I haven’t just been sitting on my arse for the past two weeks. I’ve been doing this, too.

For ten days in venues all across Toronto, JFL42 provided festival-goers with an all-you-can-eat array of comedy. In its fifth year, the festival expanded its roster of stand up, sketches, live podcast recordings and improv to include exclusive close-up Q&As with industry veterans. With more laughs on offer than it was possible to obtain (believe me, I tried), here are the Best Bits of JFL42 2016:

  1. Best Punchline – Mark Forward: “I miss my dad every day, but one day I’m gonna hit him.”
  2. Best Exit Clause – Dana Gould: “Til death do us part is god’s way of saying I can get you out of this, but it’s a little extreme.
  3. Best Response to Discovering Masturbation – Kumail Nanjiani on his cousin: “His lips moved but no sound came out. Then he picked up a bb gun and shot a crow.”
  4. Best Mourning Routine – Gary Gulman: “I don’t know when waking up and getting up became two separate negotiations.”
  5. Best Anti-Misogyny Check and Mate – Cameron Esposito: “It’s not weird to consider that women could save you. We made you. All of you.”
  6. Best Toronto Man Cave – Amanda Brooke Perrin: “I love Castle Frank station because it sounds like your dad’s renovated basement.”
  7. Best Defensive Remark – Neal Brennan: “My girlfriend’s dad asked me if I owned a gun. A gun? I don’t even own an umbrella. I couldn’t protect your daughter from a drizzle.
  8. Best Justification for an Ikea Trip – Danny Bhoy: “I hate church pews. 8 inches for your back, 2 inches for your arse. Who do they think is coming? Giraffes?”
  9. Best Layoff-er – Ronny Chieng: “Air lines keep cutting costs by cutting frills. People fly with risky airlines if the cost is low enough. They’re just seeing how low the cost can get before you no longer care about the possibility of dying.”
  10. Best Douche-dar – Hasan Minhaj: “I don’t want to talk about politics is the new I’m not racist, but…
  11. Best Resume Key Skill – Joe DeRosa: “What do all serial killers have in common? Success! They’re all really good at what they do.”
  12. Best Display of Dominance – Sabrina Jalees: “You’re gay? I thought you were sporty. What do you say to that? Do you just do a back handspring into a pussy?”
  13. Best New Quiz Show – Mark Little tested the crowd: “Is this a Justin Bieber lyric? Or something a demon says to a small boy he wants to consume?”
  14. Best Endorsement of Canadian Audiences – Dan Harmon: “Is the Adderall flowing freely here? Is that how you have so much energy? You socialise medicine and everyone has ADD.”
  15. Best Beauty Tip – DeAnne Smith: “If you want to look as young as I do, it’s very simple. Have unresolved childhood issues.”
  16. Best Call for Gender Equality – Jak Knight: “No matter who does it, Titty Fucking looks dumb as shit. And there’s no male analogue. No woman has ever been like Boy, get on your knees and shrug your shoulders repeatedly.
  17. Best Logical Phallus-sy – Sophie Buddle: “I ask him why he likes it when I’m choking during a blowjob. He says it makes him feel like it’s big. You know when a box says choking hazard? It’s not ‘cause the pieces are big. People choke on grapes, not eggplants.
  18. Best Silver Lining – Tim Meadows: “The bad economy was really good for Detroit, ‘cause people couldn’t buy guns and ammo.”
  19. Best Navel Gaza-ing – Neal Brennan: “The irony of the word Palestine is how much it sounds like a Jewish last name.”
  20. Best Sails Pitch – Demitri Martin: “Cruises seem like a difficult thing to market. Do you like hotels? What if they could sink?
  21. Best Living Well – Emo Phillips: “I hate being divorced. I’d rather be a widower.”
  22. Best Use of Braille – Moshe Kasher: “Abs don’t actually do anything useful. They just let blind women know which douchebags not to fuck.”
  23. Best 2 for 1 Groupon – Christophe Davidson: “A bed and breakfast is a good place to see the breakdown in a relationship and a small business at the same time.”
  24. Best Family Reunion – Before Kumail Nanjiani told a story, he asked the crowd if anyone there was related to him.
    “Yeah” said a voice. “Your cousin Nather, from Dallas.”
    Kumail got flustered and sighed before going onto his joke. “So this is the story of how I started wearing underwear…”
  25. Best Excuse for Legalization – Joe DeRosa: “Can you believe Phelps smokes weed? I can’t believe he only smokes weed. Drugs make you better at sport. It’s been proven time and time again.”
  26. Best Post Match Analysis – Danny Bhoy: “How did sportspeople describe their emotional journeys before the invention of roller coasters?”
  27. Best “Missing the Point” – Hasan Minhaj: “How many times do we just put our heads down and do what we should, not what we want?”
    An audience member cheers.
    “No, that’s not…”
  28. Best “It’s 2016” Moment – Cameron Esposito: “How can there be such a thing as a wrong bathroom when 2000 years ago there was no such thing as a bathroom?”
  29. Best Lesson Learned – Dana Gould: “Fun size chocolate is the first time kids get dicked over by advertising.”
  30. Best Backup Career – Is Sabrina Jalees psychic? She gestured to a guy in the front row and made a reference to “Michael’s” sperm.
    “But my name is” He replied and showed his ID. The room went nuts.
    “YOU NEED A PRIZE.” She shouted, before presenting him with a full beer.
  31. Best Life Goals – Jackie Kashian: “When I was four I didn’t want a baby. I wanted moccasins and the fuck out of Wisconsin.”
  32. Best “I love you too, Mom” Gary Gulman: “Must be nice is how Jews say congratulations.”
  33. Best Comeback – Kumail Nanjiani (on Harmontown): “The first time I masturbated, I blacked out and came to.”
    Jeff Davis: “So you blacked out? And came, too?”
  34. Best Call Out – DeAnne Smith: “Sinbad, do you realise that as you’re telling me you’re not a pedophile, you’re holding a bag of candy?”
  35. Best Culture Shock – Hasan Minhaj would periodically deliver punchlines in Urdu before repeating them in English. You’d hear tittering or gasps around the crowd before the rest of the crowd got the joke. It always seemed natural, never pandering.
  36. Best Paradox – Mark Forward: “There are two sides to every story. People say that, right? Which also means there isn’t.”
  37. Best Pakistani Marketing Department – Kumail Nanjiani: “We had a theme park called Fun Land. It sounds like a first draft. It’s around the corner from Work Building and Food Place.
  38. Best Downplay – Emo Phillips: “I like the south. Of course, I’m prejudiced.”
  39. Best Use of Sex Sells – Tim Meadows: “The Dyson Airblade feels like I’m fisting a robot.”
  40. Best Sketchy Business – Amanda Brooke Perrin: “I hate portrait tattoos. It’s always of some baby and the story is never It’s super alive and working at Reitmans.
  41. Best Revelation – Demitri Martin: “When they came up with the word invent, that must’ve been a weird moment.”
  42. Best Cut Down – Neal Brennan: “Skrillex looks like he got his hair cut by one of his own songs.”

