JFL42, Toronto’s comedy festival created by Just For Laughs, has the largest collection of LGBT comedians to date. Among the 42 performances running Sept 22 to Oct 1, here are some that you won’t want to miss:
Tig Notaro has been described by Sarah Silverman as someone who has always “gotten the most amount of laughs with the least amount of words.” Tig’s been on the radar for years, but she solidified her spot in the record books in July 2012 when she performed at Largo just days after being diagnosed with breast cancer — the performance sold over 100,000 units in just six weeks. She documented that performance in her emotional self-titled documentary, Tig, which was released in 2015, as well as the turbulent beginnings of a romantic relationship with her now wife, Stephanie. Tig will be performing her stand-up at the fest and will also share her story at her In Conversation at ComedyCon, the new daytime series within JFL42.
A breakout star of the digital age, Matt Bellassai is best known for getting drunk at work and complaining about things to a webcam — a true millennial inspiration. He has since left his post at Buzzfeed to pursue solo projects (AKA getting drunk at home and complaining about things to a webcam). He’s also taking precious time out of his drinking schedule to build a stand-up career, of which JFL42 will see his Toronto debut.
Actress, fashion designer and Kim Jong Un impressionist Margaret Cho is never one to back down. Cho is known for her relentlessly political, sexual and hilarious comedic acts. The recently named co-host of E!’s Fashion Police has been a long-time activist, frequently calling for better representation in media and the ending of violence against the trans community and queer people of colour. Cho will perform two solo shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and can be seen at her In Conversation taking place at Second City during ComedyCon at JFL42.
Actor, comedian and style icon — Cameron Esposito is bringing the side-mullet north of the border during her banner year. In March, Esposito released her debut comedy special, Marriage Material, she was named one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch” for 2016 and is now the star and producer of Seeso’s original series, Take My Wife. Her podcast, Put Your Hands Together, recently made Rolling Stone’s “Best of Comedy Podcasts” list and will be recorded live at JFL42. Esposito will also be performing her own solo stand-up shows during the festival.
A rising talent on the stand-up scene, Thomas Dale was a New Face at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal in 2012. The nationally touring New Yorker draws from his experience growing up gay in a large Italian family. He has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Adam Devine’s House Party and was a regular panelist on Chelsea Lately.
The multi-talented Sabrina Jalees writes, acts and hosts, making her a widely recognized face in Canadian media. Now living in LA as a writer for NBC’s upcoming show, Powerless. The Toronto native returns home this month to perform at JFL42. Jalees faced a massive fallout with her extended family after coming out, and used the experience as inspiration for her 2013 comedy tour, Brownlisted.
DeAnne Smith is a self-described trouble-maker who hides a lot of anti-patriarchy sentiment behind an adorable smile. The Canadian-American comedian has toured all over the world, appearing on television in four countries. At the 2011 Canadian Comedy Awards she was nominated for best female stand-up and has performed at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival seven times since 2007.