There it is, publishing date of July 29, perfect manifestation of the biggest downside of Just For Laughs: The reacclimation. It’s not merely the detoxing, or the catching-up on sleep, or the returned attention to unanswered e-mails and voicemails and general treadmill of real-life responsibilities. It’s the epic emotional crash from the Festival high that hits hardest.
Of course folks on the 5:30 Sunday flight to New York had it even worse, when inclement weather forced Godfrey, Christian Finnegan, Horatio Sanz, Kevin Brennan and several other comics to board a plane at Trudeau, fly home, circle the city, and head back from whence they had just come for a final night in Montreal. Add the lingering after-effects of the final evening in the Hyatt Bar—around 4 a.m., lingering revelers discovered that taps hadn’t been turned off at last call a few hours back, thus an impromptu kegger raged until roughly 5:30 a.m.—and a good chunk of talent and industry was looking at a tough 24 hours.
But overall the close of the annual equivalent to Comedy Summer Camp left a slightly unexpected impression. The June debut of Just For Laughs Chicago raised questions about the effect its timing and physical proximity would have on Montreal, and there were several familiar Festival faces that opted to remain stateside for their one yearly comedy gorging. In terms of talent, multiple sources admitted that there weren’t as many boldface names as in years past. The overall scope of the Festival, however, unquestionably exploded.
Official stats put numbers at 718 artists in 306 shows in two dozen venues, not counting outdoor and street-fair performances. The Film Festival arm’s debut of Funny People was a massive draw, as was the second incarnation of the simultaneous three-day Comedy Conference. And that’s exactly where things got overwhelming. Used to be there was time aplenty for afternoon lounging, a mad stampede of shows, then nightly socializing. With panels and events from 10 a.m. to at least 5 p.m., things got a lot tougher. Throw in the onslaught of newly participating Zoofest shows (at peak, about two dozen a night), and things got darn near impossible. At least JFL remained semi-discriminate enough to put their stamp on only select Zoofest shows (some of the off-program stuff I wandered into was absolute bottom-barrel crap). Who and what will return next year? Remains to be seen, come July 15-25, 2010.