Montrealer Jay Baruchel opens the first Just for Laughs gala at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts in Montreal, on Thursday, July 25, 2013.
Photograph by: Peter McCabe, The Gazette
Montreal-based Hollywood star (and recent ex-Sherlock Holmes) Jay Baruchel hosted the 7 p.m. Thursday gala with guests Hannibal Buress, Amy Schumer, Bo Burnham, Elon Gold, Graham Chittenden, David Pryde and Moshe Kasher. Here is a review of the gala from our panel of Gazette comedy aficionados.
OVERALL: Full moon or what? Delirious lunacy delivered by cast of unhinged comics. Bo Burnham and Moshe Kasher killed with twisted ravings. Ditto for Amy Schumer. It was a higher-octane Hannibal Buress. Elon Gold graduated from bar mitzvah to gala closer. And how about that Montreal connection: David Pryde and the Pride of NDG, Jay Baruchel?
HOST: The fourth-ever Montrealer to host - name the first three - was in his element, especially after Baruchel was named honorary captain of the Habs. But perhaps not after the urine test for drugs. It was great seeing Jay walk out on stage "like an airport gift shop" in his Habs sweater and draped by the fleur de lis. He had the right stuff.
HIGHLIGHTS: Kasher on circumcision: "My penis does not need a turtleneck." Even his aside to a fan was classic: "Be quiet forever!" Burnham's maniacal poetry: "Roses are gray. Violets are a different shade of gray. Let's go chase cars." That's by a dog, he explains. Also, Gold on trying to recruit folks to Judaism: "Do you crave persecution?"
LOWLIGHT: The guy who came in 20 minutes late with the mother of all knapsacks, and left the show 30 minutes early. Fortunately, with his knapsack. Paranoid a little? You bet. Didn't want that dude to be the one who killed.
OVERALL: A gala dedicated to our city, hosted by one of its favourite sons, with cameos by Youppi! and Chris Nilan, and featuring a short film in which Victor, the Just for Laughs mascot, smokes weed and goes to a Rush concert - what's not to like?
HOST: Recruiting a gala host who doesn't trade in live performance can be a recipe for me making jokes about it for years - see: Anderson, Pamela. But Baruchel's twitchy energy and unbridled love of Montreal, plus a strong lineup of comics, added up to a cool evening.
HIGHLIGHT: There were many: Graham Chittenden's oddly endearing nihilism; Moshe Kasher's oddly endearing physical self-loathing; David Pryde's oddly endearing story about being mistaken for a pedophile; Bo Burnham's crazypants songs and poetry, which were odd . . . well, you get it.
LOWLIGHT: At this point in festival history, I think we can all agree that egregious latecomers to the galas are as annoying as they are inevitable. So let's quit wasting any valuable stage time on making fun of them. Also: circumcision jokes.
OVERALL: Hosting by Jay Baruchel started out a little shaky and the show occasionally felt short on momentum, but a strong lineup of comics and material.
HOST: Some of Baruchel's comedy bits were a little creaky (although I loved the roulette homage to The Deer Hunter in the 'Day with Victor' video). His opening delivery was also a little rushed. However, when Baruchel was being Baruchel, he was a game host, fitting of being named honorary captain of the Habs by team owner Geoff Molson (on video) and Chris Nilan (in person).
HIGHLIGHTS: Every word out of Moshe Kasher's mouth and every square inch of his alternately overly hairy, overly bald and overly supple arms. Also, Bo Burnham's creepy poems. And Amy Schumer, slut: "Apparently it's not something you grow out of."
LOWLIGHT: Baruchel's opening bit about the internal monologue was meh, maybe because I'm not buying our hometown prince feeling that kind of insecurity. Even as a joke.
More festival coverage on our #mtlfest page at montrealgazette.com/mtlfest
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