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article imageReview: Emo Philips doesn’t go for easy laughs at Montreal comedy fest Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 3, 2016 in Entertainment
Emo Philips delivered a night of thoughtful comedy at Just for Laughs in Montreal, marking his 40th year in the business of making people laugh… eventually.
There are undoubtedly different types of comedy that appeal to different people. Some have more limited audiences than others, whether it’s because of unshared politics, a distaste for raunchy humour or jokes that require too much thought. While there are comedians that integrate all of these styles, Emo Philips leans towards the latter, much like Andy Kaufman. Playing a darkened, small venue at Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival, the audience often found themselves mulling over a joke as he transitioned to the next.
Philips has performed more than 6000 times over 40 years and he has a bit of a unique act: he speaks in somewhat of a high-pitched voice, appears erratic and disorganized, and moves or fidgets constantly. However even though the jokes he tells more or less follow the standard build-up-punch-line format, it’s the content that frequently requires a little more thought. He’s not particularly interested in only amusing the common denominator, but engaging his audience in the show. Unfortunately, as a result it appears some of his jokes fall flat when in actuality the laughter is simply delayed until the mind has a moment to process it.
However, Philips is never discouraged by the silence, simply carrying on with the confidence that most of the audience will get it eventually — if only he could see the smiles midway through the next joke. At his Just For Laughs performance, he tried to continuously regale the audience with unusual greeting cards he wrote, but became repeatedly distracted by yet another joke. He also enjoys interacting with audience members in an awkward manner that is both persistent yet harmless. Coaxing a man to move from the back row to fill the front, while requesting a young woman help him shove folded greeting card manuscripts into his bottomless pocket are just some of his regular, strange exchanges.
More about Just for laughs, Emo Philips, Comedy, Montreal, comedy festival
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