Comic relief at the Royalton Riviera Cancun

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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

PUERTO MORELOS, Mexico  Two days after the presidential election, I did what many Americans have been threatening to do for months: I made a run for the border.

No, I wasn't making a political statement. I was just taking advantage of a well-timed fam to the Royalton Riviera Cancun for its second annual Just for Laughs Week, which offers a different spin on the experiential trend in upscale travel.

When the invitation first arrived, I knew it would be perfect timing no matter who won the divisive presidential election.

So while most Americans were home, watching the news about protests against president-elect Donald Trump, I was blissfully checked out, taking in magic workshops, nightly comedy shows and plenty of sun, good food and tequila.

Hosted in partnership with Just for Laughs, the brand behind the annual international Montreal Comedy Festival, the week offered  as part of the resort's all-inclusive package  different shows every night with acts including former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Finesse Mitchell; Orny Adams, co-star of Jerry Seinfeld's documentary, "Comedian"; Godfrey, as seen in "Zoolander"; Graham Chittenden of "The Match Game" and "The Debaters"; Debra DiGiovanni, who was named best female comic by the Canadian Comedy Awards; Ben Seidman, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas' resident magician and co-star of the Travel Channel's "Magic Outlaws"; Adam Ferrara, "Top Gear" host; and Yannis Pappas, host of AOL's original series "2 Point Lead."


In addition to the nightly lineups, magic shows and workshops, pranksters roamed the halls and pools throughout the week.

There was also a special in-room television channel dedicated to replays of stand-up routines from the annual Montreal festival as well as episodes of the company's shows, "Just for Laughs: Gags" and "Just Kidding."

I'm not sure if it was the election-week timing (probably not, given the large number of Canadian and European guests), luck, the beginning of high season or a large contingent of comedy fans, but the 800-plus room resort was sold out, and guests of all ages and nationalities enjoyed the jabs at America's politicians interspersed throughout the stand-up routines.

Lee-Anne Lancaster, director of production and events of Just for Laughs, said while there are no firm plans to repeat the event, hopes are to do a third year, or perhaps expand to other Royalton resorts.

"The feedback was amazing," she said. "We had many repeat guests from last year, and they made a point of approaching us and letting us know they booked because they had enjoyed themselves the previous year. We also had repeat guests throughout the week attend the nightly shows, and we got to know them well from show to show."

Indeed, listening to comics mock what most would agree is turmoil in the American political system was much more relaxing than reading about it or watching it on television news  and in a much nicer setting.

My friend and I were hosted in the adults-only Hideaway, the most luxurious luxury section of the 800-plus room resort, with all the luxury in-room extras as well as a special lounge and beach and pool areas.

Our modern, spacious room had two queen-size beds, a sitting area and two large soaking tubs  one inside the other on the deck. And despite the occupancy rate, it never felt crowded. There were always plenty of beach and pool chairs with wait staff at the ready.

So we took it all in, ignored the news and hoped a wall might be erected quickly to prevent our return.

Obviously, that didn't happen. But as I flipped through cable news after I got home, I have to admit, I briefly wondered if I was still tuned into Just For Laughs.

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