Dane Cook performs at the first Just for Laughs gala at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts in Montreal on Wednesday, July 24, 2013.
Photograph by: Justin Tang, The Gazette
MONTREAL - Dane Cook hosted the first of Just for Laughs English-language galas Wednesday night at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts. Among those appearing in the 7 p.m. show: Harland Williams, Gary Gulman, Greg Fitzsimmons, Robert Kelly, Alonzo Bodden. Here is a review of the gala from our panel of Gazette reviewers.
OVERALL: Wow!! No jugglers, no magicians, no nonsense. Just stellar standup. God bless Robert Kelly, Harland Williams, Alonzo Bodden, Gary Gulman and Jeremy Hotz for keeping it real - FUNNY!
HOST: Dane Cook, in uncustomary support role, kept the energy going and delivered solid shtick on texting: "Guys will never win text arguments with girls. They type faster. You're on the fourth line and she sends out whole Torah."
HIGHLIGHTS: Bodden on U.S. health care: "Have to go to airport for X-rays." Kelly on reality show: "If you don't cry when they move the bus on Extreme Home Makeover, you're a serial killer." Hotz on dumb Canadian money: "You can see right through our $20 bill - just like our Prime Minister."
LOWLIGHT: Greg Fitzsimmons: "I fly first class, but I fart in economy." But he got his when Williams spoke about his smooth flight here "until some retard from first class came back to fart."
OVERALL: Fantastic from the start (then-and-now video highlights of gala stars that reminded us of Zach Galifianakis's Flock of Seagulls look back in the day) through rock-star hosting by Dane Cook to a strong slate of comic styles from storyteller (Gary Gulman) and traditional setup-punchline (Robert Kelly) to awkward one-liners (Harland Williams).
HOST: The audience started out thin and filled out a little but once Dane Cook took the stage, the applause sounded like it was coming from a double-full house. These were fans! And he bounced that energy right back, with easy vibrant comedy that even covered his campaign to ditch the casual use of the word "rape" to characterize defeat in video games and the like.
HIGHLIGHTS: Harland Williams for his whack-job absurdity, Robert Kelly for loving his wife but wanting her dead (you had to be there), and Gary Gulman for spelling out the rules of grocery-store checkout lines.
LOWLIGHT: Not a weak spot in the whole lineup so I'll pick on the latecomers. The many, many latecomers. But even that produced good jokes from host Dane Cook, who mocked "the zombie apocalypse" of slow moving latecomers.
OVERALL: A serious cast of comedy heavyweights brought their A-game to the first gala, a high-testosterone affair that riffed on some classic themes but ventured off the beaten path.
HOST: Dane Cook had the crowd on its feet before he even said a word. After taking the audience through the subtle complexities of emogies and text fights, Cook played the perfect host and left plenty of room for the other comics to make their mark.
HIGHLIGHTS: Robert Kelly's high-energy take on the battle of the sexes (complete with murder plots) and the dark musings of festival veteran Harland Williams were audience favourites. But I have a soft spot for Gary Gulman's low-key re-enactment of a supermarket line brawl ... bonus points for working "temerity" into his act.
LOWLIGHTS: There were no lowlights on stage but rather in the crowd: show up on time, people!
More festival coverage on our #mtlfest page at montrealgazette.com/mtlfest
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