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Montreal Comedy Festival: Britcom Gala

I was incredibly excited for this show, featuring host John Cleese, one of my comedy idols and,
if you want to know a weird secret, one of my biggest childhood crushes. Even then, I liked 'em dorky.

Everything inside the Theatre Saint Denis was awash in this weird neon glow; lime green and Jolly Rancher red lights flashing and swirling everywhere, like a Christmas-themed laser show. It was kind of mesmerizing. Now I know what it must be like to be a cat, chasing a laser pointer.

Lights down! A man takes the stage! Is it John Cleese?! No. It's a Just For Laughs higher up, apologizing profusely, because...John Cleese is sick?! Too sick to perform?! They'll make up for it with a free show on Sunday and a special last-minute guest host?

Ha ha, John Cleese. Very funny. Now come out here in a crazy costume and pretend that you're not John Cleese, just so the sense of panic and disappointment that this auditorium filled with people is experiencing will be alleviated, will be, in hindsight, hilarious.

Not the case.

John Cleese is, in fact, ill, and couldn't host the show. No tricks, no fakeouts. No John Cleese. I hope he's ok.

But the surprise last-minute fill in host? Lewis Black. Who is my favorite. So, as far as I'm concerned, WIN!

The audience was clearly disappointed, not necessarily in Lewis Black, but in his undeniable not-John-Cleese-ness. But he handled it well, with his typical blustery, faux-flustered grace. Gained extra points by roasting the U.S., as he loves so much to do. It must be somewhat liberating to mock your country in front of an international audience, because nobody will get offended -- the rest of the world thinks we're douches, too.

The show was, if you haven't figured it out, entirely comprised of British comedians. Which, naturally, has the potential for aged-Cheddar-like dryness. Cheddar is an English cheese, so it was the obvious choice for that terrible cheese simile. You're welcome.

Highlights from the show? Gina Yashere, of Last Comic Standing:

The cavalier and pizzicato-plucky sketch comedy troupe Idiots of Ants:


And Ross Noble, who defies all adjectives. The man bobs and weaves and climbs and stammers and doesn't ever seem to stop to take a breath. It's dizzying. It's magical. I'll be watching a full hour of him tomorrow night (I can't even imagine.) so more on him to come.



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