We all know the famous expression “one face one race”. No matter our nationalities or where we come from, we can always find some sort of common ground like food, family, traditions, etc. Another important element that brings everyone together is comedy and being able to laugh not only at ourselves, but with others as well. This is exactly what you get at the Ethnic Show! This showcase has been part of the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival for almost 10 years and is easily one of the most popular shows at the iconic summer event. It’s a show where comedians of all different backgrounds perform and do what they do best- make fun of themselves and everyone else! Cultural sensitivity is thrown out the window at the Ethnic Show! All in good fun of course. The 2017 edition of the Ethnic Show was an amazing one and I was fortunate to scope it out for myself. The comedians may all be from different lineages but the one similar trait they all had was to have a good time and make everyone laugh.
The host was American comedian Alonzo Bodden who you may recognize from the reality competition series Last Comic Standing and the films Bringing Down The House and Scary Movie 4. No stranger to Just For Laughs, Alonzo is a very likeable and naturally charismatic and did a great job as this year’s dutiful Ethnic Show host. He wasn’t shy to express his love for the city of Montreal- especially our beautiful women and wide array of strip-clubs. He also wasn’t shy to have a good laugh at the expense of a couple of nonchalant latecomers who I’m pretty sure, weren’t getting that he was picking on them.
Each act brought their own international flavours to the show. First up was Bronx born Vladimir Caamano. With a name like Vladimir, you’d think he was Russian right? Well think again, he’s actually of Dominican descent! So of course, he brought the Latin flavour to the stage with hilarious impersonations of his father and the ever so distinct way he calls his sons name. Following Vladimir was Portuguese-Canadian comedian Mike Rita, who also included jokes about his immigrant parents along with their initial disgust turned eventual love of recreational marijuana. Can’t say the Portuguese are simply known for their chicken and vino verde!
After Mike came a very different performance brought to us by the Canadian-Italian duo known of the Doo-Wops! Comprised of John Catucci and David Mesiano and introduced as “one guy plays the guitar and the other one is an ass-hole”, their bit was part comedy act and part concert. Both have great singing voices and made the crowd laugh out loud with their original songs such as their infamous “Mangia Cake Girl” (about non-Italians). On a “serious” note they also took the time to express their distaste for racism- and the Portuguese! Much to the disdain of fellow act Mike Rita.
Then came Korean-Irish-American comedian and actor Steve Byrne with his no holds barred act. For a brief moment I thought I was at the Nasty Show! Oh who am I kidding, the Nasty would be way more offensive!He had no shame in poking fun of Asians as well as other backgrounds and stereotypes. Nor did he hold back on insulting the venue location (Club Soda) with it’s giant venetian blinds and closed in space. We were fortunate enough to attend the Ethnic Show on his birthday therefore, he was appreciative of the extra applause.
The final act was Jewish-American Jessica Kirson who can easily win at a Kirstie Alley look-alike contest! I saw Jessica at last year’s Ethnic Show and was really looking forward to seeing her again. I was also ecstatic for a kick ass female comic! Her act was filled with funny impersonations and hilarious personal stories such as- her family’s desire for her to find a nice Jewish wife. Jessica not only rocked the stage but did a fabulous job representing female comics. She got a well deserved standing ovation.
The 2017 edition of the Ethnic Show really was a night of non-stop laughter, everyone had their own particular brand of humour and the whole show flowed together really nicely. I often think of the Ethnic Show as a simple reminder of how in the end we’re not that different after all. . Even the most far fetched and exaggerated of stories felt so relatable and familiar. Great start to this year’s Festival season and I’m looking forward to seeing other amazing acts.
*Photo courtesy of Just For Laughs