Standup comic Paul Provenza has been part of the Montreal Just for Laughs lineup a dozen times and even taped two episodes of his Showtime series "The Green Room With Paul Provenza" during last year's fest. Here are a few of Provenza's favorite places in the city to be a comedian.
Hyatt Regency Montreal hotel bar
1255 Rue Jeanne-Mance
At the official hotel for Just for Laughs, the bar is where all the comics and industry dealmakers in attendance hang out. "Comedians come up with funny stuff together," Provenza says, "and see friends they haven't seen in 10 years, because that's what happens when you're a road comic. Agents and managers are talking to acts, so there's a little bit of deal-making here and there. In a lot of ways, it's what you want it to be. It's all there."
1238 Rue Bishop
ComedyWorks hosts several Just for Laughs shows throughout the festival. Provenza loves the intimate second-floor showroom, but his favorite spot is way offstage. "You walk up the stairs and out the doorway onto the fire escape," Provenza says, "and that's where a bunch of comedians are smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. I have spent entire nights just hanging out on that metal staircase and balcony behind the ComedyWorks. I love it. It's real working comics of all different stages and levels of achievement and fame, just hanging out and talking."
Provenza recorded two episodes of "The Green Room" here last year, and he's returning to the venue with "Set List" in 2012. The front room of this small theater space will become the ultimate late-night JFL hangout when Provenza turns it into an exclusive lounge for comics and their guests.
74 Fairmount West
Provenza says that along with "poutine" -- that French-Canadian dish of fries, cheese, and gravy -- visitors to Montreal need to try the bagels. Fairmount makes his favorites. "Montreal bagels are fantastic," Provenza says. "They're actually kind of sweet. A New York bagel and a Montreal bagel are different. It's like Chicago pizza and New York pizza. You can't compare them."
Daniel Lehman is a staff writer at Back Stage. Follow him on Twitter: @byDanLehman