COMEDY - Just For Laughs - If laughter is the best medicine, what is the disease? The annual chuckle carnival is under way in Montreal, with the big-name galas ready to roll next week. Headliners include the likable Irishman Tommy Tiernan, the acerbic Lewis Black, the young curmudgeon Bill Burr, the hockey-puck-insult icon Don Rickles and the actor-comedian Seth Rogen. They each have unique approaches, but for malaise, caffeine withdrawal or an acute endorphin deficiency, doctors are in the house. (To July 28, Montreal) Brad Wheeler
MUSIC - Newport Folk Festival - In 1959, the Newport Folk Festival was founded, and perhaps the completely unknown Bob Dylan plugged in an electric toothbrush for the very first time. History views the former as significant and the latter as dubious. Dylan will not appear at this year’s event at Fort Adams State Park in Rhode Island, but Jack White, who has been dubbed by Rolling Stone magazine as “rock ’n’ roll’s Willy Wonka,” will. Perhaps he will shock the world by going acoustic. Or perhaps the world has been shocked enough, and all that is needed from the musicians at Newport this year is a diversion to soften the ride. (July 25 to 17, Newport, R.I.) B.W.
FILM - Hercules - Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson suits up and puffs out for the latest in a long line of Hercules retellings, this one lensed by fellow musclehead Brett Ratner. “Having endured his legendary twelve labours, the Greek demigod has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord,” doth quote the studio summary. For his part, Johnson also endured a brutal diet and training regimen he surely would not wish on his worst enemy. (July 25) Maggie Wrobel
BOOKS - Jane Urquhart - If you should ever find yourself in beautiful Port Medway, N.S., consider yourself lucky. Should you find yourself there today, consider yourself doubly so, for you’ll have the chance to see one of Canada’s most celebrated writers, Jane Urquhart, read at the Port Medway Readers’ Festival. The fest, founded by Torontonians Cynthia Wine and Philip Slayton, who spend much of their year in the village, is designed to let readers get up close and personal with some of Canada’s finest scribes. And if that’s not enough to convince you, the $15 ticket includes supper afterward. (July 19) Jared Bland (Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
TELEVISION - Amazing Race Canada - Last week’s episode of the second season of the hugely popular travel reality contest took place in one of the country’s most beautiful places: Tofino, B.C. If you missed the fishy action, you can see the full-length episode at ctv.ca, but what’s really recommended are the online-only video extras that capture the drama (and beauty) of the big-paying competition perfectly. Kissing a fish? That’s nothing. (Next episode: CTV, July 29, 9 p.m.) M.W. (Mark ONeill/CTV)