Even though Carrot Top was absent, props go to all the organisers of this amazing annual event. The atmosphere around the festival engendered a sense of community, with fans eager to share their favourite acts or suggestions on who to see.  If you’re into a world-class comedy festival on a local stage, check out JFL42 next year. Or don’t, I’m not your dad or anything.

Is that what Campbell called The Meeting with the Goddess?

Let’s skip the bit when I wank on about my withering mental acuity. Last night was magic.

4.30pm – Harmontown pre-show meetup.

Not an official anything, there’s a Harmontown fan group on Facebook, organised by the amazing Earthshine Janne. A known personality on the podcast, Janne brews her own Earthshine (moonshine, but for a podcast whose premise is leaving Earth to start a moon colony) and Absinthe (of Malice, as it’s known). She travelled across the border with a few fans and about 30-40 of us met up at the Brazen Head.  It was something special to meet up with fellow fans of a show that’s niche enough to appeal to a select few. We had some drinks, laughs and tried the infamous Absinthe of Malice. Smooth stuff. It was cool to make some friends and build a sense of camaraderie before heading off to Kumail’s sold out show.

7pm – Kumail Nanjiani.

Kumail’s long been one of my favourites and this show was a barn burner right from the start. Kumail writes great jokes, but it’s his delivery that really kills. He has this beautiful, lilting voice, and he has a way with sarcasm and incredulity. There’s also something about his turn of phrase (like calling an emu an ostrich with the eyes of a sad human being) that’s unique and makes him stand out.

With an already great set, a perfect moment arrived when he started to tell a personal anecdote. “Wait, there’s nobody from Pakistan here, is there?” A small cheer rang out. “Shit.” He replied. “I don’t know anyone here do I?” Some guy called out that he’d gone to the same school, but one year younger. “Oh gawd. I’m not related to anyone am I?” A voice called out, his cousin Nather who’s been living in Dallas. Visibly flushed, Kumail started fretting. “I can’t tell this, I just can’t. Oh fuck.” After a roaring cheer from the crowd, he relented. “I’m gonna regret this. But this is the story about how I started wearing underwear.”

9pm – Harmontown.

