Sid Khullar is set to make a major splash on the production side with the launch of his inaugural anglo Montreal Comedy Series festival.
Sugar Sammy (Khullar) has a younger brother named Sid set to make a name for himself on the comedy front as well.
“He calls me Spicy Sid,” notes the junior Khullar sibling.
But before getting hopes up of catching Sugar Sammy and Spicy Sid waxing irreverently together on stage, the latter has absolutely no intentions of trying to match wits with his heralded bro.
“He’s the performer in the family and I’m the producer,” explains Sid Khullar, who has been packaging comedy shows here the last three years.
Khullar is now ready to make a major splash on the production side with the launch of his inaugural anglo Montreal Comedy Series festival, starting Friday and running until Sept. 6. Quite the ambitious fest, too, with 17 shows at 10 socially distanced venues and featuring more than 100 comics. Affordable as well, with prices ranging from $5 to $20.
Among the headliners are Gino Durante, Amer Rez, Wassim El Mounzer, Daniel Tirado, Lucy Gervais, Andrew Albert and Franco Taddeo. Oh yeah, count on Sugar Sammy to drop in for some surprise visits, too.
“We can’t let audiences know in advance, otherwise there would be a thousand people at the door and our club spaces are limited to 35 to 45 people because of distancing rules,” Khullar says. “But he has always come to do surprise sets at my shows, often lasting an hour.“
The series is intended to be a celebration of the local anglo comedy scene.
“I believe our comics can go head to head with the best anywhere in the world,” Khullar says. “We had lots of requests from out-of-town comics to appear, but we felt we could pull it off well just with locals.”
Khullar initially wanted to do the festival last year, but he was sidetracked when he and his wife had a baby. Then he had planned to go ahead in June, but he was sidetracked then by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were going to postpone it again until next year, but we felt that with local venues, local comics and the entertainment scene in general in need of a real boost, we wanted to give it a go now,” Khullar says. “Besides, we can all use the laughs at this time, too.”
Khullar has been building up to this festival by staging smaller events the last two months.
“The response has been good, and people have felt comfortable, seeing that we were taking all safety precautions seriously. We have had no issues so far and we’re getting a lot of return clients coming in, because the product is strong.”
One of the comedians Khullar is particularly high on is Rez, who will be performing Saturday at Rosewood and Sept. 6 at McKibbins and hosting Sept. 1 at Melrose, Sept. 2 at Rosewood and Sept. 6 at Brass Door.
“He is hilarious and also quite the story,” Khullar says.
To say the least.
Rez has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Polytechnique Montréal. But he decided to give all that up plus a six-figure salary for chump change in the chuckles trade. Needless to say, Rez’s decision initially left his parents pulling out their hair.
“I got my degrees and achieved one of the highest levels in engineering someone can achieve in this field,” Rez says.
And when he says “highest,” he’s not kidding.
“I sent satellites into space,” points out the Beirut-born Rez. “But my dream has always been to be a comic, and the same intense work I had to put in as an engineer, I’ve had to do as a comedian.”
His humour entails, not surprisingly, much material about his still shell-shocked family and Montreal.
“When I was a young boy in Beirut and my father told me we were moving to an island, I had visions of going to some tropical paradise,” Rez recalls.
“But when I woke up after the flight, I found myself in a traffic jam on the Décarie Expressway in the middle of winter on this island called Montreal. Not what I had fantasized. And who knew that snow was grey?”
The Montreal Comedy Series runs Friday to Sept. 6. Information: mtlseries.com
Montreal may not welcome the chuckle-inducing Just For Laughs festival this summer, but a whole lot of laughs are still on their way to the city.
The Montreal Comedy Series, a nine-day, 15-show stand-up festival, kicks off at the end of August and will keep rolling (maybe even on the floor) until September 6.
The shows are in English and feature a bevy of local comics including Harrison Weinreb, Kris Dulgar, Daniel Trado, Ev Lit, Victoria Blair, Peter Bowwm, Joey Laflamme, Abbie Stonehouse, and many more.
Shows are split up around dozens of venues around the city, including Griffintown’s Lord William Pub, Old Montreal’s Rosewood, downtown’s Peroni, Brass Door Pub, Melrose, Pub St-Paul, and others.
Event organizers say various COVID-19 health precautions have been put in place in all participating venues including keeping table six feet apart, having hand sanitizers throughout the rooms, wearing face masks while unseated, and all the clubs are functioning at a limited capacity.
Depending on the size of the venue, 30 to 50 people will be allowed inside, says the festival’s organizer, Sid Khullar.
In an email with Daily Hive, Khullar says the Montreal Comedy Series was launched in order to “get the scene started in the city again.” He says the festival will give “Montrealers something to smile about during a time when we all need it,” and says the 15-show event will help to fill the seats at struggling venues throughout the city.
All shows have varying start times ranging from 8 pm to 9 pm and will be presented in English only.
For a full list of venues, prices, comedians, tickets, and which venues will be serving food, visit the Montreal Comedy Series website.
The inaugural festival runs from August 28 to September 6.
Over the last few months, Montreal's stalwart comedians have been keeping the funny alive with long-distance Zoom shows. It's been encouraging to see how important stand-up has remained during the health crisis but for audiences, and the artists who need them, internet-based performances do not cut the mustard. But now, after months of live-streamed stand-up, you'll finally be able to laugh alongside other members of a live audience for a change at the Montreal Comedy Series.
