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JFL 2014: Best of my comedy fest

It was easy to pick a winner from the Just for Laughs shows I saw last week. Only one comic made me cry and seriously (like medically seriously) double over in the sheer pain of laughter: James Adomian. He brought his manic and maniacal energy to Saturday night’s Adomia’n Friends show at MainLine Theatre. His impersonations…

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Review: Kumail Nanjiani & Friends at Underworld

I remember seeing Kumail Nanjiani open for Aziz Ansari at Théâtre Sainte Catherine in 2009, back when you could still find a few empty seats at an Aziz Ansari show in a 100-person venue. Energetic and self-effacing, Nanjiani was a perfect foil to Ansari’s laid-back, ironic style. He had the audience…

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Review: Talk of the Fest: Broad City

I feel for Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. Their relentlessly upbeat, smart and goofy vibe was seriously dampened by the bizarre programming of last night’s 10 pm show/TV taping of Talk of the Fest at Club Soda. Their unfortunately-short bits between acts offered welcome glimpses of their bouncy chemistry…

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Review: Todd Barry’s Crowd Work

I wouldn’t usually put the words “Todd Barry” and “people person” in the same sentence. But last night, as the deadpan comedian took to the stage to put his improv skills to the test, something clicked. Read my full review of the show at montrealgazette.com Tweet This Post

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Just for Laughs 2014: Top 5 picks

1. Broad City: Talk of the Fest (July 22, 7 and 10 p.m., Club Soda, $39.65 to $54.15). Everyone’s favourite BFFs (and New Yorkers) Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer bring their sharp, shameless slacker comedy to Talk of the Fest as hosts. They’re so giddily reckless and off-the-wall on their breakout Amy Poehler-executive-produced…

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Review: Patton Oswalt at Metropolis

I’d never seen Patton Oswalt live and before his one-night-only solo show at Metropolis, I had a slightly insecure feeling. Kind of like when you force yourself to go to a party where you know everyone will be way too cool for school. Now, Oswalt’s comedy albums are edgy, with…

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Amy Schumer: The raunchy spawn of Radner, Ball and Burnett

As a girl growing up in Long Island, N.Y., Amy Schumer was obsessed with Gilda Radner, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. “I was hungry for comedy, especially women in comedy,” Schumer says. “That’s not a ‘political choice’ when you’re 10.” At the end of her recent Comedy Central special, Schumer…

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Hannibal Buress: More jokes, more jaywalking

When he came to Montreal last year, Hannibal Buress played five solid nights at Just for Laughs, killed Snoop Dogg’s Ain’t No Fun at Hip-Hop Karaoke and got a jaywalking ticket. The three-police-officer intervention resulted in a $37 fine and a priceless bit in his stand-up routine. After being stopped for…

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Rob Delaney: Twitter’s Funniest Person

During his three years on Twitter, comedian Rob Delaney has amassed 488,051 followers – and he’s probably lost quite a few more due to his sharp, raunchy sense of humour. Delaney, who had been performing improv and stand-up in relative obscurity for about six years before his social media profile…

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Facebook’s frictionless sharing may not be so frictionless

From my Facebook news feed (not their real names): Christine Y. is reading “Sex and the over-60s.” Peter J. is reading “Why are smart people usually ugly?” Ali K. is reading “Pakistan: Bombs, spies and wild parties.” It’s called frictionless sharing. And it instantly notifies your friends about all of…

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My First Big Lie: I knew Baby didn’t deserve the $5

I went to a Catholic elementary school. And in third grade, when everyone was preparing for their first communion, my parents and their friends with daughters in my class, decided to pay for an Islamic studies teacher to keep us occupied during religion period. Baby, as she was nicknamed, was…

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YouTube confessions: Kitten nightmares and industrial polka

At first, I thought it was spam. The email was from my husband’s account, but the subject line was “Kitten nightmare.” I cautiously opened it and found a link to a YouTube video. The message read: “I just watched this 10 times in a row.” So, I clicked on the…

