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Aziz Ansari, Judd Apatow Among Honorees at Just For Laughs Awards

Tough audiences, camaraderie with fellow comedians, and poutine were the hot topics at the Just For Laughs Awards presented by Air Canada on Friday. Awards were presented to five big comedy names in attendance and hosted by J. B. Smoove, who praised the genre, noting, “Any time you can make people laugh is a blessing. This is what the world needs right now.”

Things kicked off with John Mulaney, who had to follow the energetic Smoove, quipped, “I would give anything to have a personality.” Mulaney presented the Comedy Writers of the Year Award to “Silicon Valley” creators and scribes Mike Judge and Alec Berg. Mulaney read testimonies from the duo’s comedy friends that were more of a roast than tribute, such as Bill Hader’s joke, “They’re like hanging out with the brothers from ‘Rain Man’ if Tom Cruise also had autism.”

Berg noted that when they heard about the award, “We were a little disappointed. We thought it would be one of those shows where we get all dressed up and someone else wins.” But when they were told they had already won, he said, “We were disappointed. What’s the point… you can’t look down at all the losers and make them humiliated and ashamed.”

Judge pointed out that there was another award for Comedy Person of the Year coming up, separate from their Comedy Writers of the Year award, “which kind of implies writers aren’t people.”

Said Comedy Person of the Year was Sebastian Maniscalco, whose award was presented by fellow comic Pete Correale. Maniscalco recalled when he first came to Just For Laughs in 2004. “I would do laps around the bar, hoping somebody would notice,” he admitted. Among the people he thanked was his father, who gave a unique kind of encouragement to work harder by reminding him that “People aren’t going to come back to see the same s—t.”

Jackie Kashian presented Breakout Comedy Star of the Year to Maria Bamford. Kashian recalled first seeing Bamford’s work as a stand-up, saying, “It was interesting, it was unique, it was weird as f—k.”

Bamford currently stars on the Netflix comedy “Lady Dynamite,” which is loosely based on her life and battle with bipolar disorder. Bamford spoke about returning to the world of comedy after some time away. “It is hilarious I had a mental breakdown four years ago and I didn’t think I could do standup,” she said, quipping, “Many people think I don’t do standup.”

“Knocked Up” and “Trainwreck” director Judd Apatow was presented with the Generation Award by Andy Dick, who he first met when they worked together on “The Ben Stiller Show.” Upon accepting his award, Apatow joked, “A standing ovation might have been meaningful. Maybe next time.”

Apatow revealed that his daughter Maude was in the audience and he did his best to embarrass her by pointing her out. He added that she is his best critic: “Maude does not think I’m funny. Every time I try a joke out on her she’s like, ‘Are you gonna say that? Don’t say that!’”

Finally, Nick Kroll was on hand to present the Comedy Person of the Year Award to Aziz Ansari, creator and star of Netflix’s “Master of None.” Kroll recalled being backstage at UCB in 2003 and witnessing a young Indian standup killing — he then joked the comic was Fisher Stevens. “But Aziz was the next comic… and he was fine.”

Ansari was the only honoree to not show a clip package, noting “I hate watching myself.” He also teased the event planners for making the honorees sit on stage for the entire show, saying, “It’s the punishment for winning the award. You know how hard it is to sit up here and not look bored?”

But he had high praise of the festival, adding, “Just For Laughs is the most fun, they really treat the comedians well. Every comedian looks forward to coming to Montreal and just going apes—t, shoving poutine in their face.”

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