Insane. A brilliant show from start to finish. Celtic, vegan, Mennonite improv, a quick spate of rapping, breakdancing and striptease. Former therapist (and Kumail’s wife) Emily V. Gordon doing some couple’s therapy on stage (and very well, I might add). Audience gifts, an audience member delivering Dan an absurdly large amount of Tums. Kumail completing the anecdote he was too bashful to tell after learning his cousin was in the crowd at the earlier show. Crazy amounts of riffing. As a real fan, I couldn’t believe how great the show went. I talked to a couple of people who’d never heard an episode but just liked Community/Rick and Morty. Chatting post show, it’s safe to say Harmontown has some new fans.

Post show a bunch of us went to Cabin Fever on Bloor for a few drinks. Dan, Jeff and Spencer came along to talk with fans and it was a blast meeting a bunch more Harmenians. Testament to the sense of community was how nobody was particularly interested in interrupting Jason Sudeikis from playing his pinball tournament in order to grab a selfie.

Like I said, a magical night.

If you want to take the portmanteau “meh-diocre” go ahead and run with it. Who says I never give you anything?

It happened last night. After days and days of excitement, exhaustion and incremental sanity loss, I pulled the trigger.

I cancelled my third show of the night in favour of getting eight hours sleep.

It’s okay, I had more than enough of my fill (and heard that the 10.30pm Nick Thune show I cancelled was meh-diocre).

7pm – In Conversation with Dan Harmon

Expecting a fan to be truly objective about something like this is lunacy. If you’re involved on such an emotional level, parsing the information you’re receiving critically is impossible. This time I’m not just talking about me.

The host was a massive Dan Harmon fan, which is great to see. He spoke passionately about the humanity inherent to his narratives, characters. His ability to filter popular culture into identifiable moments that resonated in an audience. He referenced niche Harmontown, Community and Rick & Morty quotes in a coherent manner. He was a well spoken, intelligent host who understood his subject.

Unfortunately this meant he also could not be fully objective and at times had trouble reigning Dan in. Some metaphors ran a little long (the tangents were well expected) and could’ve done with the kind of rallying usually the domain of Jeff Davis, his friend and comptroller. The first 10-15 minutes of the conversation were a little bit muddled, but after that it settled into a cohesive groove.

I’m not prepared to be objective either. I had a blast and alternated between wonderment and hesitation. There’s a level of idolatry that I hold and part of me is terrified of that crumbling. If I came away truly disappointed, that’d cause a wound deep in my core that would fester and eventually play out in some unsanitary fashion. Thing is, when Dan was on point he was on point. One particular notion resonated significantly. He talked about the vicious cycle of narcissism and self-loathing, how one informs the other and they snake around to bite each other’s tail. Am I looking for an excuse to shoehorn in the word ouroboros? Am I ever not? There’s something in hating yourself because you’re not everything you want to be, because you expect yourself to be better, then whipping back around to hatred ad infinitum.

I also got to ask a question about how Dan saw VR affecting the way narratives would be written in TV and film, considering the shift away from locked perspective. He said the nature of everything would likely change. One aspect could be the volume of writing necessary ushering in some vein of procedurally generated content for background voices. Another could be the concept of narrative being thrown out in favour of much more open interpretations. Everyone comes away from a situation with their own view and perhaps in a more interactive environment the content would reflect that.

8.45pm – Todd Barry

Barry was funny as hell. He had this air of affected arrogance and nonchalance that played brilliantly. His crowd work was skewering and scathing. I was in the front row and basically tried to look non-remarkable in order to not get picked on. it sucks, but I felt I could’ve gotten a lot more out of the gig had I not been falling asleep the whole time. I was exhausted and had to quickly gun it out of there to get home and crash. Sorry Todd, it’s wasn’t you, it was me.

Kumail/Harmontown tonight. I may well lose my shit.

At this stage Johnny Five is more alive than I am.

JFL42 day five. We’re at the half way of the festival and my mind has already forsaken sanity for the colourful allure of delirium. Sleep at this point feels like cheating and I’m nothing if not honest. I don’t know if I’m a high functioning destitute or if this is all a dream and I’m chained up in a subterranean lair somewhere freebasing ground ceiling plaster.

Anyway, last night was an excellent night of comedy.

6.45pm – Hasan Minhaj.

I didn’t know Hasan Minhaj all of three weeks ago. I heard him on You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and followed my instincts. He sounded like a really onto it guy, compassionate, insightful and funny. A Daily Show correspondent with Indian heritage, the idea of hearing from a perspective so different to my own seemed enticing. Seeing his one man show, “Homecoming King” was an experience akin to last year’s one man show by Chris Gethard. I’m already a fan of the format, it mixes stand up and theatre and uses its prepared nature to achieve a balance of hilarity and heartfelt sincerity.

