Before the gig, I met up with the lovely Heather of Halifax, my fabulous nerdy online friend. After chatting about the junk shop and our journeys to Montreal, we landed prime seats in the second row centre (in the first row you would look directly up the comedians' noses and get a neck ache).
The show began with a DJ that looked oddly like Eminem, and out came Adam Hills, who was one of the main reasons I bought tickets for the show. It was unbelievably weird to see him in 3 dimensions.
He chatted with the audience about how polite the Canadians are, exchange rates, and nationalities. He asked what nationalities were in the audience, and we had quite a range. There was a Brazilian called Sergio, an elderly Scottish couple in the 4th row, a quiet German guy, and an Aussie called Merv, but they were nothing compared to these next guys. When Adam Hills asked doubtingly "Are there any Welsh people here?", two big men at the back patriotically shouted "YES!!!" with fury from the deepest part of their soul. They had a sense of national pride that I've never seen from anyone from the British Isles, let alone the self- hating Welsh. The only people who think they live somewhere worse than Welsh people are people who live in Swindon, for goodness sake!
He also talked about National Anthems and how you can sing the Canadian National Anthem to Bryan Adams's "Summer of '69", American names (Hope, Charity, Honour etc.). Amazing beginning to a stellar show. He told the audience that these were some of the best comics from around the world, but they were so humble that they just wanted things like "He's pretty good... please welcome ______!", so Adam wrote them proper introductions like "He won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he's had numerous successful tours around UK, he's guest-hosted Never Mind The Buzzcocks, and he's had his own TV series! Please give a big round of applause for ________!!!!" . And with that sort of intro, out came Tom Gleeson.
He did a small but terrifyingly memorable bit about sex. He talked about how his wife allows him to "let the bus drive, but the bus has to withdraw when it reached the terminal". And he said it was like a button he was pushing going "in, in, in, in, in, in, in.... ??? in, in, in, in..". Graphic & cringeworthy, but funny. He also talked about the insignificance of the phrase "trying to have a baby". "So what? Loads of people try to have babies! I tried to have a baby in the bedroom yesterday too.".
Then came the slightly less sexual Russell Kane, with a new streak of blonde in his dark brown hair like a cowlick up the front of his head.
There were a few things I'd forgotten about Russell Kane. Firstly, he twirls and kneels more than I remembered. Secondly, he speaks even faster than I remembered. Thirdly, he's prone to make chicken-like movements. I didn't remember that at all.
He was even funnier live than on YouTube. He did a bit about his grumpy, ultra conservative Dad and how that influenced him to become a liberal. "Most people become liberals naturally... I just did to piss my Dad off. You'd think with the twirling and the shirt that I'm gay, but I'm not! I'm straight! It's all fake gayness to piss off my Dad, and it's become a part of me." He talked so fast that at one point he said "You think that's funny? Now imagine if you could understand what I'm actually saying!". That got the biggest laugh of his set. I felt a bit bad for him once I thought about that...
He also talked about how his Dad reacted to seeing his standup.
"'You portray me as an unloving Father.' he said. I actually felt a bit bad! 'Well Dad, we never really bonded.' I said. And then I hoped for that moment, that moment where he would look into my eyes and say 'You know son, I suppose we didn't' and hug me and we'd both cry, but that never happened. Instead he said, 'Yeah, well? I never hit you!' I thought: THAT's you're idea of being a loving father? That you didn't hit me? So I asked him 'Why didn't you hit me?'. He stopped and looked at me, and said 'Cos frankly, if I started, I never would've stopped.'". Loved it.
Then on came Nina Conti. She went into her monkey where she brilliantly took the piss out of ventriloquism (she went into a "trance" and her monkey tried to talk, but had no voice). The monkey then hit her and she awoke. "Ok, let's try this again," the monkey said. "This time you have to retain the part that makes me speak.". She then proceeded to sing a loud gutsy song with her mouth closed. I enjoyed it.