Over nine days, about 100 local comedians — from feisty up-and-comers to grizzled veterans — will perform at a number of venues around the city from August 28 to September 6.
The 15 shows will feature talented local funny people Gino Durante, Daniel Tirado, Andrew Albert, Michelle Dominique, Amer Rez, Lucy Gervais, Wassim El Mounzer, Yannick Dotes, Will Del Vecchio and many others.
The price of a ticket varies from $5 to $20.
The first-ever edition of the Montreal Comedy Series was very close to being cancelled, said festival organizer Sid Khullar.
Khullar had originally scheduled the event for June and was planning to delay the festival until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic but now he's decided to give it the old college try.
"With venues and live entertainment needing a push in the right direction we decided to give it a go with less than a month to organize the entire festival," he said.
The shows will be performed at a number of popular venues around the city including Mckibbins Irish Pub, Brass Door Pub, Lord William Pub, the Rosewood, and others.
"We like to think we're taking audience members on an adventure through Montreal to our favourite venues where they can enjoy laughs curated by the city's best comedians," said Khullar.
On August 28, the festival will launch with a bit of risqué humour at the Rosewood Pub and Restaurant with a show called "Get F*cked" which will feature comedians sharing stories about how life "did them dirty for better or worse."
MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – A new festival is hoping to reboot the comedy scene in Montreal, which was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first edition of Montreal Comedy Series is a collection of 17 in-person and socially distanced shows over a nine-day period.
The festival ends Sept. 6.
“With live entertainment not on people’s minds, we needed something to help grow the comedy scene back,” said festival founder Sid Khullar. “Or close to where it once was.”
The various venues hosting the comedy shows – mostly bars and restaurants in the downtown area – are implementing safety measures to comply with public-health recommendations: tables six feet apart, hand sanitizer stations, mandatory masks for staff, and restricted capacity.
Montreal Comedy Series will showcase more than 100 comedians like Amer Rez, Michelle Dominique and Harrison Weinreb – all Montrealers.
“We would rather book local comedians, since we can showcase talent from the city,” said Khullar. “And we wouldn’t want out-of-town comedians travelling into the city if it’s not essential.”
Khullar says the response from comedy fans in the city has so far been “overwhelming.”
Montreal comedy fans, rejoice! Live stand-up comedy in a festival setting is back, as a brand new comedy festival is born. The Montreal Comedy Series, scheduled to run from August 28 to September 6, is an English-language festival that will feature nine days filled with 15 comedy shows performed by 100 comedians from the local comedy scene in nine intimate venues across the downtown area.
Some of the comedians scheduled to perform at the Montreal Comedy Series include Franco,Tadseo, Emile Khoury, Gino Durante, Josh Shapiro, Viveth K, Michelle Dominique, Zack Kik and Caroline Piche. Some of the festival’s thematic shows include the Future Comedy All Stars, Montreal’s Got Jokes, Comedy Rebels, Comedy Legends and Future Comedy Legends, and Raw Stand Up Comedy.
Please note that all festival shows will have the doors open two hours prior to showtime, with COVID-19 safety measures such as hand sanitizer and tables placed six feet apart are going to be implemented.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.montrealcomedyseries.com.
The COVID-19 pandemic has halted the regular bustle of Montreal life, and with it, halted its entertainment industry. Cirque du Soleil was forced to lay off95 per cent of its staff; music festivals, including Osheaga and Ilesoniq, were postponed; and even the world-famous comedy festival, Just For Laughs, was delayed and moved online. Montreal’s comedy scene has been equally impacted: In fact, it initially ceased altogether. As the lockdown and public health restrictions led to cancellations of every comedy event, Montreal, for the first time in a while, wasn’t laughing.
In the early days of quarantine, performers and producers of local comedy shows were forced to adapt to new public health regulations. Large audiences could no longer gather in small bars, and those who braved social distancing had to wear masks and allow for venues to be sanitized between performances. Essentially, in-person shows went on a break.
Some attempted to join the ranks of entertainers around the world by performing on Zoom. While these efforts were commendable, a key aspect of stand-up comedy remained missing: A visible audience. Comedy show producer Sid Khullar described the connection between performers and their audiences as integral to the success of a show.
“You want comedy that you can enjoy with other people,” Khullar said. “The audience [is] pretty much on mute. So even if you have 100 people on mute you can’t really see what’s happening [….] There’s a disconnect.”
As public health restrictions gradually lifted, Montreal’s comedy shows only slowly returned. Producers organized outdoor shows in parks and backyards that respected new health guidelines. Khullar even decided to run his new festival, the Montreal Comedy Series, under socially distant conditions. He pointed out that especially with the postponement of Just For Laughs, the city’s comedy shows needed to gain momentum.
“Every year, when JFL does their festival, the rest of the comedy scene gets […] a little push from them,” Khullar said. “Comedy is no longer in the back of people’s minds.”
Despite the uncertainty and fear that the pandemic brought, Montreal’s comedy scene has endured. Months of quarantine and logistical challenges may have discouraged comedians and producers at first, but ultimately led to a boom in creative solutions. Zoom shows, outdoor venues, distanced festivals, podcasts, and sketch videos all continue to engage audiences in one way or another, showcasing Montreal creatives’ renewed inspiration for comedy. The city’s community proved that while the coronavirus may persist, so does the resilient spirit of Montreal’s comedy scene. Sid Khullar’s upcoming comedy events can be found on Mtlcomedyclub.com.
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