Hasan was outstanding. Something I really appreciated was his inclination towards bilingual punchlines. Every once in a while he’d deliver in Urdu (I think. I hope. I’m sorry if I’m ignorantly wrong on this), to gasps and laughs around the room, then once he’d repeat it in English the laughter would echo as the rest of the room got the joke. It never felt token or hacky, it didn’t interrupt the flow, it purely made sense within the scope of the show. Top marks. Let me be clear, he wasn’t funny because he was different, he was funny and he was different. A standing ovation has rarely been so easily deserved.

9pm – Sabrina Jalees.

Opening for Sabrina was Amanda Brooke Perrin, who delivered one of my top three Beethoven bits I’ve ever heard. She killed. Totally and utterly. I’ll add in “completely” for a secondary redundancy. She’s a local, so I’m gonna make a point of catching a full set when I can. Awesome, awesome job.

I saw Sabrina two years back and she was fucking great, so I knew I was in for a gut-buster. Once again, she delivered. A couple of old bits, but tons of new material. It took a little bit to find her footing, but once she did she was on a solid roll. In a moment that can’t be described as anything less than magical, she made a joke about a dude in the front row’s sperm spilling out “millions of little Michaels.”

“Michael is my name.” He replied.

“You’re fucking with me.” She said “I’m gonna need to see your licence.

Handing it over, Sabrina confirmed his full name and the room lost its shit. “You deserve some kind of prize” she stated. She started running around the stage, then sprinted off stage right and emerged with an unopened beer. It didn’t matter what she did from that point onward, she was a magician and we were under her spell.

11pm – Gary Gulman.

You know, I’d never seen Gulman before, but he’s always had an excellent reputation. A clean comic seemed like a welcome reprieve from performers trying to go for gross-out shit. A six foot six gentle giant, his deliver was slow, plodding and very, very clever. He’d start out with these simple premises, easy to latch onto. Then over the course of ten minutes he’d build and build till your mind had an internal conflict of how did he get here//how did I not expect this? From a darkly relatable bit on picking up ice cream from the store, to an amazing extended piece on the contraction of U.S. State initials to two letters, he destroyed the late night crowd without reaching for a single perverse joke. Masterful.

In Conversation with Dan Harmon tonight and I can hardly believe it. At this stage, I don’t know if snorting ceiling plaster is helping or not.

Excessive bootyliciousness is a common obstacle many of us deal with on a daily basis.

Cards on the table, this is straight up PR fluff. However, it’s straight up PR fluff backed by authentic enthusiasm, written by someone with no talent for putting together PR fluff. So take it for what you will.

http://www.liveinlimbo.com/2016/06/05/theatre/jfl42-2016-first-impressions.html

 

You’re cuckold as ice.

Not Safe For Work content warning, etc etc and general disclaiming. If you’re not into porn things then stay clear. I hadn’t planned on doing this entry, but Facebook wouldn’t let me post the clip so I had no other alternative:

Like most clickbaiters and members of the internet generation, I’m given to bouts of hyperbole. There are things in my life that err on the side of amazing, awesome, phenomenal, unreal and unbelievable. In reality, my life is anything but. Sure, great things happen. I get surprised from time to time. Some situations I get myself seem inexplicable, but like everything else are usually the result of causality.

If you’re questioning the validity of my unnecessarily polysyllabic preamble, it’s because I found a porn clip that’s divine.

Yes, I know what the word means. I hear you out there with your squabbles and frittering. Hey Leon the chorus of voices in my head meant to represent this invisible peanut gallery cry you don’t believe in God, so how can you use that word in any conscionable fashion? Because, dear evocation of my increasingly obvious insanity, this clip is so transcendent that it confirms for me the existence of a higher power. It’s awesome, in that it inspires me awe. I’m amazed that it exists. It’s certainly a type of phenomena. It’s unreal because this scenario achieves a level of absurdity that reality can’t reflect. Lastly, I do not believe that a mere mortal had the insight and sublime humour to create something of this magnitude. In short, some kind of deity certainly exists, because unless I’m hallucinating, this clip exists. I can affirm with certainty that it wouldn’t without celestial intervention.

You may think you’re watching porn, but I can assure you that you aren’t. There is no humanly possible way that someone could stay aroused while viewing this clip. The narrative subverts the conventions of the medium in such a way that the medium is invalidated. It’s known that flexing and forcing other muscles to work is a quick way to bring down an erection. This scene should be forcing you to laugh so hard that your abs will constrict, ruining any hardon that’d been accrued.

