The title’s kind of a misnomer. This isn’t a review so much as a collection of ideas with subheadings relating to my recent experience at the stand up comedy show Laugh Sabbath, held at Rivoli 332 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON, yesterday. I’ll also share with you the jokes that I think might have worked if I went on stage last night.
I arrived at 8:30pm. I went upstairs because the main floor looked like a restaurant, but when I got upstairs all I saw were pool tables. And so I walked back downstairs and – thank God (capitalized G? common g?) – a group of people walked in and I lurked behind them so as to not continue the, ‘I don’t know where the hell I’m going‘ routine.
I followed them to the back of the restaurant, paid my $5.00, and took a seat on a stool at the side of the sparsely filled room. Since I came alone, I figured that sitting on a stool, as opposed to sitting at a table with 3 chairs, would make me seem like less of a loner. As it turns out, I was the only visible minority who attended the show, and so it was a losing battle to begin with.
The Minority Report
Looking around, I immediately thought, ‘I wonder if my jokes would work with this 25-36 year-old all white crowd?’ I have good material, but delivering funny material to the wrong crowd might be like trying to sell a great tractor to a doctor.
The room filled up quickly and tonight there was a collection of great comics. Keep in mind that I said great comics and not great reactions. Some of the comedians got laughs, others didn’t. And this being my third visit in the past 7 days to a stand up comedy show, I’ve realized that sometimes a comedian is just not gonna vibe with the crowd. Not good, not bad, just what is.
Is it the comedian’s fault? I guess it is. But then again, I haven’t bombed yet performing great material, so what do I know?
The host of the show, Adam Christie, was great. His crowd work was awesome, and that’s saying a lot given that the crowd was sedated in the beginning. Crowd work is something that I’m going to hone with each stand-up appearance I make. I find that when you get a joke with this device, the crowd appreciates it more because they know it takes more talent to improvise. Or maybe I’m just projecting my own feelings onto them. Either way, Adam Christie’s the man.
Written-driven vs. Performance-driven Comedy
One of things that didn’t emerge for me as a mental construct until after the show was the difference between written-driven and performance-driven comedy. A guy (Mark Little) that looked like Egon Spengler from the Ghostbuster’s cartoon (was very specific about his wording; I never thought I would hear the word, ‘cogent’ used in a set). He got laughs.
James Hartnett and Chris Locke were the completely different from Egon. They paid more attention to the on-stage delivery of the bits, and they delivered them well. James Hartnett did his entire set using a spot-on English accent (get it? Spot on? Because I’m describing an English…you don’t get it). If you read the material on paper, it wouldn’t have make you laugh. But goddamn, when he said it on stage, he had me in tears.
The last comic had a kind of deadpan/self-deprecating style that I’ve loved ever Since Norm MacDonald hosted the news on SNL, and his improvisation was a thing of beauty.
Two different styles of comedy getting similar crowd reactions. It’s a fantastic problem set for a new comic to consider.
To continue reading, click Laugh Sabbath Review Part 2