Bubbling with Laughter at Club Soda last night was 2 hours well spent. Emcee Shaun Majumder, a staple at the Just for Laughs Festival, was a little uneven in what is a difficult role for many comedians. Being an emcee demands that a comic be able to warm up the audience but not out shine the stand-up comics that will be appearing over the course of the show. Ideally the emcee also picks up the audience after a comedian is less than stellar. In Majumder’s case he had an easy go of it last night as the bulk of the show was solid.
The evening lead off with a bang in the form English comic Hal Cruttenden who simply rocked. A writer for the Omid Djalili show and host of England’s The World of Stand-up has television, radio and movie credits that are impressive. What really counts for a stand-up though is what they can do on stage and Cruttenden made it clear that he is most comfortable with a microphone and an audience. He will be appearing Tuesday, 15-Jul-2008 7:00pm at Britcom at Club Soda, Wednesday, 16-Jul-2008 7:00pm at the Just For Laughs Gala at the St. Denis Theatre, and Thursday, 17-Jul-2008 7:00pm at Laugh-rodisiacs at the Metropolis.
Following Cruttenden we were treated to the kinetic Jason Byrne who’s problems with travel, the French language and trials and joys of raising his boys with his Northern Irish wife came at the audience in a rapid fire mixture of stand-up bit and improv. Jason Byrne kept the audience in stitches and has two more scheduled gigs both on the 15th of July at the festival at the O’Comics (Irish comedian’s show) at the worst venue at the festival the Kola Note at 7 p.m. , then again at Bubbling with Laughter at 9:30 p.m. No doubt you will get to see more of him at the O’Comics show than at the Bubbling with Laughter show so it might just be worth your while to put up with the slack jawed line control and shoddy wait staff at the Kola to catch him there.
Joe Derosa followed Jason Byrne. If you try to visit Joe Derosa’s website you will get the message This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later. The same might be said for the hit and miss, woe is me, misanthropic set Derosa delivered at Bubbling with Laughter. He fell flat with only a few good laughs and nothing that really hung together. If last night was any indication of what he is capable of then you probably don’t want to track him down. Derosa will be appearing at one of the traditionally funniest shows of the Festival Just For Laughs when he does The Nasty Show at midnight on the 17th of July.
The fourth set in the first half of the show was all about Canadian content with Montreal musical comics and gag tellers Bowser and Blue playing the audience into the intermission with stuff only a Canadian audience could appreciate. While funny and entertaining Bowser and Blue were clearly playing to the hometown crowd seemingly unaware that a Just for Laughs audience is comprised of non- Canadians as well. Their set was funny and well received by the majority of the audience but at our table the British couple were clearly unimpressed as the cultural, political and satirical references were entirely without meaning to them. Still the funny men were entertaining and if you are a Canuck you still have a chance to catch them at the Joan Rivers Gala at the St. Denis Theatre on July 16th, The Nasty Show at Club Soda on July 17th, and finally at the Just for Laughs Saluts Ernie Butler show at Club Soda on the 20th (this is the real showcase for Canadian stand-up talent).
After the intermission and the Majumder warm up the audience was roaring with laughter to the flat as a pancake delivery of Stewart Francis. In the tradition of Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg, Francis delivered the goods in flawless fashion and is definitely a comic to be sought out during his stay at the festival. He will be appearing at the Bubbling with Laughter show at the Club Soda on the 15th at 9:30 p.m. and again at the Joan Rivers Gala at the St. Denis Theatre on the 16th. I wouldn’t be surprised though if he also ended up at The Best of the Fest – really the best ticket in town $25.00 at the Comedy Works, reservations required, no passes valid - 514-398-9661.
The strong second half was continued with the Irish comedy David O’Doherty who does a combination stand-up and musical comedy bit that was brilliantly funny and timely. Well worth the effort to catch if only to see a full grown man with a circa 1980’s Emo Philips hair cut playing a meter long plastic keyboard. Part of the O’Comics show at the Kola you can also catch O’Doherty in a one man show as part of the Flying Solo series at Cabaret Juste Pour Rire on the 15th.
Winding out the night was the simply stupendous Tom Papa who delivered the goods from the time he put microphone to mouth. Papa works from the stand point of a married with children man a little challenged by what life has to offer and a little befuddled by the stupidity around him. With all the aplomb of a seasoned professional Papa works the stage space, the audience and his material with ease. Of all the comics at the Bubbling with Laughter show last night Papa had flawless segue’s, sharp callbacks and kept the audience laughing until he exited stage right. Tom Papa has a one man show going at the Gesu theatre as part of The Richard Jeni One-person solo series from July 15th to 20th at 7 p.m.