Have you ever had one of those 3am conversations with a fellow music aficionado, sitting on the floor with vinyl records strewn about, debating the merits of certain genres of music in a kind of stream-of-consciousness free-flow of observations and criticisms? If not, Fred Armisen can give you the full experience.

Saturday night at the Olympia, the former Saturday Night Live star, co-creator of Portlandia and band leader for Late Night with Seth Meyers took to the stage for his one-man show and immediately began asking questions he’s clearly been pondering for years now: how can you tell when a jazz solo for upright bass has ended? Why don’t violinists cue up the orchestra? Why do horn players always talk about money?

The evening is a journey into the mind of a man who has spent the past several decades observing the oddities of both music and comedy. He calls the show “Comedy For Musicians… but everyone is welcome“. There really couldn’t be a more apt title. The audience ate it up, but those with a musical background clearly got more out of the show.

It helped that the crowd was well­­ warmed-up by local comedian Francois Bellefeuille, who gave a Nasty Show-worthy anecdote about his internship as a veterinarian, where he found himself having to masturbate a horse to completion and get graded for it.

Armisen, perhaps not having heard his set, awkwardly brought the subject back to horses at one point in his own act, noting that they always seem to look through you with little interest. To the audience‘s relief, the subject promptly swung back to music.

Like the best kind of high school teacher, Armisen exudes a casual warmth that immediately puts you at ease, while also piquing your interest. True, there were moments where his delivery almost recalled that of Nicholas Fehn, his SNL character who was famously unable to complete a single sentence without starting another.

Nevertheless, much of the pleasure in the show came from his ability to hop, skip and jump around. He even copped to the unorthodox nature of his comedy, saying “When I first came up with that – I guess I’ll call it a joke”. In a festival overflowing with punchlines, his approach to humour was a breath of fresh air.

Armisen took us through the percussive evolution of Punk Rock and vented on the following: needlessly long pieces of classical music, guitar players who sing along to their own solos, singers who pretend they can‘t reach their notes when they clearly can, and guitarists who make feedback a large part of their act.

In his best bit, he reenacted what he believed must have been the inner narrative of the studio drummer performing the opening to Diana Ross’ hit “I’m Coming Out”.

At one point, Armisen even lead the audience in an improvised sing-along reminiscent of his hilarious Garth and Kat SNL sketches, where he and costar Kristen Wiig would have to keep up with each other’s spur-of-the-moment lyrics.

The audience was able to follow along, and for their efforts were rewarded with a few short songs by some of Armisen’s fictional bands, Test Pattern and Blue Jean. They left with only one complaint: that the musician left without returning for an encore, which the crowd eagerly demanded. Here’s hoping the next time Armisen returns to Montreal, he is ready and willing to give them more of what they came for.

Tickets for other Just For Laughs shows are available at hahaha.com.

Sasheer Zamata is a comedian, actress, writer, former Saturday Night Live cast member and the ACLU’s Celebrity Ambassador for the Women’s Rights Project. She’s also performing an OFF-JFL solo show as part of Just For Laughs this summer in Montreal.

FTB’s Samantha Gold spoke with her about being a black woman in the comedy world, her upcoming visit to Montreal, the different merits of sketch comedy and standup comedy and more:

Sasheer Zamata performs as part of OFF JFL, tickets and info at hahaha.com

Could it be that simple? Probably not, in all honesty, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe the best way to beat Steve Bannon is to promote him and call him President on TV shows that actual US President Donald Trump watches.

He may no longer tweet about it since officially taking over the Oval Office, but you can bet Trump still watches Saturday Night Live, if only to mutter about it under his breath. If he did this past Saturday, then he saw this very well thought out and, ahem, perfectly cast Cold Open:

It’s important for the President to see this skit for one reason and one reason alone: how it portrays his relationship with his Chief White House Strategist and noted white supremacist hatemonger Steve Bannon.

If Bannon’s Seen as the Alpha Male, Trump May Lose It

It’s become quite apparent that the new President is rather thin-skinned and media obsessed. His Inauguration crowd seems to still dominate his thoughts, as does the fact that he lost the popular vote.

With him, it’s always about being seen as the most popular guy in the room, the boss who can fire who he wants, the guy who can get any woman he wants and get away with doing anything he wants to them. If he felt the need to be the alpha male on a bus with Billy Bush, even to the point of bragging about sexual assault, you can bet he needs to be the big tough alpha in his administration.

If Trump starts to think that people see Bannon as the alpha and not him, then maybe, just maybe, his own insecurities may get the better of him and he’ll fire the former Breitbart boss.

There was already a report in the New York Times that the President was angry he was not fully briefed on his own Executive Order that gave Bannon a permanent seat on the National Security Council. My guess is that Bill O’Reilly or someone on FOX News probably mentioned the unprecedented nature of the move in passing and Trump, who has been known to tweet out policy ideas identical to what the network was talking about an hour earlier, got mad.

Of course, the President denied the report, as only he can:

The way to have any kind of effect on this President isn’t through logical arguments or facts, it’s not by appealing to his sense of responsibility or decency, it’s by showing the bully that he’s really not the toughest kid in the schoolyard.

Bannon Needs to Go

The reason pointing out and mocking Steve Bannon’s control over this President and the country is so easy to do is because it’s also quite true.

Bannon, you see, has a worldview, and a far-right, ultra-nationalist, uber-capitalist, white supremacist, Islamophobic one at that. He sees threats through his own filter, not through facts. Unlike Trump, it’s not about his ego, it’s about what he can do and how quickly he can do it.

In Trump, Bannon has found the perfect vehicle to transform America into the racist hellscape he fantasizes about. Someone who will rule by executive decree without even reading or caring about what those decrees say.

Now, if Trump does fire Bannon, it doesn’t mean that he would turn into a good President or even a less horrific one. After all, it was Bannon’s followers who put Trump over the top and the current President will still feel the need to play to them, but at least there won’t be a far-right true believer pulling his strings anymore.

Steve Bannon has to go. If making his boss realize that he is being played by mocking Bannon’s dominance on TV can make that happen, then it’s up to those on TV (Donald’s not really a reader) to make it happen. If not, there’s always total revolution.

* Featured image: Saturday Night Live screengrab