When Vancouver’s NorthWest Comedy Fest announced that it had teamed up with the prestigious Just for Laughs festival back in October, West Coast comedy nerds felt a twinge of anticipatory excitement. Today, the newly created JFL NorthWest has announced an impressive lineup for its inaugural shindig, running February 18 to 27 at venues throughout the Lower Mainland.
The biggest name on the bill is the new host of The Daily Show, South African standup Trevor Noah, who headlines the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 19. Considered the most successful comedian in all of Africa, Noah exploded onto the North American market with his appearance at the 2013 Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. This will be his first appearance in Vancouver.
There are other newbies to the area too, including Hasan Minhaj, who started as a correspondent on The Daily Show at the same time as Noah. Minhaj, also a standup comic, is still filing for the program, now under his new boss. He plays the Rio Theatre on February 20.
That same night, YouTube sensation Miranda Sings brings her quirky lipshtick [sic] to the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts. And Bert Kreischer, author of Life of the Party: Stories of a Perpetual Man-Child and host of the travel show Trip Flip, plays the Rio Theatre on February 21.
Returning to the city will be the softening bluntness of Wanda Sykes (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 24), the raving-mad Lewis Black (Hard Rock Casino, February 28), and the hilariously understated Todd Barry, who will perform three different shows over three nights—his regular standup, his crowd-work show, and his podcast (Yuk Yuk’s, February 25 to 27).
Also appearing will be the eternally miserable Jeremy Hotz (Vogue Theatre, February 26), matter-of-fact storyteller Kyle Kinane (Biltmore Cabaret, February 26), musical deadpan absurdist Nick Thune (Biltmore Cabaret, February 20), huggable sitcom star Ron Funches (Biltmore Cabaret, February 24), and a couple of alternative politicos, Janeane Garofalo (Rio Theatre, February 23 and 24) and Hari Kondabolu (Biltmore Cabaret, February 25).
As well, one of the longest-running and most popular offerings from Montreal will be making its way west—The Nasty Show, featuring the always politically incorrect Bobby Slayton as host. The "Pitbull of Comedy" will introduce Kurt Metzger, Big Jay Oakerson, Tony Hinchcliffe, and Vancouver’s Kathleen McGee (Rio Theatre, February 23 to 27).
Other high-profile local acts will also be featured prominently. Comedy magician Wes Barker, who recently got the better of Penn & Teller on their TV show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, will be fooling us at the Vogue Theatre on February 19. And tricksters of another sort, Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring, will be offering us a glimpse behind the curtain of their award-winning radio show with This Is That Live, at the Vogue Theatre on February 27.
And regular Vancouver shows will be included in the festivities, such as Instagraham, with Graham Clark, Kyle Bottom’s Comedy Bucket, Alicia Tobin’s Come Draw With Me, and more.
Vancouver is the fourth festival location for the Just for Laughs Group, joining Toronto, Sydney, and the flagship Montreal festival.