CULT #MTL released the annual Best of Montreal round up in their May issue--available now at quality deps and cool establishments across the city--and we had the pleasant surprise of finding our weekly comedy show Arts and Laughs at #2 in Best Stand-Up Comedy Night.
Now, a lot of people will tell you that being #2 is nothing to write home about. Second place is merely first place for losers. Well, we don't see it that way.
Some people will try to cast us in the same light as a silver medal, John Oates, Art Garfunkel, but what else is the #2 synonymous with? Shit, of course. By logic, Arts and Laughs is "the shit" and that is something we take great pride in.
It's a reach to brush off the shame that #2 usually connotes, but in all honesty, what an achievement. Arts and Laughs really has no business being placed above Emma Wilkie's There's Something Funny Going On at Blue Dog or Natalie Willett and Bianca Yates' Open Michelle at ComedyNest, but we'll take it!
Last summer, I spent an evening in St. Viateur park with Brunch Club head honcho Sasha Manoli and Hot Goss Podcast host Kelly Kay. And I'll never forget Sasha's pitch:
"So we're going to start doing a weekly show called Arts and Laughs. Every week, there will be a new theme and the comics on the show will prepare a piece of art and new material that relates to that week's theme. Meanwhile, everyone in the audience will have art supplies in front of them and at the end of the show all the crafts get collected and the best crafts win a free beer."
"Wow that sounds like a fucking train wreck..." I muttered underneath my breath.
"What's that Iain?" Sasha asked indignantly.
Today, I am so glad that Sasha left the park undeterred by my inherent negativity because I personally owe Arts and Laughs a great deal of gratitude as a performer. Each time I've been assigned a theme, it has unearthed material that I am extremely proud of and I've been able to go up and grab the mic slightly less self-conscious than other comedy nights because there is an underlying, unspoken agreement between performer and audience member that what they are about to see is an experiment. And that spirit of experimentation is what makes it, for me, so enjoyable as an audience member too. Even though I have the utmost faith in local comedians to be funny in their own right, watching them tackle topics they may not otherwise address in other venues is special.
Look at me waxing poetic for something I didn't even really believe in at first.
In summation, congratulations to everyone that's helped make Arts and Laughs the second best weekly comedy show in the city.