JFL42 is almost over, with the big Louis CK shows capping off a week of comedy. I'll review his show Friday, but here's a wrap-up of some of the best (and one of the worst) things I've seen thus far. You can still get tickets at jfl42.com.
Best set: Patton Oswalt and Todd Barry (tie)
Oswalt skewers pop culture like no one else - there were spot-on references to Game Of Thrones and Breaking Bad in the first SECONDS of his set. But it's his ability to describe absurd situations that makes his act so brilliant: pretending to be Arnold Schwarzenegger wondering how he achieved so much; feeling suicidal while choosing Lean Cuisines in a grocery store; comparing a talk with a prostitute to a Werner Herzog film. His final bit about humour in Germany is one for the ages.
Barry, meanwhile, has a style that's all his own: snarky, sarcastic and deadpan, but almost endearing because he delivers it with his dimpled, slightly sinister grin. Whether he's talking about dropping an iPhone into a supposedly clean toilet, imagining what it's like to be the agent of a haiku poet, or (great visual) showing us what it looks and sounds like to call food "lipsmacking good," he's dead on in his observations. And his closer deconstructing a moronic piece in Esquire magazine never gets old.
Best set by someone with a really limited range: Amy Schumer
Schumer talks about sex, race (usually in relation to sex) and more sex. But somehow she keeps things fresh, whether it's in her spot-on descriptions of a girls' night out in Vegas or a pee-your-pants impersation of a tea-drinking, Downton Abbey-watching vagina that can't handle a big penis. As a bonus, she gave us outtakes from her roast speeches.
Best opener: K. Trevor Wilson
After delivering a competent full-length set of his own material at the Cameron House, Wilson - the self-professed "man mountain of comedy" - delivered three of his best stories to open for Patton Oswalt at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, proving that sometimes less is more. The winner of the JFL Montreal's Homegrown Comedy Competition, Wilson is a first-rate writer and uses his voice well - it drips with sarcasm - but he could work the stage a bit better.
Best dig at JFL42: Todd Barry
Barry's remark that JFL42 is the "most complicated comedy festival in the world," followed by an extended segment about checking in on Twitter, getting credits, getting $1 million back and then seeing every show got a bit laugh. Fitting, since minutes earlier, the people behind me were negotiating with a JFL42 worker about getting said "credits" back.
Least funny racist joke: Neal Brennan on Asian dudes
Yeah, call me (and the other half-dozen Asian guys in the crowd) biased, but Brennan's joke about how white women aren't into Asian men seemed not only unfunny and pointless but also out-of-date. Um, you reference 1998's Rush Hour to prove that a woman would find Chris Tucker hotter than Jackie Chan? And what did it have to do with poor Jeremy Lin?