth, The Other Two and Billy On The Street, and who you’ll be seeing with a very specific haircut on the new NBC sitcom Sunnyside – has a mildly frantic, entirely charming stage presence and a wide range of material… starting with his childhood as a gay, Asian kid raised by a white family in the American Midwest. He’s also a terrific storyteller, as evidenced by his recent appearance on Andy Richter’s podcast The 3 Questions. Give that a listen, and then get yourself down to a show.

September 21, 9 pm, the Garrison September 22, 9 pm, Rivoli September 23, 9 pm, Comedy Bar September 23, 11 pm, the Royal. Get tickets here.


Tom Henry 

Local comic Henry has opened for several JFL42 performers in the past, but this year he’s finally getting his chance to shine as one of the 42. His deadpan act – just try to catch him smiling – is a series of quick jokes that usually make fun of everyday banalities. A master of misdirection and understatement, his routines go to some imaginative places. His Crave TV special comes out next year, so chances are he’ll be previewing some of the same material in his inimitable calm way and perfect sense of timing. 

September 21, 9 pm, Comedy Bar Main Space September 22, 11 pm, Comedy Bar Main Space September 23, 8 pm, Comedy Bar Cabaret. Get tickets here.

How Did This Get Made? 

Bad movie podcasts have become a bit of a genre on their own, but this one is the most consistently popular for good reason: the hosts’ pitch-perfect comedy interplay. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ve seen Jason Mantzoukas in countless bit parts, often playing some iteration of the lovable dirtbag. He’s a fantastic riffer, especially when he has head-scratching material to play with. Paul Scheer is a seasoned improviser, too, and his wife, June Diane Raphael (Grace & Frankie), is the perfect wildcard, sometimes butting in with questions as confusing as the movies. The terrible film they’ll be watching this time is Governor Gabbi, a 2017 TV movie about a college student who’s mistakenly elected for public office. 

September 28, 9:45 pm, Sony Centre 


Jen Kirkman

If you’re familiar with Kirkman from her Netflix specials I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine) or Just Keep Livin’?, you know her comedy: sharp, observational and mildly annoyed with a world that keeps thwarting her idealism. It’s why Chelsea Lately and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel were lucky to have her on their writing staffs – and why she’s not to be missed while she’s in town. The world’s only getting thwartier, after all.

September 19, 11 pm, the Royal September 20, 8:45 pm, the Royal September 21, 10:30 pm, the Royal. Get tickets here.

Nick Kroll

Nick Kroll

Kroll’s built a solid career on his exaggerated characters (as seen on Kroll Show and Oh, Hello!) and an unerring sense of the most uncomfortable place to take them. But he’s at his best when he’s just being himself – or at least the pubescent version of himself he voices on his Netflix animated series Big Mouth. Which version of Kroll will show up for the Middle-Aged Boy Tour? Probably all of them. He’s versatile like that.

September 20, 5 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and 9:45 pm, Sony Centre

My Gorgeous Son live podcast taping at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival (Andy Bush, left, Mark Little)

Mark Little and Andrew Bush

Little and Bush have spent a decade goofing around together, from their days in the Picnicface sketch troupe to this year’s cheerfully bizarre CBC sitcom Cavendish. And now they bring their capering to Comedy Bar for two shows: a program of sketches with their pal Dave Maclin, and a live recording of their profoundly weird podcast My Gorgeous Son (pictured, above). You’ll want to catch both of these.

September 22, 9 pm, Comedy Bar Main Space (Mark & Andy & Dave) September 28, 11 pm, Comedy Bar Main Space (My Gorgeous Son). Get tickets here.


Michelle Wolf

A popular JFL42 act in 2015 and 2017, Wolf’s star rose last year with her hosting gig at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner – which was so controversial it marked the end of comedians hosting the event at all. Then came her Netflix variety sketch series, The Break With Michelle Wolf, which was met with rave critical response – it was a nice change from the rest of the late-night fare – until Netflix cancelled it. One thing’s clear as she gets ready to perform two headlining sets at JFL42: she’s got nothing to lose, and that always makes for great comedy. 

September 24, 7 pm, Queen Elizabeth Theatre September 25, 7 pm, Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Get tickets here.

Find more JFL42 coverage here and here

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