The premise to the clip is that this lady’s husband bought a hoverboard from some dude, but couldn’t afford to pay for it. They come back to the apartment to see if she can pay for it, or work out some kind of deal. If this doesn’t seem all that amusing, it’s because you’re not picturing her husband gleefully gliding around the apartment while they fuck. His whimsy is all encompassing. While he’s meant to be in a submissive position, at no point does he give up status. How could he? It’s impossible to not focus on him spinning in circles while he jerks off another dude. The love he has for his wife is considerably less convincing than his lust for this new toy. He just wants to play with it and is willing to do anything in order to satisfy that desire. Of course she gets him to suck this guy off, but in the process his attention is laser focused at the vacant hoverboard offscreen. She’s moaning with this dealer’s member inside of her and he’s too concerned with practicing his spins (while naked except for a helmet). The dialogue is stilted and the delivery is all the actors can manage without breaking down into hysterics. The Harmontown podcast sent me here and I’m so glad to have lived a life with knowledge of this clip’s existence. Are you ready?

Behold: The most sacred and hilarious cuckold porn I’ve ever witnessed.

Put down the Morrissey and nobody gets hurt.

My dad has a word that says it best: “oongabloosm”. It’s a feeling that takes its cue from “meh” and takes another step. A kind of ennui with an extra exhaustion tacked on. Things out of your grasp prodding you deeply enough that they can twist the knife a little. It’s like exhaling while grunting, the weakest form of “fuck you” you can give to the world around, to let it know it’s affected you and you’re not prepared to do anything about it.

I feel “oongabloosm”.

Thing is, I shouldn’t. By all accounts, I should be walking with head held high. My day has been filled with free food, always a nice feature of a rompingly joyous workday. A co-worker had brought Thunder Bay Persians in for us all, complete with spreadable icing. Then another co-worker gave me a bunch of Northern Hemisphere Weet-Bix substitutes. Mushed up with milk they had the textures of memory. Great, gimme that Weet-Bix! Next up the media team laid out the leftovers of their lunch meeting: Southern roasted chicken, breaded tenders, dressed salad, spicy mac and cheese. Absurd, right? To add to all this I’m catching up with My Favourite Ex tonight, we’re seeing Guillermo del Toro’s new flick Crimson Peak in the VIP cinema to celebrate her new job, then I get to snuggle with my lovely girlfriend. Everything’s coming up Milhouse, right?

Still, it’s fucking oongabloosm all over. I’ve been on the internet and it’s turds all the way down. Do you ever get to a point where things are making you feel shit, so instead of taking evasive measures you spread your arms like Nic Cage in City of Angels, rotate and let it all rain down on you as Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris plays in the background?

Dan Harmon was drunk on a plane last night and delivered a series of unnecessary and cruel tweets (maybe 29 or so) with no real justification. I wish I could say the behaviour surprised me, but I value honesty here. It sucked. It’s shitty to see someone you look up to in many ways acting like a shitty bully without remorse. There’s no excuse that validates this scenario, the guy was a fan, he didn’t have a strong grip of English and his comments were hugely benign. I love Dan Harmon’s work, I have a huge respect for his wit and intelligence and often for his scope and perspective. None of this came into play seeing him piling his own shit onto an internet stranger. It was sad to watch and bummed me out how unexpected it wasn’t.

Another big factor is the resurgence of all this Tony Veitch bullshit. For anyone who isn’t a New Zealander, Tony Veitch is (I can’t believe I’m still using the present tense here) a New Zealand sports broadcaster who, 6 years ago, came under fire for viciously beating his ex-wife, breaking her back and trying to pay for her silence. “New Zealand’s Chris Brown” is the closest TL;DR we have here. Because this world has the capacity to be a pile of shit, he somehow got his job back at Radio Sport. Recently he posted a dumb comment and social media grilled him for it in the context of his past crimes. Then he came back and posted a diatribe whining about his own victimhood and overcoming a “hideous relationship” to once again triumph. For the most part there’s been widespread condemnation about what a heap of human detritus he is, but somehow that fails to be universal. In violation of decent humanity, a number of people I’m ashamed to share a Y chromosome with offered messages of support to poor toxic masculinity poster child Tony Veitch. Then this article was posted on the popular NZ news site Stuff.co.nz. I’m pretty sure that someone forfeits their right to being treated with basic human decency when they prove they’re incapable of it themselves. I can’t even write about this any more. If you’re interested in hearing a thorough account of this monster, Hadassah Grace wrote an excellent piece on it.

Even writing about it makes me fucking furious. Is that a step up from oongabloosm?