2011 Just for Laughs Comedy Festival

According to a shoddy website I came across recently, laughing 100 times provides your body with the same health benefits as about 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Vigorous laughter boosts your heart rate and uses muscles in the face, stomach and diaphragm. For me, that was enough convincing to toss those runners and head straight to Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, the largest of its kind in the world. This year features tons of free outdoor events like circus arts with clowns and acrobats and street dancing. The fest is also well-stocked with the best in stand-up including a brand new collaborative effort hosted by Canada’s own Russell Peters, the whimsical ramblings of Eddie Izzard as well as acts by hundreds of up-and-coming comedians. So skip that evening workout, and laugh your way into a six-pack, or worst case, drink one.

The “Best Night Ever”
If you are not familiar with this hilarious Indian-Canadian comedian than your Canadian citizenship should be revoked. Russell Peters will host the Best Night Ever, which will include acts by comedians handpicked by Peters himself. Featured in the lineup is special guest Jeremy Hotz, known for his writing on The Jon Stewart Show and stand-up genius, as well as Nick Thune, a bearded, plaid-wearing humorist known for his dead-pan comedy and accompanying acoustic guitar. The show also stars Dom Irrera, Jimmy Carr, and Sebastian Maniscalco. Jam-packed with talent, there is no way this performance will disappoint. $50 – $90, July 27 – 28, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m., Place des Arts – Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.

Reggie Watts
Hilarious, musical, brilliant and very bizarre, Reggie Watts is making quite a name for himself internationally. This Seattle-based comedian/musician uses improvisation as a staple in each performance. His musical sets are created on the spot using his charming voice and looping machine. Every one of Reggie’s songs and performances is different, you never know what you are going to get. His unique solo performance even caught the attention of Conan O’Brien who handpicked him to open nightly on the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour. His YouTube clips have caught the attention of almost three million people worldwide, so don’t miss your chance to see him live!  $27, July 30th, 7 p.m., L’Astral, 305 Rue Sainte Catherine St. W.

Outdoor Events
The next three upcoming weekends, the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival will be holding an array of odd, quirky and entertaining outdoor events. Weekend One (July 16) begins with the work of thousands of Montreal artists at Pinkarnival, a parade inspired by Jean Paul Gaultier’s exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art. The parade begins at the Museum and runs down St. Catherine Street to Place des Arts at 7:30 p.m. On Weekend Two (July 21 – 24) watch Place des Festivals turn into a circus with cabaret shows, clowns on stilts, knife-throwers and free stand-up shows. Weekend Three (July 28 – 31) will close the festival as the theme suggests, with “humour all over the place.” There will be oodles of free comedy shows, gags in the street, a twin parade (yes a parade showcasing twins). The night will come to close with a massive dance party featuring Montreal DJs jojoflores and Mike Fresco of GotSoul as well as live performances from Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, and Nightfever Productions. Place des Arts.

Best of the Fest
If there are just too many events and comedians featured in this year’s Comedy Fest to get your head around, The Best of the Fest is a perfect solution. A Just for Laughs’ tradition, the Best of the Fest takes over Comedyworks featuring stand-up by festival favorites in an intimate club venue. The best part is that the lineups are unannounced so you never know what big stars are going to stop by.  July 25 – 31. Call 514-398-9661 for prices.

Image courtesy of Shayne Kaye.

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