There’s nothing much –- including pancakes -– that could have topped off the International House of Comedy show, or added any more to it than what was already included in the glorious bag of goods being sold to an eager crowd. Hosted by the venerable Craig Ferguson, he of former sitcom and current late night triumph, the gala showcased a bevy of comedians from all around the Western world. Represented boldly were Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Cleveland (which still rocks, apparently) and Ferguson’s own Scotland, which made for a night of hearty laughs and thick accents.
Kicking off the show was Fergy himself, who delivered a solid several minutes of hilarious stand-up on topics ranging from his new baby (“You know why I’m glad to be here, Montreal? Because I have a new baby at home. It screams over you and you can’t reason with it. It’s like living with Glenn Beck”) to his former drinking and drugging days (“I didn’t experiment with drugs; I did them.”) But the highlight of Ferg’s monologue arrived in the form of one Eddie Izzard, who unexpectedly showed up onstage – though not in drag – to speak a few favorable lines of his friend Craig in French.
As to the roundhouse of performers comprising the body of the show, stand out stand-ups included New Faces host Ryan Belleville, wily Brit boy Russell Howard, saucy Aussie Adam Hills, sure-footed Scot Danny Bhoy, Ohioan Randy Kagan, and lady ventriloquist Nina Conti, whose adorable monkey puppet just may have upped the ante for cloth jockeys all over the comedy world. (Your move, Jeff Dunham.) There could be no doubt that each and every performer on the bill brought their A material to the auditorium, and the crowd was pleased enough to cheer more wildly and vigorously by the show’s conclusion than perhaps at any other I’ve had the privilege of taking in this week. Keep your eye on each of the performers listed above, particularly Conti – all of the comedians were stupendous, but her schtick was bananas.