Next was Russell Howard. Bloody hilarious, but I remember next to nothing because he was so jumpy with what he talked about. He ran with a fluidity that blew my mind. The only things I remember was the bit where he talked about being at Wembley stadium in front of 14.000 people and having his tiny (under 5 foot) Mum sitting in the front row with her legs spread, saying "This is where the magic comes from". He also explained how she's not your average Mum, and how she defends his swearing, and talked about optimism. Apparently, he met a 7 year old who wanted to be a unicorn to stab things with his horn. "What kind of generation is this??? First kid: I want to be a flower! Second kid: I want to live in a candy village! Third kid: I WANNA STAB THINGS". Brilliant.
The last act of the first half was Adam Hills again. He did his stuff about the song "Feed The World" and the quickly released American song "We Are The World". He sang the songs of the different generations, as well as Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? to see if the Australians would yell out the response that Australians yelled when it was played live. "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?" They yelled: "NO WAY GET F**KED F**K OFF!". He joked about the creation of that lyrics, acting out a conversation among a load of low brow Australians. He also chatted about gay rights and the military, and his arm numbing while spooning. His arm went numb, and he was stroking his own arm (thinking it was his wife. He soon realized it was too muscly and hairy to be his wife's arm, and he thought there was another man in his bed with his wife and himself. He sat up and turned on the lights, only to find it was himself, and thought that was the test to see if he was gay, and found he was indeed straight. He told this story to his friends at a pub later that week, and they told him to put it in his stand up. He wrote "I'm Not Gay" on his hand with a pen so that he wouldn't forget the bit after drinking. When someone random in the bar asked him why "I'm Not Gay" was written on his hand, he absentmindedly replied: "Oh that? It's just a reminder".
There was a 15 minute break in which I wrote notes and watched ads for other comedy shows on a large screen, and a strange blanketed grand piano-shaped thing on wheels rolled onto the stage.
As a special surprise bonus, Sammy J and Randy were also added to the bill! They sang a song called Delete about deleting someone's life off the internet once they're dead, and a Metaphor-Off in which they describe their love for their girlfriends in more complicated and absurd metaphors, discover that they're dating the same girl, then somehow they ended up competing how many secrets they each had (e.g. I never saw Star Wars).
Adam Hills came back on talking about Dutch people, an American swimmer called Misty, and the Dutch phone company Ben. He then introduced Fiona, saying her most commendable attribute was that she missed Australia when Russell Brand got audience members to throw beer at him and one of the bottles crashed on the wall beside Fiona as she waited backstage.
Her set was alright. She talked about her kid having an annoying imaginary friend, smoking, and her kid remembering just before school: "Oh yeah, Mum... I need a cow costume for today" and her giving him a brown sweater and telling him to "be the cow".
Then came Greg Davies, wearing a shirt that was too short for him as always. He did his tall jokes, some terribly graphic stuff involving the sentence "thumbing marshmallows up a cat's anus", and about a very awkward dinner with his Mum and his sister. He made me cringe, but he made me laugh a lot too.
Lastly, out came David O'Doherty to end the night. He compared Ireland to living in an Enya song, and talked about Travelodges. He also talked about a muscly guy with a bulging sports bag pushing a button his Casio keyboard that made a goofy version of some sort of classical music go off in a silent train carriage. Everyone glared at him. Also, he sang the Beef 2011 Song, talking about the "20 year old Canadian guys" as the ones with the stupid lights and doodads on their cars.
After the show, Tibbs and I ran backstage and waited there for 5 minutes... 10 minutes... eventually, out came Adam Hills and David O'Doherty.
Me: Hi! *eats banana*
Me: I'm the kid who talked to you on Twitter!
AH: Oh... I thought you were, like, 17... wow...
Me: Nope. *laughs*
AH: We should probably get out of the way of the car here... *Adam stuffs his face with the banana* *drops banana peel* *car goes by*
Me: You probably want this... *picks up banana*
AH: Mm... *takes it*
DD: How're we gonna do this? *I wander over to him*
*Mum takes a photo of me looking really happy*
DD: So what's your name?
Me: Julianna. J-u-l-i-a-n-n-a...
DD: Ju...li...an...na... I... am.... Day...Vid... O... Do..hert... Please-- Turn-- over... y. There. (he wrote his signature ALL OVER the page).
