Pop Goes The News — Laughter filled a ballroom inside the Hyatt Regency in downtown Montreal on Friday afternoon as stars like Jim Carrey and Craig Ferguson were honoured at the Just For Laughs Awards.
Hosted by Alonzo Bodden, the show featured presenters Natasha Leggero, Jimmy Carr, Judd Apatow, Jeff Ross, W. Kamau Bell, and Jay Baruchel.
Carrey picked up the Generation Award and used the opportunity to share his unique take on Canadian history.
After asking the audience to stand for the singing of “the national song,” Carrey launched into Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 classic “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
BELOW: Listen to Jim Carrey sing Canada’s “national song.”
Carrey managed to mention Lester B. Pearson, Tim Horton, and Saint Jean de Brébeuf (“a Jesuit priest who had his heart eaten by the Iroquois Indians. They’re the guys with the cool haircuts that made them look like Robert DeNiro from Taxi Driver”).
BELOW: Listen to Jim Carrey talk about Iroquois.
He said everyone in Canada plays hockey (“It’s like the army in Israel. You gotta go”) and added: “Like every good Canadian boy, I fought and fought to get on that curling squad. I would have been on the Olympic team but I was disqualified for using a Swiffer.”
Carrey said he learned to be funny when he was young “because I had a sick mom and my dad was fucking hilarious so he made my mom feel better by making her laugh.
“And I sat back and I watched that and I thought, ‘there’s a purpose. I can make Mom laugh.’”
Ferguson, who was honoured with JFL’s Alumi Award, reflected on his 30-year relationship with the Montreal festival and offered advice to young comics.
“I want to say that, you know, don’t worry. That sense of inner despair will never leave you,” he said. “That empty hollow fucking darkness that drives you up there night after night to do standup, that’s never going to go away.
Ferguson ended on a serious note. “I really am delighted to get this and to be in such esteemed company,” he said. “Really, I couldn’t be more honoured.”
Kenya Barris, creator of the hit series Black-ish, was just as sincere when he took the stage to accept the Comedy Writer of the Year award.
“The reason that I will gladly accept this and be happy is that at the core of every comedian is a writer and I think that you guys are the best writers in the world,” he said. “I never thought that I would get a chance to get this. This is beyond humbling and I’m appreciative.”
Ali Wong, pregnant with her second child, praised her husband Justin for making it possible for her to continue to tour and perform.
She said these are exciting times for women in comedy. “I’m such a fan of all the diverse and amazing different things all these women are doing in comedy in front of and behind the camera,” said Wong. “There’s too many to name. I’m just such a fan of all of you. The women in comedy, it’s a fucked-up sisterhood and I’m so proud and happy to be a part of it.”
Mike Birbiglia picked up the Stand-Up Comedian of the Year award.
The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who was honoured as Comedy Person of the Year, said for a lot of comedians, coming to Montreal’s Just For Laughs festival is a dream.
“This means a lot to me because I came from a place where there was no flushing toilet,” he said, referring to his childhood in South Africa. “I came from a place where, when I was growing up, fame wasn’t on my register because freedom wasn’t. I came from a place where, as a country, we didn’t think we’d exist or achieve.
“I lived a tough life. My mom fought most of it for me.”
Noah added: “I just wanted to say thank you to every single comedian in this room for making me laugh, thank you for laughing with me, thank you to every single person who makes it possible.”