Eight hilarious stand-up acts you need to see at JFL42
Just for Laugh's fifth annual comedy fest brings dozens of blockbuster comics to Toronto this September. Here, the must-see acts, from superstars and up-and-comers to some names you might have forgotten about
The high-strung stand-up
A Maria Bamford performance resembles a tightrope act—with her confessional style and tightly wound persona, she seems on the edge of falling apart. The Lady Dynamite star’s mesmerizingly strange presence is a perfect fit for the emotional range of her material, which covers everything from her family to her struggles with mental health. Thursday, September 22 and Friday, September 23. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes’ Blvd., jfl42.com.
The late-night laugher
It’s been a long, strange year for Trevor Noah, the little-known comic who took the impossible job of Jon Stewart. While he’s worked to make his Daily Show younger and more diverse than it was in the Stewart era, he’s faced mediocre ratings and an Emmy nomination shutout. But Noah is first and foremost a stand-up comic, who rose to prominence with his unique perspective as a South African in America—and we expect that old spirit to shine in this show. Friday, September 23. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., jfl42.com.
The sitcom queen
You may have trouble believing this, but there was a time when Roseanne Barr—Last Comic Standing judge, 2012 Peace and Freedom Party presidential candidate, current left-wing Trump supporter, oddly confrontational Twitter presence—was the star of one of the most popular and beloved sitcoms in America. Barr’s popularity rests on a delicate balance between her relatable, working-class voice and her more abrasive side. Both should be on display at this headliner gig. Friday, September 23. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., jfl42.com.
The prince of podcasts
Though best known as the creator of Community and Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon most hardcore fans are listeners of his Harmontown podcast—a “live therapy session” in which he talks bluntly about his career and culture at large. For longtime listeners, this Toronto taping will be like hanging out with their ornery, disgruntled pal. Tuesday, September 27. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes’ Blvd., jfl42.com.
Yup, Sinbad. The guy with the earring from A Different World. The king of “men are like this / women are like this!” comedy. Sure, there are funnier comedians, and maybe we’re being wilfully perverse, but aren’t you at least mildly curious to see what the star of First Kid is up to these days? Sunday, September 25. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes’ Blvd., jfl42.com.
Jackie Kashian is performing three times during JFL42 (Sept. 23 at the Rivoli, Sept. 24 at the Garrison, and Sept. 25 at Comedy Bar), but we suggest angling a ticket for her Sept. 23 ComedyCon appearance at Second City (only available with a pass or VIP ticket). She’ll record an episode of her popular podcast The Dork Forest with local upstart Amanda Brooke Perrin, Todd Barry and Maria Bamford. Friday, September 23. Second City, 51 Mercer St., jfl42.com.
The sore loser
Andy Kindler has made a career out of being less successful than other comics: his sets are often strings of bitter but cutting insults at big-ticket cultural mediocrities (“Adam Carolla is like Hitler if Hitler wasn’t funny”; “Eddie Izzard is doing his show in French. Will he be able to fake ad-lib as well in other languages?”). He returns to Just For Laughs for the fifth year to host the Alternative Show, a nightly showcase of up-and-coming alternative comedians, and who knows? You just might see him share the stage with a few of his future targets. Wednesday, September 28 to Saturday, October 1. Second City, 51 Mercer St., jfl42.com.
The comeback kid
The worst year of Tig Notaro’s life was 2012: her mother died, she had a near-deadly bacterial infection and she was diagnosed with breast cancer diagnosis. All that led to some of her most powerful and revealing comedy, launching her to a new level of fame. Her struggles, recovery, and professional resurgence were documented in last year’s Netflix documentary Tig and form the basis of her new TV series, One Mississippi. Notaro’s struggles also brought new warmth to her famously dry, deadpan persona, on brilliant display in this show. Sunday, September 25. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., jfl42.com.