Off JFL is a treasure trove for comedic discovery

Highlights of the Just for Laughs festival’s alt programming.

Tony Rock

Every year, comedy fans and industry heads alike flock down to Montreal for Just for Laughs. As the largest comedy festival in the world, it boasts impressive line-ups year after year. As a dual ventureship with ZooFest, Just for Laughs also presents OFF-JFL, which features smaller-scale comics at intimate venues. Here are some highlights of the festival’s alt programming that are worth checking out.

Chris Rock recently dubbed his baby brother Tony Rock the “best comic in the family,” which is higher praise than meets the eye when considering they have seven other siblings. Host of both BET’s Black Card Revoked and HBO’s recent All Def Comedy revival, the younger Rock is a legend in his own right. The Brooklyn-bred comedian weaves a hip hop flare into his brand of blunt, observational humour, providing hilarious perspectives on a number of contemporary matters. Tony Rock & Friends goes down July 28 at Katacombes.

Aparna Nancherla

Politically incorrect is a light way of describing Andrew Schultz’s comedic stylings. A close collaborator of The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne the God, Schultz deep dives into the issues of modern America with his middle finger front and centre. From gross-out to downright offensive, nothing is off limits. Catch Schultz’s one-night-only show, Views From the Cis, July 27 at la Chapelle.

Since her last time at the festival, Aparna Nancherla has enjoyed some considerable television triumphs. As a series regular on both Comedy Central’s Corporate and season four of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman, the comedian is en route to becoming an important name in the medium’s future. For Nancherla’s deadpan takes on relationships, introversion, mental health and much more, you can find her at Théâtre Sainte Catherine from July 19–22, and July 23–28 at St-Laurent’s Mainline Theatre.

Neal Brennan has come into his own over the past decade. While he may still be best known as co-creator on Chappelle’s Show, the dark-humour-ist recently released what may be Netflix’s most compelling stand-up special to date, 3 Mics. The three-time Emmy nominee offers a potent blend of hilarity and sensitivity, with a firm understanding of the power of duality. Brennan’s Here We Go Tour hits Place des Arts’s Salle Claude-Léveillée from July 24–27. ■