On Thursday evening at Stage 773, the lobby was filled to capacity with young comedy fans excited for the third evening of Just for Laughs performances. With three stages in the venue, some of the shows seemed to be competing for audience members, as the audience for the Team Coco podcast had only six people, one of which was a festival staffer.
The event started out awkwardly, like a friend’s birthday party that fell on the same night as a more popular friend’s party, but host Aaron Bleyaert won the small audience over with trivia and Team Coco swag. Guests Brendon Walsh and Ben Roy made the most of the intimate crowd, and the feelings of self-consciousness on both the performers’ and audience’s parts soon evaporated. The podcast itself wasn’t much more than a group of guys shooting the shit about tattoos and prank-calling Red Lobster, but the guests were easygoing and didn’t fall into the “comedians talking about serious shit” pattern that Walsh noted many comedy podcasts relied on.
The crowd was more robust for Set List: Stand-up Without a Net, perhaps because of the later show time, or maybe because people really want to see comedians tackle an improvised set list of insane, projected topics ranging from “overmagicing” to “non-sexual nude 69.” At the top of the show, host Paul Provenza asked the audience not to be dicks, saying, “Don’t be the one that watches the tight rope walker and hopes they don’t make it across,” advice the audience seemed to take to heart.
Kumail Nanjiani opened the show, setting the bar incredibly high for the other comics. He was never once fazed by his topics, and somehow managed to make “testiclenomics,” a Marxist system of wealth distribution dependent on the number of testicles one has (designed to screw over Lance Armstrong), seem like a well-rehearsed part of his repertoire. Nanjiani was at ease throughout his performance, and didn’t shrug off any jokes simply due to the looseness of the show.
First-timer Renee Gauthier seemed a bit uncomfortable but caught her stride by the time she received the topic “It’s like the Mayans say,” pleading ignorance on anything the Mayans said because she went to art school. Todd Barry made a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance, quickly but charmingly breezing through his set list, closing on a self-professed anticlimactic joke about the indie band Grizzly Bear needing friendship consultants to navigate their indie popularity.
Walsh was given a doozy of a set list, but still managed to entertain despite having a bit of a deer in headlights look about him. He even got some laughs with the absurd topic “finding out at 80 that you have 80 kids,” a bit that he peppered with the mental image of having 80 babies dressed in period clothing all sitting on his lap. Finally Moshe Kasher closed out the evening on a raunchy note, with thoughts about hardcore cuddling fetishists (inspired by the suggestion “non-sexual nude 69”) surprisingly serving as one of his tamer jokes.