Pam’s Variety Gala @ Just For Laughs

Now, I know that you have read the reviews that have (and I quote) rated it as an "unqualified disaster". I also expect that you think I will jump on that bandwagon as a feminist reviewing a Pamela Anderson show. But, I am going to surprise you by saying that I enjoyed my evening of entertainment.

After reading the other reviews I wondered what these crotchety middle age cynics expected from Pam? For her to come out and be a comedic genius à la Margaret Cho? She is a Playboy centerfold and barely (and I mean barely) an actress, so what did they expect? Anderson is a large target (she has set herself up as one) and an easy one. If you are going to critique what she does you have to be realistic.

Making her entrance descending from the ceiling on a silver hoop, with her trademark huge platinum blonde do and wearing a silver sequined skimpy outfit. We knew before the show that she was doing some dancing. Anderson had competed and done fairly well on the Dancing With the Stars television show. She and her partner from the show, Aussie Damian Whitewood, performed a dance competently.

Then she was a part of the most awkward moments of the evening (and the only ones) when she left the stage for a costume change that lasted way too long. Whitewood was left to his own devices alone on stage for a couple of minutes. And he did not fill the time very well. He is obviously a way better dancer than he is an entertainer. When she finally did come back in a skintight gold lamme dress Pamela attempted a few lines of stand up comedy. Yes, she did read them off a teleprompter, but it wasn't that painful. She even won points with me for taking a shot at Prime Minister Steven Harper by saying she guessed he was not a member of animal rights group PETA because it involves the word "ethical". Kazing!

The first act was American Michael Kosta. Tall, handsome, a former professional tennis player, and only began stand-up a couple of years ago, Kosta was a decent opener for the evening. He had that confident thing, maybe a little too much so, going and was milking being the arrogant, smart-ass for all it was worth. Kosta's jokes were mostly of the sexual variety like his you knew someone was going to go there line about how he always dreamed of coming after Pamela Anderson. He did show some variety with his bit about never getting parking tickets anymore because he has removed his windshield wipers. Where are they going to put the ticket now? Advantage: no tickets. Disadvantage: rain.

Next up was Irish-American Des Bishop. Bishop was probably the weakest comedian of the evening as it took him way too long to get to his punchlines. He spoke of how tough it was for an Irish kid growing up in a predominantly Italian area of New York. How by age 14 he was an alcoholic and so his mother sent him to Ireland to live. Not too bright to send an alcoholic to a country known for its love of the drink. He joked it is the only country where protests happen outside AA meetings. He then strangely segued into bits about his battle with testicular cancer. Strange.

For a change of pace and fitting in with the variety theme of the gala, Australia's Youtube sensations, Axis of Awesome took the stage. The musical trio have become famous for their bit about how many pop songs feature the same four chords. They proved this theory by performing a medley of songs playing only the four chords. Running through songs like Lady Gaga's "Poker Face", James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", "Oh Canada", Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours", Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved", U2's "With Or Without You", The Beatles' "Let It Be", Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry", Aha's "Take On Me", and Africa's "Toto". It really was amazing.

Closing up the first set was a comedian that Pamela Anderson said she had plenty in common with in that she is Canadian and female….and well, that was about it. Kristen Von Hagen started off slowly (it is a lot of pressure to try to kill in only 5 minutes), but tied things up nicely with her "and that is how you get syphilis of the eye" line.

After a short intermission, Pamela Anderson came back on stage in a short, black, lacy number and performed an abbreviated tango with Whitewood. The first comedian after the break was probably the strongest of the evening, Ralph Harris. Harris started off talking about how he is so dominated by his girlfriend that he now knows everything you should about curtains. Especially that you better call them drapes. He definitely gave me some belly laughs especially with his bit about how men do not take care of their feet and letting their toenails grow to obscene lengths.

And for a little variety Montreal's own Blueprint Cru took the stage. They are a hip hop dance crew who came to the public's attention on the television show America's Best Dance Crew 5 where they were runners up that season. Blueprint Cru formed in 2002, feature 8 members, some of their members were on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and are known for their great synchronicity.

More variety came from London's Beardyman (Darren Foreman). It is hard to accurately describe how talented this 28-year-old guy is at beat boxing. The sounds this guy can make with his mouth are incredible. Besides his beat boxing skills his act also featured the innovative use of live looping technology. He has, for good reason, been dubbed the "King of Sound and Ruler of Beats".

The final act of the evening was English comedian and ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. I was a little doubtful about a ventriloquist as I have never really seen a good one. Well, that all changed with Zerdin. He, along with his most popular character, a boy named Bob, was really quite funny. Not only limiting himself to simple ventriloquism he also did a short bit about how much fun he has using that skill out in the real world like when he sees a pregnant woman and does the voice of the baby inside of her saying, "Let me out." Zerdin also incorporated a member (a guy who Bob had been calling ugly his whole time out of the suitcase) of the audience into his act using a movable mouth placed over the volunteer's lower face. The guy was a good sport when Zerdin gave him a very feminine sounding voice and questioned his sexuality.

That was it except for Pamela Anderson coming out in a seal suit and saying it was her "clubbing" outfit. All in all it was an enjoyable evening that featured acts not usually seen at stand up galas. And yes Pamela read from the teleprompter and was a little wooden, but all that was forgotten as she was quite cute and charming.

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