If you are a fan of stand-up comedy and want to see the most acts possible for $25 then Host With the Most is the show for you. Plus it takes place in the very intimate confines of Théatre Sainte Catherine. Comedy shows like this are usually a mixed bag meaning that some performers are funny while others less so. At this show no one bombed (rarer than that sounds) and while they each had their own style they each had the audience in stitches.
I attended the 9:45 show last night which was hosted by Saturday Night Live regular and the guy who does Weekend News now, Colin Jost. Young, smart, gainfully employed, and good looking Colin Jost has everything going for him. As the host of a show called Host With the Most he had the job of warming up the crowd. Now oddly enough, a couple of times he seemed less than impressed with the crowd. Meaning that our reactions did not seem to be enough for him. Maybe he had never played in front of a Canadian/Montreal crowd before and was used to a more raucous New York crowd. I don’t know. Whatever the case he mentioned several times that we weren’t loud enough. That being said, he was funny.
A graduate of Harvard University (so we know he is smart), Jost is primarily known as a comedy writer as he is a head writer on SNL, has won several Writers Guild of America Awards and has earned five Emmy nominations. Most of his material had to do with the usual stuff like dating, sex and living in New York. His style is dry and clever and while some of his jokes went off better than others most found the mark and he was great at the tough job of coming up between acts and being funny for two minutes or so. Most of his stuff had that smirky type of feel to them and for the most part that worked. His only problem is that he has limited appeal outside that vanilla white good looking guy aura he has going for him. If you are looking for something left of centre then move on. But the saving grace of the show was that most of the stand-ups that followed were definitely left of centre.
First up on stage was female comedian Jamie Lee. Some in the audience might recognize her from her role in the MTV comedy Girl Code while others have seen her on the comedy panel on Chelsea Lately. She was also a staff writer on The Pete Holmes Show (a comedian who also performed a set in this show) and was a semi-finalist on the NBC reality show, Last Comic Standing. Her set consisted of jokes about not being able to do weed, owning a dog (which was a popular topic amongst the comedians working tonight), being engaged to a rather muscular guy, and being Jewish and from Texas. She had an easy kind of presence on stage and really made the most of her seven or eight minutes onstage. A good start to the evening.
Next up was Chris Gethard, a man with his own show. At first glance he looks like he should be a stand-up comedian because he looks like he was the type of kid who was picked on or beaten up a lot. Meaning he had that geek thing going on with his glasses, small of size, zip up hoodie, and pale complexion. Instead of being a joke teller he used the story telling style, which is often quite difficult but he pulled it off. His two stories had to do with what you would do in the event of an apocalypse and the two times in his life that he heard a person say the most perfect thing. When you go along for the ride (and the second story was a literal ride on the school bus) and it ends up working it is a complete delight. His style took some getting used to (quickly) though it ended up being totally worth it in the end.
One of the more established and famous acts of the evening was Rob Schneider. Famous for his time on Saturday Night Live, his Deuce Bigalow films and plenty of work he has done with Adam Sandler. Fifty years old now, he has a sort of comfort on stage that puts you at ease immediately. Though I was doubtful that this guy could make me laugh based on the fact that most of his movies are garbage and the furthest thing from funny, he won me over. He wasn’t side splittingly funny, but there were plenty of giggles to be found. Most of his material was based on his latest marriage (seems like there has been a couple as he joked that he really wanted this one to work as he wanted to keep his house as he really loved it) to a woman who is Mexican and very concerned about the security of the house they live in.
Even if you do not know him from his stand-up career you might recognize Joe Deluca from his role on the new hit series, Better Call Saul. His quirky set was based on a style that was one part frustration with the world with the other part being brutal honesty verging on a darkness. There were plenty of wild observations about serial killer Ted Bundy, people who own animals and parents of kids. Told in a style verging on the Sam Kinison shouting in an angry way at the audience way, you could not be easily offended, disgusted or rattled to enjoy his material.
The comedian who got the biggest reaction out of the audience all evening was Canadian (yay!) stand-up Debra DiGgiovanni. The Ontarian’s style is frenetic and hilarious. Before you can make fun of her she is the queen of taking the piss out of herself. Her self-deprecating style had the audience in stitches. The howls of laughter almost drowned out some of her material as DiGiovanni worked in a rapid fire kind of way. A champion of single and awkward women her material, which she had jotted down on a notepad that she held in her hand during her all too short set, is filled with a feistiness that won everyone over and snappy one-liners that had us holding our stomachs. You know a comedian has done well when their set flies by and you wish they had longer.
Next up was Ricky Velez. This was one odd bird. A New York Puerto Rican with anxiety sounds like the perfect formula was left of centre comedy to me and it was. He attributes all his craziness to living in New York City and I’m willing to believe that based on his material. Velez works as the correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and obviously has honed his sharp, cutting comedic style there.
Fortune Feimster (with probably one of the better names in stand-up) is a lesbian from the South, who pretty much bases her whole routine on herself. While pacing the stage she made us laugh with her stories about coming out to her very Christian mother and father and thinking she was being hit on by a man, but really he thought she was his male friend.
Pete Holmes is one very tall vegan. His easygoing onstage style made it very easy to laugh at his stories about his father going deaf (but it wasn’t cruel as it is the kind of death that you can make fun of according to Holmes) and owning a dog versus owning a cat.
Probably the most disappointing act (only because I have such high expectations for her) was comedy veteran Margaret Cho. She stated towards the beginning of her too short for her style of comedy set was that she had not done a show like this since 1991. I could see why. Some comedians can be brilliant during their own sets yet stink the joint out when asked to just come up on stage for a short period. I think back to when I saw Janeane Garafalo years ago pretty much walk off the stage in the middle of her set because she knew she was bombing because her long storytelling style did not suit eight minute sets. It was kind of similar for Cho. She did not bomb, but this was far from the level of funny I know she is capable of. Cho even said that she knew that she was supposed to be doing the stuff she would be doing at the Ellie Kemper Gala she was doing the following evening, but it was obvious she was not in that headspace. When she did not get the response she had hoped for after one joke involving an eggplant she mumbled that maybe the audience was not getting the quality of it. The funniest portion of her set was when she did some of her always popular mother stuff. When Cho imitates her mother or does jokes about what she has said to her daughter it always kills. The highlight was when she told her mom at about the age of 14 that she wanted to be a stand-up comedian and her mother said that “she may as well die” that I had one of my biggest laughs of the evening.
Though we had already gotten plenty of laughs for our bucks host Colin Jost came out and asked if we were up for one more stand-up who was a special guest. Of course, we applauded (probably not wildly in Jost’s books, but whatever) and he brought on stage fellow SNL castmate, Pete Davidson. Davidson looks like he is about 18-years-old and that helped his style of stand-up. Because his innocent look was in juxtaposition with the filthly funny things that came out of his mouth. His stuff about not being able to masturbate when his grandfather sleeps over on Tuesday nights or the fact that male porn actors who make noises while orgasming piss him off because all he does is make the face of a shocked baby were hilarious.
Host With the Most was akin to going to one of the big Galas, but cost half the money, was in a room small enough that you felt a connection with the comedian on stage and was double the fun.