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My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

Just For Laughs and a Bear Hug


I just returned from Montreal, where I caught the last few days of the annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. Scott Thompson was debuting his new stand-up show, That Trigger’s Crazy, at a 120-seat venue called The Mainline. Scott’s show is very him - bits about surviving cancer and the mastectomy he required after the chemotherapy raised his estrogen levels to the point where he grew breasts (all true!), plus lots of scandalous gay sex stories about bathhouses, culminating in a shocking but hilarious bit about a Human Urinal who waved him away, saying that his piss wasn’t good enough. It was a triumph for Scott, who is preparing to move back to Los Angeles this fall.

After the show, we stuck around to see the other performers, including a totally brilliant Tom Green, whose bit about being eight-years old and hiding inside a cedar hedge had the audience in paroxysms of laughter. It was Tom’s 45th birthday and we celebrated backstage by drinking his own beer, crafted for him by an Ottawa microbrewery. 

Then came an epic marathon show, featuring Janeane Garofalo, Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, and Judd Apatow. Scott had worked with both Janeane and Judd on The Larry Sanders Show, so it was quite a reunion. Janeane, the furthest thing from a prima donna or a Hollywood phony, remembered me from over 20 years ago when I was in Los Angeles for The Emmy Awards (we lost to The Ben Stiller Show, in which Janeane starred). All three - Scott, Tom Green and Janeane - were '90s comedy stars, and their audiences keep them alive more than the networks and studios that made their hits. This was made apparent when Tom Green asked the audience to shout out lines from his film, Freddy Got Fingered (one of the worst reviewed movies of all time). The audience went crazy, shouting out chunks of dialogue and songs. Tom smiled, then asked them to shout out lines they remembered from The English Patient. The stunned silence made his point. 

But the best thing ever occurred in the lobby before the show. Seth Rogan, who has worked with Judd Apatow on movies like SuperbadKnocked Up and Pineapple Express, showed up in a plain white T-shirt. Scott went up and introduced himself. Seth embraced him, saying “Hey, it’s the one person I most wanted to meet that I never realized how much I wanted to meet! I loved Kids in the Hall!” Then Scott, ever the gentleman, waved over to me and told Seth, “And look, I brought Bellini!”

Seth lit up, screamed “Holy fuck! Bellini!” and gave me a smothering bear hug. Every face in the room turned in our direction. “You’re the second most person I never knew how much I wanted to meet!” And that was it. The ego boost I have for so long sought. Seth Rogan remembered the Towel Guy from The Kids in the Hall, and did so loudly and in public. It was the kind of thing that could only ever happen at Just for Laughs. 

 

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