The nasty show review just for laughs Montreal

REVIEW: The Nasty Show could use more filth

“Maybe mainstream comedy has become so degenerate that a showcase of humour derived from all that’s putrid and vile doesn’t make sense anymore. That or my polluted millennial mind has spent so much time in the gutter that nothing fazes me.”

I honestly have to wonder if they toned down The Nasty Show for the media night last Thursday at the venue that will forever be known as Metropolis. It was an English-language show and, if I had to guess, the median age of most anglo Montreal media people has to be somewhere in the 60s, so I’m wondering if the comedians were asked to dial it back a smidge.

That or my polluted millennial mind has spent so much time in the gutter that nothing fazes me anymore. Or maybe mainstream comedy has itself become so degenerate that a special showcase of humour derived from all that’s putrid and vile doesn’t make sense anymore. The more I thought about it, the more of the show I sat through, the more it was clear to me that this was another generation’s concept of ‘nastiness.’ It occurred to me that there are times I can barely stomach 11 minutes of Amy Goodman reading the news on Democracy Now!, and that’s literally just someone telling me what’s happening in the world right now. Tired jokes about the apparent difficulty of finding the G-spot really aren’t going to make me gag in 2022.

JFL bills The Nasty Show as the filthiest show of the festival. If that’s the case, comedy has become pretty fucking tame.

It wasn’t unfunny — everyone seemed to have a good time and most of the comedians had decent sets, but it didn’t quite feel like I was seeing what was advertised. In retrospect, this was definitely a show for boomers, but I can’t figure whether this was genuinely indicative of what you might expect to see at every subsequent show, or whether the content was geared towards the grey hairs who constitute an unfortunately high percentage of local media.

To underline this point, what seemed to be a Just for Laughs Dads’ garage band kicked off the show playing the classic rock hits of 50+ years ago. They continued playing between sets throughout, and at one point it sounded like they were playing an amalgam of the theme songs of every 90s sitcom… my brother leaned in and said “and introducing Jonathan Tyler Johnson as Randy.” Pretty much. I half expected Big Jay Oakerson to arrive on stage via star wipe.

Speaking of… Oakerson did a fine job as host. He kept the pace going, kept the audience entertained and earned some great laughs. I appreciated his endless torrent of subdued one-liners as much as his distinct way of crafting and constructing his narratives. Picking on the audience worked well, and I was actually surprised he was able to keep the joke going throughout much of the night. A lesser comedian would’ve run the joke into the ground but Oakerson somehow managed to keep it fresh. Hat’s off. That said, and continuing the 1990s vibe, I couldn’t stop wondering if he’s what’s become of Smash Mouth’s lead singer.

Josh Adam Meyers was the first set of the night and all I can say is that a) he wasn’t the right energy for the beginning of the show, and b) the JFL audio technicians need to either turn his mic up or turn the band down because it was difficult to hear whatever funny things he was saying. To the first point, Oakerson hadn’t built up the crowd sufficiently for Meyers’ hard rock musical comedy number, which made it feel really out of place. It almost seemed like Meyers himself realized there was a bit of discrepancy between the energy he was bringing to the stage and where the crowd was at. Meyers’ set was a little all over the map, mostly good but at times a little dull or dated. His observation about the guy at the party who says he never does coke and then does all the coke is spot on, but cocaine really is your grandfather’s drug. Today’s youth enjoys getting high on meth and virtue signalling. 

Sophie Buddle was second to go but should have been first since her set was a quirky slow burn that began a bit more subdued and seemed to better match the general atmosphere of the room. The only problem is that it really wasn’t all that nasty. Whereas Meyers seemed to have been pushing out all of whatever he considered to be his filthy material, Buddle seemed to be doing what I can only imagine to be her normal set. Don’t get me wrong, it was still funny, and some of her observations were particularly incisive, such as “How does bullying still exist with all these school shootings?” and “How aren’t all bullies in favour of gun control?”

Yamaneika Saunders was the first start-to-finish good set of the night, but again, low on the nastiness. Much of her set had to do with relationships and covered a lot of well-trod ground about men and how stupid and awful we are, but her delivery, sense of timing, gratuitous profanity and segues into absurdity kept it nice and fresh. She had some killer lines, like “Women want to fix men so much they should have their own show on HGTV.”

REVIEW: The Nasty Show could use more filth

Liza Treyger kicked off the second half and had a set that was as consistent and well-composed as Saunders’. Top marks for her observation about our ridiculous national dish: “Aren’t you so proud of your french fries covered in diarrhea?” Treyger’s comment on her own bisexuality leading to a confusing mishmash of sexual and romantic desires got a good laugh, with her realization that all she was really looking for was to date a “soft butch who can nail choreography.” Top points, too, for relating that she enjoys humiliation during sex with the observation, “What’s more humiliating than helping a man have a good time?”

Robert Kelly closed the show with a good set that was well-received yet still light on the filth. Too much of his set was about being fat, though there were some funny lines in there, such as “‘morbidly obese’ is like the N-word for fat people… and why did you have to throw morbidly in there as well?” and “there are different kinds of fat: I hate my wife fat, secretly gay fat, comic fat, Canadian fat.” I also appreciated his observation about the insinuation that healthy snacks can be just as enjoyable as the unhealthy kind: “Yogurt? Go fuck yourself!”

All of that to say, it was unclear whether this was a version of The Nasty Show aimed at a media audience that’s geriatric-adjacent or if ‘nasty’ now means sex jokes and some very tepid, borderline politically incorrect material. The sets were mostly good, the audience had a good time and I’d probably go see any of these comedians individually, I’m just not sure any of this really qualifies as nasty or filthy.

Final note, even though I really wasn’t crazy about the Boomer rock trio, it was poor form to not introduce them, even if they were all JFL upper management as I suspected. ■

To read our review of Just for the Culture, please click here. The Nasty Show continues its run at MTelus (59 Ste-Catherine E.) from July 28 & 29, 9:30 p.m., $57.47

For more Montreal comedy coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.