Laff-It-Off opened to a near capacity audience at the Ann Johnson Auditorium at St Gabriel’s School last Saturday night. The expected opening night glitches notwithstanding, patrons were in stitches from start to finish, and by half-time tales were being told of how many tissues people had gone through and the extent of the belly hurt. By the usual Laff-It-Off standards the first half was not as hard-hitting, but the second half more than made up for it. Those who follow the production know that adjustments are standard, and inside information suggests some changes have already been made. Fans would have been in for better “laffs” when the show continued last night. Troy Special Harper and Leon Phillips are out; Ishiaka McNeil and Simon Alleyne are back. Along with regular cast members Peta Alleyne, Toni-Ann Johnson and Chrispen Hackett, they brought the “laffs” to the responsive audience. Simon, who appeared in the 2008 edition of Laff-It-Off, was an immediate hit. He fit in with the cast beautifully and had himself quite a few fans by the end of the night. In fact, he is the central character in two of the better scenes in the production and does an impressive job with the two characters he plays. The Nook And Cranny Bar has been transformed into a wellness centre and is known as the NC Shore WC for the 2013 edition of Laff-It-Off. Detoxifying the body with various oils and other treatments is just one way members of the cast Come Clean in the production. A brilliant impersonation of the Minister of Education, the Duguid outburst in the House of Assembly, a tribute of sorts to Anthony Gabby Carter, who was conferred with an honorary doctorate by the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, the tale of Another Myrie, some wellness centre mishaps, a fitness showdown and a visit from super hero Trident Man were some of the many skits that kept the audience well entertained. So humourous was the production that the cast was forced to delay the action on stage a few times to allow the laughter to subside and the audience to settle down before proceeding. Glimpses of the talent of the “newish” kid on the block were seen at every appearance, but it really shone through when he played the embattled Jeff Broomes in the hot seat at a commission of inquiry. He stoutly defended how a maths teacher could teach English and why teachers without training should be hired. The crowning moment came when he shed tears. But given the character of the man, even when it seemed like his back was against the wall he stood his ground and declared: “I did it my way!” His vocal ability is nothing to sneeze at either. Simon was on point again when he played Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. He appeared to be dreaming, during which he said he would call the election when he was ready. He was awakened by a familiar person from beyond who passed through, wings and all, to check on certain people and things and to see if Stuart could be coerced into calling the election. One can always expect something memorable from seasoned actress and long-standing cast member Peta. This year it is a confessional. There is nothing quite like the thought of imminent death, when pains hit in the wee hours of the morning, for people to start admitting things to God and asking for forgiveness. The things she confesses to and the way she does it is side-splitting, but the cause of the pain and the method of release take it over the top. These scenes and much more are in Laff-If-Off 2013 – Come Clean every Saturday and Sunday.