By: Ariel Ryan
The night before his first appearance as host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah took the JFL42 stage and conquered a concert hall crammed full with a diverse crowd that was only fitting considering his repertoire.
The once fledgling South African comic expectedly guided the audience through a winding narrative on his favorite and most powerful topics: race relations and being African in the U.S. He cruised through seamless transitions between his experience growing up during Apartheid and visiting an intimidatingly white Scotland on tour, to police violence in the U.S. and being harangued for possibly carrying Ebola onto an airplane. I was one of the many self-conscious white audience members tense in my seat, reflecting on the truths he was charmingly digressing into the mic and wondering when it was appropriate for me to laugh.
At times, I became uncomfortable with my own ethnicity as he delivered his delightfully snarky gospel on the ridiculousness of white privilege and racism in the Southern U.S., which is where I call home. And all throughout it, I agreed wholeheartedly and reveled in the guilt and discomfort he was transferring onto me. Trevor is one of the few comedians I know of that truly understands satire and its proper use, and in that, I’ve always adored him and his ability to mock the system rather than its sufferable effects on others. His style is fresh, his perspective is direct and his points are so relieving you’ll be thanking him for finally saying them outloud. If straightforward sarcasm is your style, as it is mine, I recommend tuning into the new Daily Show on Comedy Network so you too can get a cold dose of racial realities from the straight-talking Trevor Noah.
Colleen Ballinger Evans is a YouTube personality who plays the character of Miranda Sings in her videos. Miranda Sings is a terrible singer who thinks she’s fabulous, with her rocking red lips and high-waisted sweatpants. Evans started the channel in 2008, and since then her videos have gone viral, bringing in a total of over 671,490,422 views.
Her JFL42 show at the Sony Centre was completely packed with squealing kids accompanied by dads who were dragged along for the ride. Watching the show was like waiting for a viral video to buffer outside a crowded 24-hour McDonald’s during a blizzard with spotty wifi. There were frequent drops in energy, especially in the last ten minutes. It was tedious watching a one-joke character drag on for an hour.
The show was all about Miranda and her attention span of three seconds, as demonstrated by the way she never spent too long on one song, always switching around after just a few seconds. There were jokes that the adults could laugh at, but they totally flew past the kids, who were the most excited to be there.
However, she encouraged audience participation and showed clips ofsome of her viral videos, which pleased all the Mirfandas. She also didn’t hesitate to promote her book, Self Help, throughout the show. Surely enough, this generated a lot of interest from the crowd, as a large amount of them lined up at the merchandise table after the show. So, in the end I guess I'm just being a hater, just like Colleen Ballinger Evans sang at the beginning of the show: haters pay her bills, and so do Miranda fans.
By: Fraser Allan Best
Upon finding a seat in the Sony Centre, the person next to me turned and made an off-colour joke. I won’t repeat it, but I laughed. The two of us were there to see Bill Burr, a headline comic at JFL, known for his crassly provocative and arguably misogynistic set. Burr did not disappoint.
Fresh out of the gate, Burr riffed on the sexual transition of Caitlyn Jenner. He plead ignorance as he blazed through jokes sure to offend the sensibilities of any audience, especially a Canadian one. But—for the most part—they didn't. Instead, the act offered a sort of catharsis. The more shocking parts of the show were reminiscent of a distant uncle on an offensive rant at a family reunion. But instead of having to nervously prod the potato salad, the audience was offered the release of laughter.
This is where Burr shines. Sensing the tension of the crowd after a rather cavalier mention of the Holocaust, Burr pivoted the show to settle on the topic. Burr built on the tension that most comics would try to contain. By the end of each controversial segment, Burr opened the pop can he had just shaken. The audience’s tension released through choruses of laughter.
But the show was not for everyone, and it wasn’t just a matter of the pert versus the puritanical. Burr’s performance was just as much about tone as it was about content. While Burr resonated with some, others may have preferred a different—but not necessarily “safer”—comic mood.
