Every year I try to hit up this show. It has never disappointed me and this year continued along with that trend. It is really because of the winning formula of the show. It happens in the intimate confines of the Theatre Ste. Catherine (holds probably around 100 people) and features about 9 stand-up comedians who are performing their own headline shows during the festival. The only bad part is that you only get about 10 minutes from each of the acts, but how could you complain when you are paying less than $30 to see all this talent?
Each night of the show’s run the host changes. On this the first evening the host was K. Trevor Wilson of the Canadian television series, Letterkenny. If you don’t watch the show then let me describe our host. He is a bear of a man – big with a bushy beard – who has a rather calm on stage demeanour except when describing how messy one of his roommates is. He has risen to the top of the Canadian stand-up pile due to his work ethic. The guy is always doing shows! For thousands or dozens, he does not seem to care. Just likes to be up on stage. His comedic style is rather akin to storytelling. On this evening his short set began with the simple statement that he is 36-years-old and (sadly) lives with two roommates, who he hates. Suddenly he had about 10 minutes out of that slight beginning. Just like magic! As the host he did a little thing at the beginning and then just kept it moving in between acts.
The first act up was Arj Barker. He is an American who is half Indian and half European. You might recognize him from his stint on the hilarious Flight of the Conchords as Bret and Jermaine’s friend Dave or as one of the semi-finalists from the fifth season of Last Comic Standing. His set consisted of sharp observations delivered in a rather dopey manner. A great delivery. Everything he talked about no matter how mundane he made seem like it was an emergency. Also kept your attention by talking about a wide range of subjects.
Second up was Deanne Smith, a comedian I was really happy was part of the line-up. A couple of clips of hers had been forwarded to me by friends and they always made me laugh. Live she did not disappoint. It is a hard thing for some comedians to just do 10 minutes. Deanne had no problems. She made things like how she felt she was disappointing the lesbian community by owning a tiny chihuahua instead of a pitbull and how her agenderness or non-binary identity is never more apparent than when she goes into the shampoo aisle in the pharmacy.
The Lucas Brothers is an act I was not familiar with, but really dug. They are identical twins named Kenny and Keith, though you never really learn who is who as they never refer to each other by name and are IDENTICAL. At least on stage. They really are the epitome of smart stoner humour. Their delivery is really laid back. Like really laid back. And very deadpan. Only occasionally will one slip up and laugh a little. I don’t know how they do it because their humour is so rapier sharp and so combined with the deadpan delivery it is a killer combo. Absurdity is their playground and they run it.
Despite the fact that there were so many acts the only disappointment of the evening for me was Johnny Pemberton. He has been in a couple of films like 21 Jump Street and Neighbors 2 as well as starring in the half hour sitcom, Superstore. His stuff was just too bizarre for me and I usually love weird stuff. His whole thing about the Rob Thomas/Santana was really not funny and went on too long.
Yamaneika is a comedian who has been taking part in The Nasty Show, so you know her set was not going to be clean. She was hilarious! Living on the edge, she even made jokes about wishing to be raped funny. Bold and dynamic she has the talent to pull that kind of tricky off. Her rants about being single, how hard it is to date in New York City and her conservative, Christian grandmother came rapid fire and all hit the target.
According to stand-up Katherine Ryan being a single mom is a thankless job. Not that her kid does not appreciate it rather it is the rest of society. Most around her want her to find a man and have more babies while refusing to be impressed that she is raising a child and bought a house all on her own. She insisted that if a man French braids hair women faint, but that fact that she does everything leaves society bored. It was a rather feminist set while still at the same time being funny. Double standards is her world and she owns it.
The next act hailing from Australia provided the audience with a big change of pace. Don’t get me wrong, they were funny, but Aunty Donna brought the noise…and the dance. High octane and dancing and singing ensued. The energy (and sound) level went up significantly when these three took the stage. Broden, Mark and Zach sang, drummed and danced us into laughter. I dare you to find a song catchier than their “Everything is a Drum”!
King of the Roasts was next. Jeff Ross has made a living by being the crassest of the crass on Roast shows. Why he has even roasted Trump. Twice! Though he joked he would not do it again because he felt as if the Orange Guy has lost his sense of humour. The funniest thing about Jeff Ross is the way he delivers his material. Even if it is not his best you still laugh cause the guy is just funny.
To close out the evening was Godfrey. This veteran of the stand-up biz is the total package. Funny with some acting ability, a great voice and brings plenty of energy. So polished that he is even able to make his love of kung fu films funny. When you can bring life and laughs to the mundane then you have arrived.
Host with the Most runs until July 29th with two sets per evening.