With all of the DJs killing it seven nights a week in Montreal’s clubs, it can be easy to forget about Montreal’s comedy scene. But if you look around a bit, you can see the hilarious performers who keep it thriving without paying too much.
Check out our list of venues with cheap or free comedy shows and save your money for beer.
The Blue Dog Motel
3958 Boulevard St-Laurent
Comedy Night: Mondays
It’s one of the most popular dance clubs on St. Laurent most nights of the week, but on Monday nights it turns into one of the city’s only pure comedy open mics. It’s free regardless of whether you perform or just watch.
This bar is mostly known for their 10 litre beer towers, but they also host the popular Macsimum Comedy Open Mic Night upstairs in the Mac Lounge on Sundays. It’s free both for performers and attendees.
Come out to Grumpy’s on Tuesday nights for Drop the Gloves, the bar’s open mic night. Drop the Gloves showcases all sorts of talents, so you won’t just see comedians, but you’re sure to see something entertaining. There’s no cover charge regardless of whether or not you perform.
There are many great reasons to check out L’Escalier, including the delicious vegetarian food and solid beer selection, but Tuesdays you can come to check out their awesome open mic. It’s not just limited to comedians, and you’ll see performers of all sorts at the show. It’s free for performers and audience members.
Check out Montreal Improv to see some of the best improv comedy in the city. Prices vary depending on the night, but you’ll almost never pay more than $8 for a set. Many nights, there’ll be at least one free show.
This spot is one of the better known comedy venues in Montreal, and they host two different open mic nights every week. On Tuesdays, come on out for Newbie Tuesday, and watch rookies give standup a stab. Wednesday nights are reserved for their Pro-Am Open Mic, where vets and amateurs alike are welcome to perform. Either way, it’s $5 if you come to watch, and free if you’re brave enough to get on stage.
You can see some of the best comedians in the world here, but come on out on Mondays to see their open mic. You’ll catch amateurs making their first try at standup, as well as seasoned pros testing out new material. It’s $5 plus a one drink minimum if you just come to be in the audience, and free if you perform.
Sunday nights at M Bar belong to Comedy Hostel, a collection of some of the best pro and semi-pro comics in Montreal. Shows start at 8:15 and admission is pay-what-you-can, but the group suggests a donation of $8-10. With all of the great comedy you’ll get and a $10pitchers Happy Hour, any price in that range is a steal.
Francophone fans of comedy need not despair, because Fridays at Brasserie des Patriotes are for you. Their Les Vendredis Homa Fait Rire night showcases the best French-speaking comedians in town testing out new material. It’s just $5 to get in.
Montreal's own Eve Parker Finley is one of these stars, but the artist and emerging comedic talent is anything but unassuming.
Combined, her TikTok and Instagram accounts boast over 15,000 devoted fans.
Her videos satirize everything from the 'Bonjour-Ho' fiasco to third-wave baristas and say what we're all thinking — that sometimes, living in Montreal is just too absurd to be true.
MTL Blog spoke with Finley about her videos and what's in store for her growing legion of fans.
Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
Why do you think parody is an effective way to address some of the current events in Montreal?
People laugh at comedy for a bunch of reasons, but one of the reasons that are really powerful is when they feel like they see themselves represented in a way that feels really true but also kind of absurd.
There was a really big trend of satirical parody comedy in the 2000s... Recently in the late 2010s during the Trump era, parody is difficult to do because things are just so f*cked.
You don't even have to make it fantastical. It's actually just sort of speaking the truth back to the audience.
I just wanted to create stuff that's very based on my own life and my own communities. And I think people have been responding to it really positively, which is amazing.
What are your favourite videos that you’ve done so far?
I love "Ontario girls in first year," that is a character that is definitely gonna be seen more in 2021.
A lot of these characters don't seem like real people to me that will continue living on but I'm gonna spend time thinking about them a little bit more because I wanna develop some things for the new year.
I think the one that I've had the most fun playing with is the "gross boy" character that's based on a lot of my experiences dating men.
It was really cathartic and funny to create a character from that. That's the one that kinda started at all, I feel.
I want my videos to be spontaneous. I think that's the cool thing about the medium of like TikTok and Instagram is like, yes the internet is forever but it's ephemeral — it comes and goes, it gives you like a brief moment of joy.
I think that's a fun playground to play in.
What’s next for Eve Parker Finley?
I feel like my relationship with social media used to be that I wanted to do it to connect with the community and also promote my music. And then this whole comedy angle has kind of grown into its own branch of what I like to do.
All the things that I do, the music that I make, the comedy I make, the things I film — I see them all as part of the same, artistic mission around creating stuff for people that makes them feel seen or makes them laugh, makes them cry, makes them feel things.
Get ready to laugh. Just For Laughs is leaning into its pandemic comedy game. The organization has just revealed the first slate of comedians for its first-ever online festival, which takes place between October 9 and 10 and there are some heavy hitters.
They include Howie Mandel, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars winner Trixie Mattel, Emmy award nominee Amber Ruffin, Tasmania's own Hannah Gadsby, the hilarious Jo Koy, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, funny person Tituss Burgess, Canadian comedy stalwart DeAnne Smith, and others.
The two-day comedy event will feature over 100 artists and admission is completely free.
"We are very proud to offer this special edition in an optimized free edition format, enabling us to do what we do best, curating and creating the best of comedy, while making it more accessible than ever, to all fans across the globe," reads a statement from Charles Décarie, president and CEO of the Just for Laughs Group.
"We are truly able to deliver a festival that lives up to Just For Laughs standards."
Décarie stated he's hopeful the festival will "be back in a big way in 2021 with exciting plans for the comedy fans and industry who travel to join us every summer."
After the pandemic dropped, Just For Laughs worked hard to reorganize the festival for a digital audience and, needless to say, it will look very different this year.
The 2020 edition will more resemble a giant Zoom meeting with breakout groups, panels and live discussions "designed specifically for online audiences," than a traditional comedy festival, reads the statement.
For example, on October 10 you'll be able to join a live conversation with the top four finalists from Canada's Drag Race: JIMBO, Rita Baga, Scarlett Bobo, and Canada's first drag superstar, Priyanka.
But don't worry because they'll also be plenty of straight up standup as well.
This year, the festival is partnering with well-known comedian Kevin Hart's global comedy brand, Laugh Out Loud (LOL).
LOL's experiential division, which is called LOL X, will serve as the official programming partner for the festival and will host its very own comedy room, which will celebrate comedians of colour.
The room will feature a mix of live standup performances, virtual panel discussions, and other fun stuff.
"Our goal with the Just For Laughs Festival is to really engage with the global comedy community, and have some important discussions regarding big societal issues in a way that's still entertaining, with comedic relief provided by some of today's brightest comedy stars," said Bruce Hills, president of Just For Laughs in the statement.
"I could not be more honoured that Kevin Hart's LOL is our official programming partner."
You may think that Canada can be pretty lame and depressing sometimes, but the truth is that we are among 10 of the happiest countries in the world! According to National Geographic, Canada is a great place to live and it even ranks higher than Australia and the Netherlands!
National Geographic talks about how Canada has "plenty to explore" and is so "culturally diverse" which is hard to argue against. I can see why everyone must be so happy, I mean we get a taste of all four seasons and have the opportunity to see so many beautiful and natural sites.
The truth is that Canada is ranked the 6th happiest country in the world out of 10 surpassing the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Denmark but not quite happy enough to pass Finland, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark.
That makes Canada basically the only other country on the list other than Australia that isn't from Europe! Obviously Canada has its ups and downs but I can honestly say that I am not that surprised about our high levels of happiness!