We were there: Just for Laughs, Day 1

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We're here this year for a limited time; still, there's so much to squeeze in. Here's a random collection of impressions regarding went down on Monday: 

There's an excitement and a relief being downtown in a city while a festival of this size takes over. It's exciting because there's a lot going on, and it's a relief because it's nice to be around likeminded people who love comedy as much as we do. 

One Brit whose charm does not wear off after you learn he once punched his brother in the back of the head while said brother was in a wheelchair: Russell Howard.

Comics who love words as much as Jimmy Carr does can't help but occasionally reach for what they must consider the brass ring: a pun that makes an audience roar rather than groan. Puns take work to assemble, bur for some reason, they can't help but produce eyerolls. One of Carr's attempts: "Osama bin Laden: Jihad it coming." The crowd's reaction was mixed. But we love him for trying.

We realized something about why we like Maria Bamford as much as we do. When she channels the would-be normal people in her set (e.g., her twitchy, medicated sister, the little kid next door or the female comics who talk about sex), her voice is so clear and the characters are so identifiable. She's commenting on them, yes, but moreover illustrating the ways in which her world (as wonderfully weird and occasionally depressing it might be) is much more fun to live in than their real world.

No matter how much it may make you feel like an ugly American, speaking English here is not the painful capitulation it is in France.

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