The 2007 version of the classic Bubbling With Laughter show has to be the best Just For Laughs show I have ever seen. Bubbling With Laughter is always a good ticket but tonight's show was simply superb. Usually, this buffet of stand-up comedy offers four or five comics and an MC and a comic or two simply do okay. Tonight, there were 10 comics and they all destroyed.
Any show that opens with Canadian stand-up comic Mike MacDonald puts pressure on the other comics on the bill. MacDonald, a 25 year Just For Laughs veteran, was once again excellent. I especially enjoyed his very personal and touching take on his relationship with his wife. This guy has nothing to prove so he can be a little more philosophical in his act and this is refreshing, interesting, and funny in a different way.
Greg Proops (of Whose Line Is It Anyways fame) followed with his dark and extremely caustic take on American politics. It may be damning praise to say Proops is an erudite comic but you definitely need to know your stuff to follow this very smart man down the various paths his razor sharp mind takes. He was well served by a Bubbling With Laughter audience that knew enough to get the jokes and was more than willing to let him destroy American politics and history.
American Reno Collier followed Greg Proops and Mike MacDonald -not something a sane comic would be willing to do-- and he was also at the top of his game. He does, amongst other things, West Virginia redneck material that is very very funny.
Not on the announced roster of stand-up comics I was given for this 2007 Bubbling With Laughter show at Just For Laughs was John Bueller. He came out with his set list, explained this was to be a showcase for some British show or something, and then admitted he was unprepared. He was less than okay and my guess is he did not get the deal he was there to get. If I can make a suggestion to any comic looking for a deal at Just For Laughs: if they give you a spot to showcase your talent do not treat it like open mic night, prepare, and leave your damn set list backstage.
In what is without a doubt the very best Just For Laughs show I have ever seen the stand out of the evening in a high quality line-up was Ricky Smiley. He set up the audience a bit with the standard white folk versus black folk stuff Black comics sometimes do but this was just his way of easing the crowd into some of the most original, funny, exciting stand-up material I have seen in a long time. His routine on poor folk's funerals is something you simply have to see and I am certain will get to see as this is going to be a classic. Smiley used every single tool in a comic's box to get every single laugh he could out of this really good routine without ever milking it. I especially liked the way he used physical comedy to help the audience visualize some of his really original material. Smiley is a comic I will make every effort to see again.
Australian Fiona O'Loughlin was first after the intermission. This was my second time or third time seeing O'Loughlin (I am getting a bit punch drunk) so I was looking forward to seeing her and she was once again solid. I appreciate the fact she changes her set from show to show. This is not something 99% of the audience can notice but it shows a high level of professionalism in a world were many comics at Just For Laughs do the same 7-minute set show after show, night after night. O'Loughlin chooses not to so seeing her again is a new and very good experience.
Canadian Jebb Fink was on next and he showed there is no rhyme or reason in stand-up comedy. Why Jebb Fink is not a household name is something I fail to understand, especially after this Bubbling With Laughter show
The second half of this Just For Laughs buffet style evening of comedy was Canadian heavy. John Dore was another unannounced comic. I got the feeling he too was there to showcase his skills for a deal and I am convinced he scored it big time. I have always like Dore, an original comic who can turn anger on and off and can skillfully toy with the audience's expectations and emotions.
The show closed with Deb DiGiovanni and Jeremy Hotz. DiGiovani was new to me and I very much liked what I saw though some of the gym material could be a bit more original. To be honest, I am not the world's biggest Jeremy Hotz fan. I have seen him a few times at Just For Laughs and on TV and though I always enjoy his comedy and have not seen him have a bad set there is something about his style that is not quite my cup of tea. This being said and not to be construed as a reservation, Hotz was excellent.
This Bubbling With Laughter show was simply the best stand-up comedy evening I have ever had.