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JFL Vancouver Returns With Big Names and Uncut Gems

Our picks of the festival don't need a laugh track but we thought an introduction might help. 

by Lukas Purm

Western Canada’s largest comedy festival JFL Vancouver returns Feb. 16 to 25 with a weight that only the Just For Laughs name carries, featuring world class performers across a spectrum of backgrounds, flavours, careers, and formats. Beyond the big names, which include Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, and Jonathan Van Ness, the lineup bursts with true comedy festival spirit and a chance to discover some hidden treasures in the process. If only someone could find the lost map.

If you’re looking for real treasure — we’re talking about the uncut gems who possess that raw comedic power — you’re in luck. We’ve created a list of comedians we guarantee you’ll be raving about to coworkers the next day by the proverbial water cooler. And everyone knows that retelling all the hilarious jokes you heard the night before is a sure way to win new friends at the office. 

So choose your own adventure, circle the day, arrive on time, and get ready to celebrate these revelations of a new wave in comedy. Most importantly, don’t forget to laugh!

Steph Tolev

Equal parts daring and darling, unshaken and unfiltered, Steph Tolev is a double shot of your older cousin’s coolest friend the parents warned you about, yet secretly wanted to drink with. Chill twist! She spent a chunk of 2022 as the opener for Bill Burr’s arena tour, including a stop in her hometown of Toronto. 

Thursday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. | TICKETS

Joe Pera 

Soothing like unlimited hits of the snooze button and smoother than cashew butter, Joe Pera is a late night (Conan, Colbert) stand up comic in his 30s who might be the world’s youngest senior citizen. This humorous slow cooker makes you forget the fast food world outside so that you can focus on what really matters. You’ll just have to see him to find out what that is.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 9:00 p.m. | TICKETS


Bassem Youssef

Satire this sharp never met a dull moment, which is no surprise when you know of Youssef’s first career as a heart surgeon. The Egyptian government fainted so hard they once arrested and fined him E£50 million. Overcoming the stress that followed such a dramatic trail of events, Youssef was named on Time’s 100 Most Influential List. Beat that. 

Thursday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. | TICKETS


Dave Merheje: My Dear Anxiety

Manic. Vulnerable. Heartfelt.  Merheje’s life experience recalls humble origins from Windsor, Ontario, with family tales reminiscent of our own lives. World class comedy only hints at this bright talent. He also has a starring role in the upcoming film Sometimes, I Think About Dying (with Daisy Ridley), an official 2023 Sundance selection. 

Thursday, Feb. 16, 9:00 p.m. | TICKETS


Darcy & Jer IRL

Ever spar with your spouse? IKR. While they post every chore and grocery run to the delight of 3.3M subs?  FFS! TikTok’s funniest couple, Vancouver’s Darcy Michael (10 JFL galas) and hubby of 18 years Jeremy Baer, finally share their adorable marriage on stage. So good, so extra, just don’t touch IRL! 

Friday, Feb. 17, 6:00 p.m. | TICKETS


Baron Vaughn

A regular on Conan, Fallon and Ferguson, Vaughn’s superpower expresses his inner child navigating adult reality, curiously joking about the moment he wakes until wee hours of night. The type of personality entire house parties gravitate towards in the kitchen, your FOMO is legit around this people’s champ.

Friday, Feb. 17, 9:00 p.m. | TICKETS


Comedy Bucket Hosted by Gina Harms

Unpredictable and 100% audience interactive! Hosted by charming and funny Edmonton transplant/Vancouver regular Gina Harms. Comedians pull audience ideas from a bucket and craft humor on the spot. Some make magic, some make a mess. Top comics mop the mess into magic. 

Thursday, Feb. 16, 8:00 p.m. | TICKETS