Wiseguys was a new experience for me at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival as I usually go for the Uptown Comics ticket instead. I decided to try something new this year and have no regrets. Wiseguys is your usual Just For Laughs stand-up comedy show with four comics and an MC. The heavily Italian crowd was very appreciative of the show, I had a good time.
The Wiseguys MC was stand-up comic Frank Spadone and he was very good. I would like to see him perform a solo show if I can. Spadone did spend a lot of time mentioning Italy had won the World Cup of Soccer, a pride that is understandable as Italy is not usually known for winning anything, especially not world wars (We're with you guys. No, wait, were with the other guys now.) Frank Spadone did lay on the best poutine jokes I have heard a comic do at Just For Laughs. The comics featured in this Just For Laughs showcase were Canadian Chris Nannarone, Rocky Laporte, Mike Birbiglia, and Mike Marino.
I really enjoyed Rocky Laporte. He has a great series of callbacks about the name of his uncle's store that ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. Laporte has a certain Rodney Dangerfield style that is truly his own. Mike Marino, a blonde, blue-eyed Italian, ripped. He has a great comedy routine about Jersey language, I loved his noticing the difference between Italian Canadians, who say How you doin', hey and Italian Americans who say hey, how you doin'? His observations about the presence of Italians on TV went beyond the usual you only see us in gangster roles. Marino also made a very good case for electing an Italian American President and explained how many Middle East problems would be solved by such a president.
I liked Canadian Chris Nannarone. I was a bit perplexed by his usage of many Italian expressions only the Italians in the crowd could relate to but then found out his CD his bilingual so he probably does sets on Italian too. He did garble a few of the punch lines.
Mike Birbiglia, who is quickly making quite a name for himself, was the lesser moment in the show. The fact he had cue cards on a stool, though he did not use them, raised a red flag for me. He also did some of the material from his first CD. Birbiglia is a good stand-up comic but I think his performance at Wiseguys was a bit unpolished and disjointed.
I am not totally convinced I will choose the Wiseguys show over the Uptown Comics show at next year's Just For Laughs though I had a good time. My guest, however, had a really good time so if we catch a show together next year this could very well be the oe though it is not quite an offer you can't refuse.