For many comedians, the festival is a place to showcase their most carefully compiled material to present a thematic arc or punchy cohesive statement. Burr’s choose-your-own-adventure style stunted this possibility, leaving the audience with a string of disjointed—albeit entertaining—segments on topics ranging from overpopulation to oral sex.
As the crowd exited the Sony Centre and started to whisper about the next comic at JFL42, I wondered if Burr's performance would stand out as memorable one.
By: Sanjana Nigam
Hannibal Buress, the final headliner this year at Toronto’s very own JFL42, was able to end the comedy festival with a bang, a rap and a standing ovation.
Buress, unlike many comedians, rose to fame a bit differently. Buress came into stand up after brief writing stints at Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock. What really brought on his success was his second album, “Animal Furnace,” which aired as a special on the Comedy Network, and his appearance on multiple late-night talk shows. All of this ultimately led to him receiving his own late night television series, Why? with Hannibal Buress.
Buress’s October 3 show, as he said, was his second biggest headlining show, with the entire Sony Centre packed to the brim. Buress kept the sentiments lighthearted, thanking the crowd for coming to watch him perform tonight rather than going to the Taylor Swift concert only a couple of blocks away.
Buress was able to keep the crowd laughing and engaged for two whole hours, discussing things like his worry of getting a botched laser eye surgery, only to be called “Blind Comedian Hannibal Buress” when introduced on stage. He joked about being rejected from a two-star hotel, expressed his hatred for baseball and addressed the speculation surrounding his viral Bill Cosby routine.
Buress kept momentum going till the very end of the show. He started to end the show by discussing the absurd gibberish lyrics in rap songs, using examples ranging from the weak beat of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” to Tupac’s lyrics about sickle cell anemia. This ultimately led him to end the show rapping in gibberish with a beat provided by his DJ and a trio of ballerinas as background dancers. The minute Buress started rapping, the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation, and when he went acapella the entire crowd boomed and yelled even louder.
The show ended past midnight with a satisfied crowd and a great concluding act. The stamina and talent Buress possesses really goes to show that this man can please a crowd.
Almost a year after stepping down as host of The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson says he has only regretted it once, when Donald Trump announced he was running for president. Thankfully, he had the opportunity to get a few shots in at the controversial candidate in his performance on October 2nd at the Sony Centre for JFL42. He compared Trump to a dog that urinates everywhere to mark his territory and encouraged the audience to tell everyone they know that “Trump” is Scottish slang for “shit.” It's not actually, he informs us, but if enough people spread it around, it soon will be.
Of course, Trump wasn't the only one subject to mockery that night. Ferguson shared several anecdotes, both from his own life and from his time as a talk show host, that had the audience gasping for breaths between laughter.
A personal favourite was his tale of how The Late Late Show's biannual “Magic Week” came to be, which Ferguson stated he could have never told on the show itself. Apparently, an employee of the show had gotten incredibly drunk in Las Vegas and stolen a limo and called the studio after being arrested to ask for help. Ferguson called in a favour from his boss at an old job, a construction foreman he worked for in New York City, who proceeded to go through at least twelve of his own acquaintances before getting in contact with someone who knew a judge in Las Vegas. Through less than legitimate means, they attempted to get the judge to throw out the case (the employee was to be charged with grand theft auto and a DUI), but somehow ended up with the only judge in Vegas who wouldn't take a bribe. However, they did catch wind of his other job, representing a group of sub-par magicians. Ferguson cut a deal with the judge that they would put five of his clients on their show for a “magic week,” and the charges against the show's employee “disappeared” in a magic act of their own.
Ferguson also spoke of his life changing experience in a high-tech Japanese bathroom, a ghostly experience at “one of the most haunted hotels in America,” and his mother's horrible home decor from the seventies, with particular note given to a table so horrendous he couldn't snort a line of cocaine off of it due to being frightened by it.
Overall, Ferguson gave a hilarious, reflective show, deriving most of the jokes and humour from his own life and experiences, not only giving the audience many laughs, but also an interesting look into the performer himself.
All photos are from JFL. The illustration credit goes to A.I. Marin.