My family went on vacation last week. We went to Montreal because we wanted to out of the country, but not too far out, and we wanted to speak French, but not too much (any) French.
It’s a nice city. The metro is easy to use and if you get a hotel within a five block radius of the Place des Arts you will be able to easily walk to a lot of attractions. Food is expensive, but there are a lot of options.
Long story short: skip the Passport tickets unless you are willing to wait in line.
The Passports give you tickets to three of their “top” shows, plus a free ticket to another show every day of the festival.
The three shows we picked were (1) SPANK! The Fifty Shades of Grey Parody, (2) The Nasty Show, and (3) Date Night: The Relationship Show. Another choice was The Ethnic Show (darn, it had Gary Gulman, from Last Comic Standing, the tallest, hottest Jew there ever was), but it didn’t fit in our schedule. Also, I think you could pick The Alternative Show with Andy Kindler, but that didn’t start til after we left (story of my life).
- SPANK! was a parody musical at the Centaur Theater. The audience was 99% women and the show was 100% sex jokes. Just kidding. Like 80% sex jokes. Dildos, flashes of underwear, a lot of simulated sex. They parodied songs from Into the Woods and Thoroughly Modern Millie and “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias.
- The Nasty Show was hosted by Bobby Slayton, with Robert Kelly, Bridget Everett, Brad Williams, Big Jay Oakerson and special guest Jimmy Carr. Hannibal Buress (Metropolis shows only). It was at Club Soda (cute name). Tickets are general admission, so we got there about a half an hour early and sat in the balcony.
- Super freaking dirty. Was I with my family? Yes. Did I pretend that I wasn’t, as hard as possible? Yes. If I pretended that Harry Potter was real half as hard as I pretended I wasn’t with my parents, I would be drinking butterbeer and riding a broom right now.
- Brad Williams gives a really impressive lap dance:
- Date Night was like the Nasty Show but less raunchy. The current line-up is different from the one we saw. It was hosted by Godfrey, with Debra DiGiovanni, Robert Kelly (different set, thank god), Bob Marley, and Paul Jersey.
- Here is Godfrey from last year:
We bought our Passports really early so they mailed us tickets for the Passports. In Montreal, when I went to book the free tickets online, which you can only do starting at 10 am, I realized I didn’t know our Passport numbers and I would have had to book each ticket separately because we had four Passports (I was worried that tickets would sell out and I would have only redeemed tickets for three of us). The website was totally clogged (maybe because of people buying Dave Chappelle). I sat on the computer for a half an hour and then gave up.
Later I called customer service and waited for like 20 minutes. I would have walked to a box office, but I didn’t know where to go. I spoke to someone who gave me our Passport numbers, but, because it was almost 3 pm, the box office was closing. Which box office? Great question.
The shows are at different theaters, but at the Place des Arts there is a stage and food trucks and info booths and a box office. The next day, I waited at that office, when it opened at 2 pm, and was told I needed to go somewhere else. The next day my parents went to the other office and learned that the free tickets are only for certain shows (a few magicians, some one man shows, i think some improv groups), and not for the recognizable comedians.
Blah blah blah. We bought tickets to Maria Bamford.
I love Maria Bamford.
- She performed at the Theatre St Catherine. It was in a sketchy area (for Canada, i guess). Sex shops and burlesque shows, some homeless people. Moshe Kasher was performing right before her and the Midnight Surprise Show (you could get free tickets to that) was right after.
- It is a small venue so get there early.
- Jackie Kashian opened for her:
- Jimmy Carr and Bridget Everett were there. Omg Jimmy Carr has a distinctive laugh.
- Maria’s Homemade Christmas Special:
- Maria’s Ask My Mom series:
The day after we left, Todd Glass, Rory Scovel, and Kyle Kinane started performing. And the next week Tig Notaro, Trevor Noah, and Marc Maron were there. They don’t announce the dates until pretty close to the festival so that is kind of inconvenient if you need to book flights/hotels.
Tickets for individual standups are only like $20 (i don’t know about the “solo shows” which were for dave chappelle, bo burnham, and others, although they probably have cheap seats for those shows too).
Besides the festival…
We went to the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Olympic Stadium and the Montreal Tower, and the Biodome.
All of these were nice, but it’s not like I was paying for them. When I went to Italy my friend and I were much for picky about shelling out money for every attraction, but since this was a family vacay and this was what my parents wanted to see, I was totally game. Plus, I like art museums.
Out of all of these, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is the best. It is free, except for special exhibits ($20). The special exhibit while we were there was by Chihuly, who we had seen works by in Florida so we were psyched for that. They have four buildings connected underground. It is near Mount Royal if you want to walk up for the view.
Dale Chihuly. Sexy, huh?
The Contemporary Art Museum is good if you appreciate modern and abstract art. had a lot of installations, like a sink with water and fire coming out of the spout and a bathtub and a rubber hose that would poke out of a hole and then suck back in when you came toward it. There was a weird Lost-like movie by Eve Sussman about an astronaut in a vaguely Eastern European country who could time travel? was being spied on by the government. The movie had no running time and no order because the clips had codes and algorithms triggered a different sequence every time.
There was an exhibit of music videos such as:
The Olympic Stadium. It is an empty indoor stadium. Jeez guys, make an exhibit or show me some tv clips from the 1976 Olympics.
The Tower. Boring. But we could see our hotel.
The Biodome. Expensive and small. The insectarium and planetarium were not included in the ticket. In the Biodome (you fight to live!) there are three habitats: the rainforest, a polar environment, and a regular North American forest. The habitats are small, it takes about fifteen minutes to walk through each one. It seemed geared toward younger kids. I felt bad for the animals.
- What a nice family vacation! No one got lost or cried or committed international crimes!
- Bonjour! Hi! Everything is in deux languages! People look like thin Americans!
- I wish I had eaten poutine but it didn’t happen. Now I have an excuse to return!
- You go through customs in Canada, before you leave. And you don’t get a stamp in your passport. The airport people are nice!