By: Stuart Nulman
The 33rd edition of the Just For Laughs festival was officially launched last Wednesday night (July 8) at Club Soda, as Ethnic Show host Alonzo Bodden boisterously proclaimed “anyone here who is politically correct better leave now.”
I have never been disappointed with the Ethnic Show over the past five years, and this year’s show continues the trend, with a strong line-up of multicultural comedy. Bodden was in fine form as its host, as he offered his opinions on such topics as why Canadians are cool, college football, race relations and gay marriage. Frank Spadone told of his life growing up Italian in Canada, from the long dramatic responses that he got from his parents, to hyper-sensitive pregnant women. Dan Naturman explained what makes an uncle a decent uncle. Gina Yashere, in her smoky, Nigerian accented voice, told why the British are “ninja racists” and why China is a culture of coughing and spitting. Ahmed Ahmed got laughs from the audience by reassuring them that he is not a terrorist, and relating how the story of Moses and the burning bush had to do with marijuana. Ronny Chieng got the audience going with his stream-of-conscience set, in which he tackled such topics as no frills budget airlines, to “smuggling” barbecued pork across airport security checkpoints.
But perhaps the loudest ovation at the show was given to Moroccan-born Quebecois comedian RachidBadouri, who was making his English-language Just For Laughs debut at the Ethnic Show. Using different voices, visual gestures and acting out different parts in his set, Badouri tackled such topics as the mispronunciation of his first name, how he always ended up as Aladdin when he played super heroes with his school friends, and how his father invented his own English words, much to the delight of the packed crowd at Club Soda. Badouri’s style of stand-up comedy is almost reminiscent of the late Richard Jeni during the peak of his career 25 years ago. I hope to hear (and see) more of RachidBadouri in future Just For Laughs shows and wish him luck as he conquers the English language comedy world.
And if you enjoyed the Ethnic Show, which runs at Club Soda through July 19, four of its performers – Gina Yashere, Ahmed Ahmed, Ronny Chieng and Alonzo Bodden – will be performing their own solo shows as part of the Off-JFL @ Zoofest series on July 20 and 21.