This year’s “Infringement Montreal,” the city’s most audacious art festival, was a great success, attracting a wide array of talent and large, appreciative audiences to its ten venues. What better place for some eager new stand-ups to strut their stuff?
Sholom Hoffman, a longtime pal of “Infringement” founder Donovan King, organized “Seven No-Name Comedians Doing Comedy,” after recently graduating from Montreal’s “Joey Elias Comedy School.” He and his fellow comics loved performing and wanted to sharpen their skills. “It’s hard to get onto the Open Mics – there are so many restrictions,” explained Hoffman, a gangly extrovert with an infectious grin. “It’s fun to find a group of people who love performing together like we do,” added soft-spoken classmate, Amalan Thiyagarajah. One by one, the comics arrived, warmly greeting each other with hugs and encouraging pats on the back.
When asked what drew them to stand-up, the responses varied. Erica Taddeo, a young editor, described her instant affinity for comedy writing. “I’d like to perform for a while to see where it leads me.” David Ford, an airline employee by day, confided he took the class to show his young sons what a “cool dad” he is.
Despite a last-minute change in venue, two doors down from “Le P’tit Cabaret” in Old Montreal, “SNNCDC” drew a capacity audience of families, well-wishers and comedy fans. The atmosphere was electric. The lineup: Hoffman, Thiyagarajah, Taddeo, Ford, plus Jonathan Sullivan, Sylvie Di Lullo, Thomas Lay and Mottel Zirkind, had only performed twice before.
As the evening’s host, Hoffman, aka Sholom Alone, was exceptionally poised. While a novice on stage, he’s well-versed in the local comedy scene; sister Robby Hoffman is a “Just for Laughs” up-and-comer. “I’d often go with her and hang out, when she organized shows.” Hoffman kept the show flowing with observational jibes and stories about his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. He quipped that with nine siblings, his mother was often reassuring. “Don’t worry – you’re not so special.”
Initially nervous, the comics were immediately buoyed by the enthusiastic crowd. It is a testament to Elias that all the comics had such fresh and vibrant material.
-Thiyagarajah’s gentle demeanor contrasted perfectly with his feisty rejoinders, as a “Straight-acting Gay.”
– Taddeo endearingly lamented a romance that ended by text message.
-With wry irritability, Ford bemoaned his non-existent love life, repeatedly cautioning the audience to never have children.
– Sullivan expressed acute disappointment with summer blockbuster movies, by enacting a dispute with a voice-over announcer.
– Zirkind, while devoutly religious, confided his problem with the Sabbath; it forces him to spend time with his family.
-Lay blithely revealed major differences between Quebec and his native France.
-Di Lullo shared her frustration at repeatedly being asked when she’ll get married. “This is 2014. Either you’re single, gay or from Quebec!”
Hoffman assures there will be more shows ahead for his talented team. For now, they are triumphantly accepting their accolades, grateful to “Infringement Montreal,” for allowing them their moment to shine.