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Irish comic kicks up fest

Tiernan let 'Loose' on Just for Laughs

TORONTO — The 23rd Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal is kicking into full gear with an array of international talent.

Irish comic Tommy Tiernan has created the biggest buzz so far — the seven perfs of his one-man show “Loose” sold out after the first night on Monday.

“Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision as to who to put in that slot,” said fest chief operating officer Bruce Hills of the coveted one-man show slot. “We expected a lot from it. But Tommy’s got a voice that’s distinct and original, and that’s what we wanted.”

“It’s been great to come to a city as tolerant and loving as Montreal and to blaspheme and curse and harangue and be like a monkey on cheap speed,” said Tiernan, who wants to tour North America with “Loose” rather than ink a TV deal. Other head-turners have been Judy Gold’s one-woman show “G-d Doesn’t Pay Rent Here,” and the North American debut of Australian newcomer Jim Jeffrey, the closing act for “The Nasty Show,” which ran July 12 to 17.

Going behind the scenes in TV, fest on Saturday and Sunday will feature Q&A panels from writers and performers on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and a live performance of an episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

“Everyone’s always curious about how we put the show together,” said “Daily Show” reporter Samantha Bee. “People don’t believe the people we talk to are real people, but they absolutely are real. Where would you find actors who were that good?”

The industry presence at the festival is up 15% this year with 400 execs, with an uptick in scouting for scripted comedy, reality hosts and animation casting. Hills noted that since most execs arrived Wednesday, word of inked deals isn’t out yet.

The English-language portion of Just for Laughs wraps Sunday. Fest wraps July 31.

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