Canadian comedy mainstay Debra DiGiovanni and SNL alum Jim Breuer are among the acts on this year's JFL tour.
According to John Heffron, there’s one easy way to tell if the stand-ups on a comedy tour are getting along.
“When you’re in vans and stuff, nobody has their headphones on,” he says. “Everyone’s engaged in conversation.”
Judging by that criteria, he says, the comics involved in the current edition of the Just for Laughs Comedy Tour, which Heffron is hosting, are getting along famously. Chemistry is crucial, both because it enhances performances and because it helps comics maintain sanity.
“I’ve heard horror stories,” Heffron says. “Guys backstage fighting, all types of things where it’s five weeks of hating the guy you’re introducing or hating someone else on the tour. That would make for a tense green room.”
He adds that, in his opinion, the powers that be at Just for Laughs have done a great job selecting talent for this year’s tour, which features SNL alum Jim Bruer, Video on Trial‘s Debra DiGiovanni, and former 7Up spokesman Godfrey.
The tour is an extension of the Just for Laughs festival’s popular Relationship Show, which features performers with a talent for finding comedy in relationships, romantic and otherwise.
Heffron is a former Last Comic Standing winner who has two decades of comedy experience. He says hosting a show is a little different from being one of the featured comics.
“It’s a little bit of a mental shift,” he says. “You have to take the ego out of it…I do as much time as everybody else, it’s just spread out differently.”
“But I wanted to do it,” he adds. “I didn’t want the pressure of it being ‘The John Heffron Show,’ and it’s a different muscle.”
While the comics on the tour may have some material in common, Heffron says that the show’s real strength is diversity.
“Jim Breuer is just an amazing story teller,” he says. “People are peeing themselves. He’s one of those comics where you can tell, people are just like, ‘Can you let me breathe for a second?’”
Godfrey, according to Heffron, is a gifted impressionist who’s constantly working on his craft. (Apparently he spent several hours walking around a mall impersonating Bane from The Dark Knight Rises during a day off.) But Heffron says the comic who has surprised him the most so far is the lone Canadian, DiGiovanni.
“Debra DiGiovanni is incredibly nice and so funny,” he says. “She has jokes where I’m waiting for her to say them every night, and if she doesn’t, I’m disappointed…I had no idea how popular she was. We’ll be out somewhere and people, all these 20-year-old Abercrombie model-looking guys, keep coming up to her. It’s crazy.”
Even so, he admits that as much as he loves her as a comic, he still struggles to introduce her every night. Literally.
“Just once I’d like to be able to say ‘DiGiovanni’ without stumbling.”