Just For the Culture : A Good Laugh for the POCs

Alonzo Bodden. Just for Laughs Ethnic Show. Photo Rachel Levine Alonzo Bodden. Just for Laughs. Photo Rachel Levine

Just For Laughs (JFL) is a significant source of pride for many Canadians, especially Quebecers. After all, this Montréal-born comedy festival is the largest international comedy festival worldwide, according to The Guardian. Like everything else, JFL had to turn virtual for two years, but this year they have at last made their highly anticipated live performance comeback.

Considering how COVID-19 had been the most viral topic in both the media and in our common interactions for over a year, one might have expected JFL’s first comeback show to at least dip their toes in the endless well of possible coronavirus-related jokes. However, we are talking about the world’s best comedy festival, so milking these easy, unoriginal and predictable jokes would not be their style. And this might have been the best decision for them to do, as the crowd (just like everyone else) has grown very blasé about this topic.

Instead — as always — Just for Laughs successfully delivers an entertaining show that manages to shine in its relatable-ness and cleverness without having to renounce a drop of its originality. Even the host Alonzo Boden, although not an official performer per se, could have easily been mistaken for one with his hilarious remarks and jabs.

This year’s Just for the Culture edition brings on stage half a dozen of performers each from a unique background, from Greek to Arabic to Chinese. The mix of the artists’ creative and peculiar personalities bring together a beautifully diverse whole. The humour of some is more crude than others or more sexually charged, or more dry, but at the end of the day what really sets the comedians apart is how they seemingly each draw from one main type of taboo different than the previous comedian! Indeed, the success of comedians generally relies on the way they cross some lines here and there — just enough to take their audience by surprise and provoke them, but not too much and to the point of upsetting them.

If you are a child of immigrant parents, this show is a must-watch. Take your fellow second generation immigrant and other ethnic friends with you too, even if they are not from the same background as you. You will quickly notice this show’s incredible ability to unite people in their common differences. I, for one, would hardly seem to share any meaningful experiences or attitudes with any of these comedians, as we are separated by decades of difference in age, as well as distinct cultural and religious identity. But these factors did not prevent their performances from being hilarious in the slightest, nor did they make most of their content any less relatable. Humour proves itself to be a universal constant throughout all cultures, a colourblind escape to the equally-universal hardships that all humans go through.

Just for the Culture is part of Just For Laughs, running from July 13 – 31. Info on tickets is HERE.