Me: Thanks so much. These means a lot... I've been watching your stuff for ages.
DD: Oh really? Cool!
Mum took our photo, and I look enthusiastically happy.
Me: Hi again.
Me: Could you sign this?
AH: Yeah, sure...
AH: *writes a bit* To Julianna... See you online (in the nicest possible way). *smiles*
Me: Thanks very much! Photo...
*Mum takes lovely photo of us*
Adam Hills's Smile is always the same... I dunno how he does it...
We said some stuff about how we enjoyed the show, and said goodbye. We asked the backstage lady if there were anymore comedians in there, but apparently they had left during the show after their bits were done. The backstage lady then told us: "I'll tell you were they are though. They're at the Hyatt, 5th floor at the bar." she pointed. We followed her finger, and sure enough, there was a humongous HYATT nearby. Mum left me with Heather after making sure I had a key to the hotel, and we headed off at 11 at night (I grinned as I was without my Mum in another city for the first time).
We went up to the bar's entrance to find Adam Hills & David O'Doherty chatting a few meters from the door. In fear of appearing as if we were stalking them, we sneaked behind them on a small staircase. We walked into a small room with a map of the world traced out in tiny white lights, and I joked we should've brought Jimmy Carr suits or something just so that the bar wouldn't suspect us for stalking or something like that. Once in the Just-For-Laughs-monster-green elevator, we went up with an American black guy complaining to some fairly pretty women in heels how how no one laughed at his gig. He wore thick rimmed black glasses. I couldn't help but think "Well doesn't that mean you aren't funny? Doesn't it mean you need to change something rather than complain?" cos he just seemed like your typically rude American comic who isn't thorough with jokes and wants glory without the blood, sweat, and tears. Like Dane Cook, essentially.
The elevator opened, and we walked out into the general hall. The place was gorgeously modern with half lit, hanging, ceiling lights, carpeted floors, cushioned chairs, a pool table, a series of screens displaying large photos of comedians, a back balcony that overlooked the festival outside and the mall inside, and a circular bar in which the bartenders stood, turning in circles serving drinks.
Heather and I walked about the place in wonder, and ran into Tom Gleeson. We told him how we liked his bit and how Heather had watched him on Good News Week illegally. It was awkward to chat about watching Good News Week illegally, but he needed to go to the washroom. We directed him, smiled at each other, and moved on.
We sat at a small table for 5 minutes just to take in the excitement. I had told her before entering the place that I was hoping to meet Russell Howard and Greg Davies. And we did just that.
We headed towards Russell Howard, whispering between each other what the hell we'd do. I had a sketchbook for potential signing purposes and a camera. He sat in the corner talking to 2 other people who looked more like associates than friends. We approached as politely as secretly crazy comedy nerds can approach. He chatted with us, we told him we really enjoyed the show and we told him how far we'd each traveled to see him. He shook our hans and said it was nice chatting with us, and we were on our way. That's all I wanted.
Then we went on to Greg Davies.
Me:"Hi... Sorry this is a bit weird..."GD: "Weird? Hm. Why YES this IS very weird! Nah, it isn't. Go on..."
So very Greg Davies. We chatted about his set and how much we liked his set, and he said it was the best one he'd done so far, and he felt good about it. Heather added that it was a nice touch with the curtain as a newspaper, we thanked him, and we left him to drink alone at the bar.
With this happiness in our hearts, we attempted to get out of the Hyatt Hotel but ended up strangely routed into the Desjardins Mall. In the mall, Heather and I experienced the zombie apocalypse empty mall. We joked in our nervousness about all those zombie movies with massive fully-lit malls like this and Heather said this was a hell of a lot like an Xmas show nightmare she once saw. The nightmare was that there was a man stuck in a shopping mall that couldn't figure out how to get out. He soon realized the people around him aged and died while he stayed eternally young and immortal, forever unable to get out of this seemingly endless mall.
Eventually we got out through the parking lot after instructions from one lone yelling man and a security guard. Heather had to speak to him in french via telephone. It seemed oddly excessive. Heather dropped me off at the hotel at 2-3 am, and I fell asleep unbelievably easily.