By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
---- — MONTREAL — Not just funny, but sidesplitting, knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny.
The 31st edition of Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival returns for some serious stand-up comedy, unique theatrical performances and free outdoor activities now through Sunday, July 28.
Here’s how to have some fun in the summertime.
The Just For Laughs Galas offer traditional stand-up comedy shows usually filmed to be broadcast on the likes of CBC in Canada or on Comedy Central. This year’s edition offers the biggest Galas lineup ever with 10 performances over five nights. Top-name hosts keep the top-notch lineups moving along.
Comedian Dane Cook kicks off the Galas with Jeremy Hotz and Harland Williams in tow at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24. SNL alum and soon-to-be late-night talk-show host Seth Meyers takes the 10 p.m. spot on July 24 that features Hannibal Buress and Sean Cullen.
“Knocked Up” actor and Montreal native Jay Baruchel hosts at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 25. Then Brit bad-boy Eddie Izzard hosts the 10 p.m. July 25 show.
Talk about good witch versus bad witch! The oh-so-“Wicked” Kristin Chenoweth hosts the 7 p.m. Friday, July 26, gala, while the caustic Kathy Griffin takes the stage later that evening at 10.
Comedian queen Joan Rivers hosts an early bird special at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Then comedy princess Sarah Silverman hosts two shows July 27, at 8:15 and 11 p.m.
The witty Whitney Cummings closes the Just For Laughs Galas at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 28.
Performances are held at Places des Arts. Tickets range from $41 to $99.
TALK OF THE FEST
Talk of the Fest also offers traditional stand-up comedy routines, this time in a more intimate setting at Club Soda. Chris Hardwick, dubbed the “king of the Nerdists,” hosts Tuesday, July 23.
“Bob’s Burgers” voice artist and “The Daily Show” contributor Kristen Schaal hosts Wednesday, July 24.
Current SNL cast members Bobby “Drunk Uncle” Moynihan and Sloppy Swisher Taran “Mokiki” Killam host Thursday, July 25.
And Comedy Central’s “Roastmaster General” Jeff Ross hosts Friday, July 26.
There are two shows nightly, at 7 and 10.
Solo shows include comedian Colin Quinn, who interprets “226 years of American constitutional calamities in 70 minutes” — with commentary on everything from predator drones to the Kardashians — with his one-man show “Unconstitutional,” for three performances at the Gesu Theatre Thursday through Saturday, July 25 through 27. Tickets cost $47.
Amy Schumer, star of Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” not only shares a galas stage but her own spotlight at Metropolis Wednesday, July 24. Tickets cost $43.
Among the honorees at this year’s edition of the Just For Laughs Awards Show is “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler, who will receive the Just For Laughs Comedy Person of the Year Award on Friday, July 26, at the Hyatt Regency. Tickets cost $51.
There’s lots of free fun to be had at the festival, too, complete with roving street performers; plenty of parades; and “Bouffons Montreal,” a popular new fest feature of 42 culinary food trucks with everything from dim sum to tacos, pulled pork to duck confit poutine.
The outdoor activities take place at Place des Festivals downtown near Place des Arts through Sunday, July 28. The complete schedule and tickets are available on the Just For Laughs website at www.hahaha.com.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.