Lilly Singh Gala Place Des Arts, Montreal QC, July 30
Published Jul 31, 2017Lilly Singh paradoxically presents herself as both younger and older than she actually is. At her Just For Laughs gala, she trash-talked traditions and ran around the stage rapping like a tween idol, but she did it all while wearing a power suit that made sure the audience wouldn't forget that she's a multi-millionaire entrepreneur. With the help of some amazing young observational comics from the U.S. and Canada, this gala filled the 3,000-seat theatre with laughs, music, and new media that justified the size of the space instead of emphasizing the immense distance between the performers and most of the audience.
Given that Singh is famous for her internet presence, it was no surprise that Just For Laughs booked YouTube stars Mamrie Hart and Grace Helbig. Sadly, they were the least entertaining part of the night. Their dialogue about how they wanted Canadian husbands but didn't want to get married was self-contradicting and unfunny. Its feminist content complemented Singh's joke about how women should empower each other instead of giving out slyly patronizing compliments like "you're adorable," but it was delivered so plainly that Helbig and Hart seemed more like Oscar hosts than comedians.
American comedians Julian McCollough and Tony Rock weren't that outstanding either. Aside from Rock's joke about the difference between how white and black kids play monopoly, both of their sets were average and a bit forgettable.
Fortunately, the rest of the lineup on this show was great. Matt O'Brien got solid laughs by sharing the experiences he's had since he moved from Toronto to L.A., then Dave Merheje also did Canada proud with his joke about his friend getting strangely hyped about salads on Instagram and using too many fire emojis.
Having said that, Vladimir Caamaño and Jermaine Fowler were the best comedians of the night. Caamaño's observation about how men always seem to need to clear congestion from their throat before they hit on a girl was brilliantly subtle, while his joke about working out just so he doesn't feel weak and tired during sex was contrastingly frank and equally funny. Fowler then found humour in settling down and family. His story about arguing with his pregnant girlfriend about whether shrimp are fish was goofily funny, plus his anecdotes about growing up with a criminal twin brother and a younger sibling with an enlarged tongue were priceless.