Jerry Seinfeld – Gad Elmaleh Just For Laughs … and more
Jerry Seinfeld – Gad Elmaleh Just For Laughs – I first saw Jerry Seinfeld perform live on stage in 1989, during a taping for that year’s Just For Laughs gala that was to be aired later on HBO. From my vantage point in the HBO technical truck (where I was assigned by the cable network to monitor the audio and video feeds), Seinfeld – who at the time just shot the pilot that was later to become “Seinfeld” – took to the St. Denis Theatre stage as the gala’s opening act, and won the audience over with his simple, yet pointedly funny observations of everyday, mundane things like women and cheques, and Tide detergent.
Now fast forward 28 years to July of 2017. I am about to catch Jerry Seinfeld perform live once again. This time, he has become a comedy icon thanks to the mega success of “Seinfeld”, and has kept himself fresh by returning to his stand-up roots. This time, he is performing in a much larger venue (the Bell Centre), and is sharing the stage with a comedian whom he regards not only a good friend, but in comedy terms, an equal.
That’s how the stage was set when I witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime stand-up event of the double bill of Jerry Seinfeld and
on July 26. This polished comedy showcase began as the two arrived onstage together, much to the enthusiastic ovation of the full house crowd. After some casual repartee, Jerry and Gad got into the meat of the show by deciding an important matter: who was the perform first.
Seinfeld chose to be the opener, and watching him perform his brand of stand-up comedy was indeed a treat to see. In fact, whether he tackled such topics as people’s need to go out, 5-hour energy drinks, Las Vegas buffets, Pop Tarts, golf and the joys of toilet stalls, I found Seinfeld to be on his game just like he was when I first saw him perform way back in ’89. His unique way of taking simple ideas, and twisting them around to reach his version of a logical conclusion, was typical Seinfeld, and his set lived up to everyone’s expectations.
Watching Gad Elmaleh perform was almost like witnessing a comedy prodigal son returning home. Born in Morocco, Elmaleh lived in Paris and Montreal (he even attended CEGEP St. Laurent) as he worked his way up to become a comedy superstar to millions of French-speaking fans.
His set, which was done in his near flawless English, was a great indicator that Elmaleh will indeed make great strides in the English language comedy scene. He is like Seinfeld with a European flavor to him, and won over the crowd with his takes on life in Paris, Indian cabbie, Uber, living in his current home in New York City, date nights with his wife, and why baseball is boring. And he complemented his set with his impressions and his rubbery, expressive face, that helped Elmaleh win over new converts, towards his quest to breaking into the English comedy world.
It’s not everyday that you see two comedy giants share the stage the way Jerry Seinfled and Gad Elmaleh did, and I urge comedy fans to take advantage of this rarity whenever it is offered to them.
That same night, I saw two other comics – who are also close friends – share the same stage in what was probably one of the most gut-busting nights of comedy I have experienced in a long time. Jeff Ross – the Roastmaster General himself – and Dave Attell teamed up for “Bumping Mics” at the L’Astral. It was 90 minutes of no-holds-barred, free form comedy, as Ross and Attell engaged each other with plenty of off-the-cuff repartee, insults, sarcastic comments and snide remarks, to see how they can respond to each cutting comment. The result: never ending raucous laughter from the audience, whether they were dissecting the festival program brochure, Canada, or take members of the audience and subject them to some of Ross’ brand of roasting. And the audience on opening night was treated to a surprise opening set from writer/director Judd Apatow, and a cameo appearance from the balcony by Jim Carrey. “Bumping Mics” is not to be missed, and plays at L’Astral until July 28.
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Comedian Mark Forward’s solo show “Mark Forward Wins All the Awards” at the Monument National was a little bit out of left field, but he held the audience’s attention with his spurts of energy, as he decided to spend the entire show giving his take on death. Although it may have sounded morbid at the offset, Forward succeeded in not getting the audience feeling depressed; in fact, his interpretation of what really happened with the dish and spoon of nursery rhyme fame had the crowd in hysterics (and two audience members in convulsions). This show runs until July 29.
Elon Gold’s solo show “Pro-Semite” at the Maison Theatre readily proved why Gold is the “go-to Jew” for Jewish communities across North America. He dissected the world of the Jewish people in Israel and North America to an audience made up mostly of his fellow Hebrews from Montreal, who lapped up every observation from why the word “schlep” is the most Jewish words non-Jews use, to their obsession with food, to why they like to leave movies or shows early. As well, there were a couple of serious moments, as he related the anti-Semitic incident that he and his family endured several years ago in L.A., as they were heading home from a friend’s home following a Shabbat dinner, and his take on the State of Israel today. He also entertained the crowd with his sharp skills as an impressionist (his Israeli accent is dead-on); and he ended the show with a bit of audience participation, as Gold and a selected member of the audience performed his Hebrew version of Abbott & Costello’s iconic “Who’s On First?” routine (Bud and Lou would be busting if they heard it, believe me!).
Ryan Hamilton’s solo show “Edgy, Boundary Pushing Comedian”, which plays at the Salle Claude Leveille of Place des Arts until July 29), proves that you can have no profanity or edgy humour in your comedy set, and still pull off an entertaining show. With his disarming style and aw-shucks delivery, Hamilton’s brief journey into edgy comedy was actually his take on hot air ballooning (which he refers to as “a wicker basket attached to a flame thrower), and is quickly becoming his trademark routine. Chalk up another successful show for one of the good guys of comedy.
Feature image: Gad Elmaleh and Jerry Seinfeld Photo: Just For Laughs/ Susan Moss Photography