I’ve stayed in Montreal for a couple of days more to enjoy the city when it is sans comedy festival. So I actually got to read a Canadian paper’s review of the Judd Apatow stand-up event “Apatow for Destruction”, which took place the evening after he received the Comedy Person of the Year award. Thought the review expresses some love from Andy Kindler, it’s still reads to me like a reporter just hatin’ on Apatow for being successful.
Here’s my take. Apatow did seem pretty rusty to me, but I sort of expected that. But if you aren’t a comedy nerd, you’re not going to really care. You’re going to just want a good show. The best bit of his set involved how he prizes funny so much that his daughter’s taken up performing ventriloquism with her genitalia. It’s also, sadly, pretty similar to a Louis C.K. bit about his own daughter and how she plays with her vagina. No stealing here I’m sure, but it shows that it’s a perhaps more relatable experience than you’d ever think (or want to think). A bit that I hadn’t before about his other daughter unwitting emblazoning her myspace page with marijuana leaves was much better.
Apatow’s stand-up instincts were trumped by his dad experience when he dealt with some fans yelling things like “Superbadass” prior to Seth Rogen’s set. I was a little surprised he wasn’t cutitng them down, but rather asking them to “quiet down to listen to what this man has to say.” It’s the words of someone whose most recent experience with screaming is with children rather than drunks.
I’m always thrilled to see a more alt-y performer like Charlyne Yi do well in front of a big crowd, so it was great to see her pull some silly magic involving a “volunteer” helping her complete 2/3rds of a levitation trick - that last chair is always the doozy - and tell a bizarre grotesque story about a man, his girlfriend and her detached eyeballs. Plus, Yi can deliver a good gag like “God brought you all here. So take advantage of the opportunity to convert.” A few songs were perhaps a little off-track, but it was a gutsy way of starting the show - a great attempt at broadening the definition of comedy.
Million Dollar Strong followed, performing “What’s It Gonna Be” which just killed like it always should. Yishoto (Dr. Ken) was in his grey unitard but Mike O’Connell delivered his screaming plea in only a pair of small red briefs and an unbuttoned cardigan sweater, showing the ladies exactly what they’d get later. He apologized for performing without boner or semi-boner.
Considering Seth will be one of the stars in Apatow’s new movie about stand-up comedians, I was pretty curious to see where Seth Rogen was a performer. On stage, Rogen definitely lives up to his namesake in Superbad (which was played by Jonah Hill), with material that’s equally sex obsessed - both straight and gay.
After detailing the disappointment of Montreal’s full contact strip clubs, Rogen launched into a routine about how Ian McKellan’s sex life must have improved since X-Men, speculating the age of the balls McKellan could put in his mouth dropped at the same time as his character Magneto dropped the police cars in the film. A short bit about how all porn films must be untitled during casting was pretty great but Rogen finished with a bit about being able to attrack girls with testicle cleavage, an observation that I feel has been beaten into the ground by a couple of comics - the one I could think of off-hand was Greg Giraldo.
A favorite was Craig Robinson who leisurely flowed from one song to another, occasionally weaving the lyric “take your panties off” in (he believes it should be in every song, include Chruch hymns). Robinson has a great sense of surprise, unexpectedly flashing outrage that an audience will fail to stomp their feet for the second verse of “if you’re happy and you know it..” and then later molding that tune right into a Barry White melody. The full accompaniment by a band rather than Robinson’s usual solo keyboard work only added to the jokes.
Judd came out to sing a song with Robinson. but it took some doing. He turned down a classic from the rapper Biggie Smalls, asserting “that’s not a real song” and maintaining that even after the audiences sang a few bars. (“You worked that out with them.”) No Michael Jackson because he fucks kids. The Holocaust made “hava neglia” a no. Finally, he sang Blood Sweat and Tears “Spinning Wheel.” Conclude what you will.
Russell Brand finished the night, and as he was a hot ticket at the fest, this was my only chance to see him. Brand dwelled quite a bit on sex, but first expressed his concerns that he only helped people with the expectation of getting something back, that he used homeless people as “scabby wishing wells” as well as his own knowledge his mind is against him in situations like meeting the Queen.
His sex material touched upon clitoral stimulation, gagging during oral sex and anal sex etiquette. My favorite was a digression of how people think he’s gay just because “I dress nice and have a lovely haircut and women trust me and then… [punctuating with hip thrusts] BANG! Pregnant! BANG! Pregnant!” After a warning about the dangers of “nut brush” during a threesome, the young crowd was let loose, probably a little bit the wiser for an evening on Montreal’s sex shop saturated Rue de St. Catherine.