Le Petit Bon Bon

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montreal comedyIt's dreary and rainy today in Montreal, giving the scores of Just for Laughs talent, industry and fans an excuse to get some much needed rest before the gamut of shows and beers begins anew tonight.

The English-speaking portion of the 25-year-old festival, which runs through Sunday 22, just got into full swing Tuesday night. But, of the dozens of show options, I think I've already seen the funniest (check back daily for confirmation).

As much as I advocate vulnerability onstage, I was howling at David Cross's tongue-in-cheek impression of a "typical" Montreal resident during last night's sketch revue.

He and Bob Odenkirk are hosting the Lineup, a collection of performances by various young troupes; it's also the stand-up-heavy festival's first foray into sketch showcases. New York groups Hot Sauce, the Buffoons, and Kurt and Kristen all had strong performances, as did L.A. duo Karla (which also managed to exemplify some of that rare earnestness).

Additionally, two talents were exemplified via video. The absurd premises of Leon and Andy from L.A. worked well in the medium (Tito Puento's skeleton doesn't have enough cell-phone minutes for you to call his grave willy-nilly), and the Straitjackets from the U.K. used their allotted time to create a melange of short intelligent films, including a very funny office skit about an employee who's fired for being a "font perve."

But the highlight of the show happened when Odenkirk welcomed "an actual person from the audience, from Montreal," to the stage for a chat. Cue Cross wearing a garish red-and-white-striped shirt, orange hat, and carrying a dozen colorful helium-filled balloons. He jumps onstage, skipping and dancing. And when Odenkirk asks his name, he responds in high-pitched, falsetto, "Le Petit Bon Bon!" and then, slowly, preciously falls asleep, cheek in hands.

Sure, the aesthetic of ironic comedy is wearing thin, but there's never been anything wrong with a little bit of caricature.

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