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

It’s no secret that Montreal is probably the comedy capital of Canada (if not the world). The city alone is full to the brim with funny people, and maybe that’s why hilarious folk from all around the world just keep coming back here.

Right now, we are in the middle of the Montreal Sketchfest, the annual celebration of sketch comedy bringing together more than 60 troupes for your laughing pleasure. This year’s edition kicked off with a fantastic show on Thursday at Theatre Sainte-Catherine, featuring some of the funniest people I’ve ever seen.

The opening night show was hosted by Match Made in Hell. Alain Merceica and Lise Vigneault play a Haligonian couple, plaid shirts, beer, hair, accent (for the most part) and all. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t really the hoser bit that made their interludes work for me; but rather the synergy they had between themselves. I mean – I’m not Canadian, so cultural references tend to fall flat on me. Very unfortunate, but I am working on it.

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Employees of the Year, doing interpretative dancing to Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball.

After the comedy conch was blown, Employees of the Year, Ross Wegschedier and Emeila Hellman, took the stage. With them, it started rather slow. They started listing things they can’t really joke about. I can’t be sure if they were being bitter in the vein of political-correctness-ruins-comedy, or if they were just “socially aware.” Either way, that definitely wasn’t the highlight of their bit.

Good sketch comedy is all about a good script, even though improvised stuff gets sprinkled all throughout. It’s all about transitions. And the Employees of the Year were pretty darn good with their transitions.

After the bit about jokes they could not do, they concluded that the only thing they could joke about as white folks was dating. Eventually, Ross convinced the audience to help him out in surprising Emelia by kidnapping her. Because, you know, it worked for Justin Bieber in that music video. Then, there was this amazing bit of interpretative dancing.

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“Clown on clown action” by The Don’t We Boys.

Then came The Don’t We Boys, a funny trio of United Statesians, who told the audience that they could totally do their show in French, but did not because there are a lot of anglos in Montreal, and they wouldn’t want to ostracize any of them. Very hilarious indeed.

These three white guys mostly rely on dramatic twists and unexpected turnarounds for their comedic punch. For instance, their opening skit was about a clown who orders a clown to come entertain him, because he is depressed. It turns out however, the depressed clown was actually paid by a guy to be entertained by another clown, who gets off from “clown on clown” action. In another one, a car hijacking scene turns out to be a PSA about seatbelts.

On the other hand, however, I would like to call them out on one of the “jokes” they made. Jokes about rape and sexual assault never were funny, still aren’t funny, and will never be funny. Just sayin.

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MARV doing the ASMR radio show.

After the intermission came MARV. Alex Brown and Mark Rostrup are two hipster-looking Montrealers, whose skits revolve around the quirky things you would expect them to do. And no, this is not hipster shaming – I’m pretty sure they are very self-aware of the act they’re putting out.

My favourite MARV skit was about a radio show from Saskatchewan called “The Northern Whispers,” which airs solely for the listening pleasure of people who’re into ASMR. For those who do not know, ASMR is that weird tingly, euphoric feeling some people get upon hearing whispering, clicking, smacking, hushing, or any kinda weird sounds. As such, throughout that skit, the two hosts of the show tried to do a variety of different noises, but failed miserably – hence the humour and laughter.

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Ladies & Gentlemen doing what they do best.

Last, but definitely not least (because I think they were the headliners), was Ladies & Gentlemen. Their show had everything: puns, a more or less linear narrative, puns, courtroom drama, puns, a twist, and did I say puns?

I was mostly impressed by the fact that Chris Sandiford and Daniel Carin were able to tie in all their jokes into one narrative. It wasn’t just disjointed skits one watches one after the other. There was a clear storyline, and for some reason I enjoyed that.

My favourite bit came somewhere in the middle, where Chris and Daniel (who were playing a lawyer and a witness) went on this surreal cross-examination process. If I remember correctly, Daniel cross-examined a gang member, a psychologist, a hot dog, a weapons expert, and some other differently hilarious people.

At any rate, Ladies & Gentlemen were definitely very funny and I think I might go see them once again on Friday, May 13, when they will be performing at the Comedy Church!.

Bottom line is, if you haven’t already been to a Sketchfest show, what the hell are you waiting for? Great sketches, great troupes, great laughter. Don’t miss out.

There is something happening every night for Montreal Sketchfest until May 14. Go to montrealsketchfest.com for more information on how to get those tickets and see all these funny people.

Featured image features Match Made in Heaven. 

All photography by Cem Ertekin.

Don’t be confused; there’s nothing macabre about the show Die Mutter. And no, this isn’t a new mounting of the Bretolt Bretch play. (although there is an obvious German influence).

Instead the name refers to the hilarious sketch comedy stylings of the Toronto duo Noemi Salamon and Deborah Ring. And after seeing their show you will most definitely be in a very good mood.

From life coaches to Shia LeBeouf to club bitches, no one is safe from their brutal mockery. The skits range from absurd to hyper sexualized to witty commentaries on how, as the ladies so delicately put it, “white people are the worst.”

Even the weakest skits are smarter than entire other Fringe shows (that will not be named obviously) and produce a chuckle. The strongest skits will have you laughing out loud.

While the show is most definitely NOT kid appropriate, the appeal of their zany sketches, it seemed, was not solely that of a 20-30 something hipster. People of all ages were in attendance at the Montreal Improv, and all laughing in equal measure. If only it were possible to raise Christopher Hitchens from the dead to show him that he was quite wrong; women can indeed be very funny.

While the Montreal Fringe is now over, make sure to check them out next time you’re in Toronto!

When you see sketch comedy at 2 p.m. you have to wonder how much laughter could possibly come out of you at midday. Specifically, if you’re like me,  you’re probably still recovering from the Fringe festival beer tent the night before. You’re going to need a high dose of comedy, especially in the afternoon.

When you see great sketches that make you laugh, even in a muddled state, you realize that comedy—good comedy—has no temporal boundaries when it’s professionally done. This was the case for my first comedy show at the Fringe festival, Get Off the Stage Presents: All Their Golden Hits.

With each passing routine, I got more and more excited about each upcoming sketch. Chuckling to myself during music interludes between numbers, I sounded like I was choking on buttered popcorn in a theatre. Regardless of my strange laughter, everyone in the audience was having a great time.

Brought to you by the House of Style, the comedy troupe made up of skillful humorists Kyle Allatt, Timothy Diamond and Ryan Hipgrave, the show opened with an overly tongue-in-cheek McDonald’s owned by Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers. As customers order food from Michael McDonald at the counter, he sings back at them catchy responses like the song “no, we do not have Big Macs” sung in Doobie Brothers’ style.

The House of Style program and websiteThe next few sketches were chock-full of really terrible and incompetent doctors, failed Mars landing speeches that should have been epic and alien encounters that mocked our specie-centric view of the universe.

The definitive sketch of the afternoon was a man’s problematic relationship with his lord and savior Jesus, who now insists that they hang out all the time together, sheesh.

While there was no single thread to any of the pieces, “the best of” really did prove that a great deal of comedy is knowing how to make your audience laugh, even at two in the afternoon. Like a slug slouched over with a Bloody hangover, this intrepid fringe reporter still managed to laugh his proverbial pants off and have a ludicrously fabulous time, even at 2  p.m.

Get Off The Stage will be performing again at OFF A – Montreal Improv (3713 Saint-Laurent #202) on Sunday, June 23 at 9:45 p.m. See the Montreal Fringe Festival‘s website for more info.