Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s no surprise that controversy surrounding the #Metoo movement, ‘post-truth’, and a number of other challenging social and politicized issues have made their way to the fore in comedy not just on stage at comedy clubs but online through forums, social networks, and other online platforms. Thanks to social networks like Twitter and Reddit – fans, trolls, and anyone with access to the internet is able to enter into public discussions with comedians about their jokes and personal opinions in a curiously entertaining way that has reshaped what may have been only possible to hecklers in the past. Tweets gone sideways are breaking careers, shaping new ones, and giving anyone keen on participating in these types of debates, an opportunity to be heard.
Just For Laughs Festival is in Vancouver and instead of giving readers the same old preview of what to expect, we thought we’d pose a question directly to some of the comedians performing at the festival in order to get the ball rolling and tackle the age-old question of context within comedy. So here goes, we’ll start off with our question and then you can listen to the responses we collected in all their raw and unedited glory from a few of this year’s performers:
“How does context shape comedy and what should people keep in mind when it comes to controversial jokes?”
DeAnne Smith, a Canadian Comedy Award winner, has performed at Just for Laughs, JFL42, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the Iceland Comedy Festival to name a few. She’s also been on TV all over the darn world, including appearances on Last Comic Standing and The Late Late Show in the U.S., as well as comedy shows in Canada, Australia and the UK. Her video Straight Men, Step Your Game Up has over 46 million views. Her Netflix half-hour comedy special, Gentleman Elf, debuted January 2019. She is currently developing a sitcom for CBC.
Andy Kindler currently recurs on Fox’s hit animation, Bob’s Burgers and Comedy Central’s Tosh. O. He was a series judge on the seventh season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, the star of two half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials and was a frequent guest and correspondent on The Late Show with David Letterman with over 40 appearances. He recurred on Everybody Loves Raymond, Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place, and IFC’s Maron. Other noteworthy credits include the HBO Young Comedians Special, Conan, The Daily Show, Dr. Katz Professional Therapist, Home Movies and The Larry Sanders Show. Andy is the host of Season 4 and 5 of Hulu’s standup series, Coming to the Stage. Every year Andy delivers his infamous State of the Industry Address each year at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Todd Glass started his comedic career at the age of 16 and has since been seen on multiple tours, comedy specials, and late night shows. He has appeared on Sarah Silverman – I Love You America, The Daily Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Tosh.O, Conan O’Brian, and Jimmy Kimmel a total of 13 times. Additionally, Glass has toured with the likes of David Cross, David Spade, Daniel Tosh, Jim Gaffigan, and Sarah Silverman. Currently, you can catch Glass on Netflix with his 2018 special.
The first comedian signed to 604 Records and a finalist in 2016 SiriusXM’s Top Comic, Kevin Banner has quickly established himself as a rising talent in Canadian comedy, performing with such notable comedians as Colin Quinn, Bill Burr and Norm MacDonald.
Widely considered to be one of our country’s fastest rising stars, Darcy has worked alongside many comedian greats, including Harland Williams, Kids in the Hall, Craig Robinson, Mike Smith, Debra DiGiovanni and Matthew Perry. Pegged by the Montreal Gazette as one of their favourites at the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, Darcy was nominated for a 2010 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Televised Performance. Darcy went on to film his first national stand up special for CTV & the Comedy Network which originally aired in June 2010. His edgy but personable approach has won him appearances at the Global Comedy Festival, Winnipeg Comedy Festival, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and regular appearances on CBC Radio’s ‘The Debaters.’