There aren’t a lot of things you can reasonably expect to be shocked by at the Just For Laughs festival.
Featuring long-running shows with names like The Ethnic Show and The Nasty Show, if there was some way that you wandered into a comedy fest and did not know what you were getting yourself into, you would really have nobody to blame but yourself.
So I came into this festival fully braced for whatever could be thrown at me. Bring on the jokes about sex, women, weight, addiction, depression, and ethnicity. I was expecting all of it.
What I did not expect was Ryan Hamilton.
Disarmingly funny, Ryan Hamilton: Edgy, Boundary-Pushing Comedian, had me in stitches more consistently than any other show I’ve seen so far at Just For Laughs. And most amazingly, it was done without a single dirty joke, slapstick dick joke, or even one swear word.
I had almost forgotten that very good comedy could exist that was—shockingly, amazingly—not R-rated, and full of feel-good humour that you could reasonably take your niece to go and see without her parents getting angry. It was fresh, poignant, and light-hearted without sacrificing depth.
The only complaint I have about this show is that I wish it had been longer. The opener, Ivan Decker, could have done an entire show by himself. Though he shared the clean style that was clearly thematic, he had his own refreshing brand and a unique stage presence that I haven’t seen before. I’ll be looking out for him in the future.
My friend Sabs, a cynic at the best of times, said it best on our way out of the theatre: “That was a really nice way to end a day. Laughing at stuff like that, it felt good.” And indeed, Ryan Hamilton has achieved something that I had forgotten even was a thing: high quality humour that doesn’t leave you feeling even a little bit dirty.
At a place like JFL, an idea like that is really edgy, and truly boundary-pushing.
Ryan Hamilton: Edgy, Boundary-Pushing Comedian runs through July 29th. Get your tickets through hahaha.com
Also check out Ryan Hamilton’s Netflix special, Happy Face, premiering this August 29th