The Flying Solo series is going to be new ground for comedy fans and the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival. Traditionally, the English version of the comedy festival has officially run the third week of July with some spillover a couple of days before for shows like the Nasty Show and a couple of days after with a few held over shows. This year, for example, most Just For Laughs shows run July 17 to 23. However, the folks at JFL are taking a tad wee bit of a gamble in 2006 so a few shows will open a week earlier and get a two week run. This is what is called the Flying Solo series.
The Flying Solo series sounds like it is going to be a daring venture for the people at Just For Laughs. What is certain is there is going to be something for everyone and, always important in my book, the price is certainly most righteous. Since this is the first (though probably not the last) year for the Flying Solo series, my impressions are based on what I gathered at a very nice press launch lunch Just For Laughs recently held to promote this new series.
The idea behind Flying Solo, a smorgasbord of one-man shows, is to give comics who need more than a 7-minute set a stage. Every year, Just For Laughs has featured two or three one-man shows. Bigger Than Jesus starring Rick Miller, John Pinette at the Gesu a couple of years ago. Googlewack, Loose with Tommy Tiernan, or the ensemble spectacular Gumboots a few years back have always had great success. The Flying Solo venture this year is going to run in addition to these one-man shows and give six different comedians or stand-up comics and one mime a venue where they call fully explore and expand their comedic interests.
The Flying Solo series sounds like a good idea for comedy fans who want more than the standard buffet of six or so 7-minute sets by a variety of comics that is the forte of Just For Laughs or who prefer a more daring or challenging show that your usual club stand-up comedy. Looking at the lineup, this series sounds like it is going to fill a need.
The line-up for this series is Demetri Martin in These Are Jokes, British comedian Stewart Lee in 90's Comedian, what will probably be a very weird musical comedy evening with Tim Minchin in Darkside, Man 1 Bank 0 with Patrick Combs in the story behind depositing a 95,000 junk mail cheque, something called The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam where one man takes on the Nigerian scammers at their own game, former Corky and the Juice Pigs member Phil Nichol in Nearly Gay, and, the show with the shortest run in the Flying Solo series and the show you will probably have to sell your first born to get tickets to, Billy the Mime (if you saw The Aristocrats you remember this guy: he is the only mime you do not want to kill on sight). Paul Provenza, the director of The Aristocrats, is producing both the Billy the Mime and The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam shows.
One thing that you can bet dollars to donuts on this series is the price is certainly right. Tickets run $15.00 each but something called a flight pass will get you two different shows for $25.00.
More information on this promising though untried series is available at the Just For Laughs website www.hahaha.com . For tickets, I always recommend going straight through the Just For Laughs box office at 1-888-244-3155.