Britcom Gala Just For Laughs, Theatre Saint-Denis, Montreal

3.00

A bout of prostatitis prevented John Cleese from hosting this showcase for UK talent at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. The British comedy icon was due to be one of the event's big draws, along with the US stars Bill Cosby and Whoopi Goldberg, before illness struck and hospitalised him, although he is due to make a rescheduled appearance before the festival ends.

The British contingent carried on regardless, but inevitably reference was made to the ex-Python's absence. The show's announcer took care to note the irony of the new host's origins: "Your host of tonight's Britcom Gala, please welcome from Silver Spring, Maryland, Lewis Black."

Opening the showcase, Brit Mark Watson used the Cleese no-show to embroider his early routines, remarking: "It's good if your expectations are not too high... Canadians seem to have a similar world view to the British, which is 'it will probably be shit, but let's hope for the best'."

Similarly downbeat musings were on the mind of British-Nigerian comic Gina Yashere, who imagined her mother's thought processes as she was making the decision to leave Nigeria for the UK: "Where shall I go? You know what? I am fed up of all this sun, I want to go somewhere with a lot of drizzle and subtle racism."

Subtlety is not a word you could apply to Jimmy Carr, though straightforward is. "My name is Jimmy Carr and here are my jokes" is all you will get by way of scene-setting before an armoury of one-liners is unloaded. Tonight's selection included: "You know you're old when you're watching porn and you're thinking 'that bed looks comfy' "; "Most people who have cosmetic surgery are disappointed by the results, but they always look pleasantly surprised"; and an attempt at the shortest possible joke with "Dwarf shortage."

Next came Ross Noble who bounded on stage to do his bit of trademark lunacy, remarking "it's always nice to see that half of you are thinking 'he's funny' and the other half are thinking 'do you think he's dangerous?' Considering that, as one fellow comic put it, it takes Noble 10 minutes to say hello, he made the most of a slot that was not much longer. His set included the best reference to the absent host, imagining him rushed to hospital and undergoing the Dead Parrot sketch all over again: " 'This comedian's dead!' 'No he's not, he's resting.' 'Look, he just moved!' 'No, you defibrillated him.' "

The sketch troupe Idiots of Ants, Fringe favourites and darlings of YouTube, also did well in front of the live audience for this to-be-televised show, in particular with a skit where all four of the group serenade one female audience member.

The Scottish-Asian comedian Danny Bhoy, about to film his own special with the cable channel Comedy Central, closed the show with a tight set that included a routine likening the sound of his cat vomiting to techno music.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there