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Miranda July: Catching those who fall outside the Internet

Suffering from writer’s block a few years ago, while working on the screenplay for her next movie, Miranda July turned to the PennySaver classifieds flyer for distraction. She quickly found herself drawn to the stories that lay between its pages. In our age of eBay and Craigslist, July wanted to…

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Facebook takes its cues from reality TV

The new Facebook Timeline transforms your profile into a scrapbook of your life’s milestones. It intuitively strings together the dates you added your friends, your siblings’ birthdays, your vacation adventures and even, if you choose, the dates your loved ones passed away, into a seamless, scrollable experience. It’s not unlike…

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Emoticons: When words are not enough

I am sad to report that after years of resistance, I have succumbed to the lure of the emoticon. : ( To be clear, I’m not referring to the animated yellow blinking-andwinking smiley faces with their wagging pink tongues but to the simple sideways punctuation that passes for feeling. With…

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Google Plus looks familiar … too familiar

Last month, like millions of other people, I joined Google+, the new social network started by the search engine giant. Driven by your Google profile, the network requires members to use their real names and connect to friends, family, acquaintances and experts via a system of “circles,” the building blocks…

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Tig Notaro is the ‘quickest, slowest’ comedian

Known for her improvised, bone-dry wit, Tig Notaro says her friends call her “the slowest, quickest person or the quickest, slowest comedian or one of those things.” In comedy circles, perhaps the most legendary example of Notaro’s laconic storytelling style is her Taylor Dayne story. It involves a series of…

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John Mulaney loves Law & Order. Loooves it

Comedian John Mulaney loves Law & Order. No – he really loves Law & Order. And in the last year and a half, thanks to Hulu, he has been watching several episodes a day of the Special Victims Unit spinoff. “Ice-T is really the draw,” Mulaney says from his office at…

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Maria Bamford always has company

When I call comedian Maria Bamford at our prearranged interview time, she picks up the phone on the second ring and introduces herself: “Hi. It’s Maria.” “I figured it was you,” she says. “So I acted surprised.” It sounds like she’s smiling. Bamford then tells me she’s done her homework….

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Comedy worth subscribing to

Six years after British comedian Ricky Gervais first had everyone in hysterics with his groundbreaking podcast, featuring the dry wit of Stephen Merchant and the clueless genius of Karl Pilkington, there are now enough comedy podcasts to keep your ears filled for days with rambling conversations, goofy impressions and unexpected…

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Identity Crisis: Fake bloggers & sockpuppets

Within the world of social media, I try to keep my political views to myself. This is partly because I’m a journalist, but it also has to do with the casual nature of civic participation on Facebook and Twitter. It’s pretty easy to click a ‘Like’ icon, to sign a…

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A taste of Freedom

So this is what freedom feels like: an itchy mouse finger and an uncanny sense of calm. In the past year, I have found myself stuck in an endless and repetitive cycle of checking my Twitter feeds, my Facebook updates, my Gmail inbox and my work email account – in…

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Envy, thy name is FOMO

I follow more than 800 people on Twitter, and most of them I’ll never meet in person. They’re writers, filmmakers, comedians, musicians, journalists and at any given time, a group of them are doing something fabulous. Whether they’re tweeting about which movie star they’re sitting next to at the #nerdprom…

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When Google leads you astray

This month, Google introduced a new feature for its popular web browser, Chrome. It allows you to filter your searches by blocking certain websites from your results. So if you aren’t a big fan of, say, Don Cherry, you can choose to exclude cbc.ca from a Google search on, say,…

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The perils of being popular

With its $50-billion valuation and its name on the lips of everyone from President Obama to your grandmother, it’s easy to see why the tech world is always on the lookout for the next Facebook. When a new social media site launches, the expectations are astronomical: Will it be a game-changer?…