Comics Kick Ass Despite Idiotic Audiences
We may as well call the 2004 Vancouver International Comedy Festival (October 19 to 25) the "first annual": this year's changes left it bearing almost no resemblance to previous editions. It moved from the summer to fall, from Granville Island to the Granville Street entertainment district, and from modest to an event worthy of a major city. During its seven days, the festival squeezed in 59 performances by more than 100 comics at 17 venues. Of course, there were growing pains: shows routinely started late (a particular Vancouver malaise), and some venues were horrendous. But the positives far outweighed the negatives... OUTDATED REFERENCES to Peter Allen and Carrot Top, along with an early joke about not having an act, all pointed to the fact that Martin Short might want to spend a little more time on his stage show before taking it to Broadway, as is his stated intention. The SCTV alumnus's opening-night Orpheum appearance last Tuesday was an uneven hodgepodge of character bits, improv skits, old Saturday Night Live clippings, physical comedy, and song-and-dance. Highlights included a skinny Jiminy Glick interviewing VSO music director Bramwell Tovey, who was a good sport about having candy tossed at him and being told he has a name like a Belgian hooker's. But the Ed Grimley skit--which made use of local comics Diana Frances, Ellie Harvie, and Roman Danylo--didn't build sufficiently on its comic premise: a woman hires the childlike Grimley to be her dinner date at a fancy French restaurant. The Vancouver players acquitted themselves well, however, both in that number and in a later (and, apparently, decade-old) Pictionary sketch pitting men against women... DATING IT, which ran four times at the Roxy, was a pleasant surprise. A great sound system, a bright stage, and attentive crowds--coupled with the clever idea of hooking comedians up with single audience members--made this show a lot of fun. The best moment of one show came when New York comic Todd Barry found out his speed date across the table was a single mother of two. "Let me pretend I'm still into this," he said to sympathetic groans. "What I meant to say was, 'How old are your kids?' "... HOLDING THE 28th Annual Glossy Awards at the Commodore on Thursday was a good idea, on paper at least: a fake Oscars--type extravaganza complete with phony entertainment media, bogus actors, real local celebrities, and well-produced clips as nominated films. Throw in a topnotch small big band and you've got the potential for a great evening. Unfortunately, most of the night was an exercise in overacting and satirizing easy targets (Best reality show: Queer Factor. Get it?)... TOM LEE Music Hall Theatre was an oddly effective place for comedy. The room resembled a high-school auditorium, its stage adorned with a grand piano and a huge picture of a baby, which made for an odd juxtaposition during Thursday night's XXX Comedy (Don't Bring Your Mom). Louis CK lived up to that billing by recalling a conversation about a child molester with a pub patron in Ireland, who told him the miscreant was a "pee-dophile", not a "ped-ophile". "Hey, I've been fucking kids for 10 years. Don't tell me how to pronounce pedophile. I should know!"... FRIDAY'S TWO theatre shows at the Vogue were a train wreck, despite some stellar performances by the comics. The Trailer Park Boys hosted, and white trash from here to Surrey came out in droves to see their heroes in the flesh. Rude and boorish don't begin to describe the audience, who must have thought they were at the Apollo Theater or on the Gong Show, yelling "You suck!" to whichever standup didn't match the high standards of three guys standing around talking about getting high and drunk. The comics got some decent squelches in, though. "We should hang out, because I have a truck and you can stand in front of it," shot back New York's Demetri Martin. Meanwhile, Andy Kindler took the brunt of the abuse, literally getting booed off-stage. Exasperated by the jeers and hisses, he resorted to loogan-speak before exiting: "How long have you been walking on two feet, you fucking idiot? Fuck you, you scumbag!... Thank you!" Closer Mike McDonald's bit about Canadian politeness rang a bit hollow after all that... KINDLER'S TROUBLES didn't end there. The Los Angeles--based comic and Everybody Loves Raymond regular seemed to be having a run of more than unusual bad luck during his Vancouver visit. The folks at Doolin's Irish Pub for Comedy and Cocktails early Thursday evening didn't seem to be aware, or care, that a comedy show had been scheduled, and the patrons' incessant chatter, the TVs tuned to a baseball game, and the kitchen noise during his set combined to elevate the comedian's sarcastic scorn to new and withering heights. And during Big Time Comics at the Cellar on Saturday night, audience members again made a racket embarrassing to anyone silly enough to think comedians deserve a little respect. As Kindler remarked, "Can we hand out some megaphones to the audience members so they can be even louder?"... SATURDAY NIGHT'S Vogue experience was exactly what a theatre show should be. The respectful and appreciative crowd gave it up for three of TV's Last Comics Standing, MC Tom Cotter and Vancouver's own LCS, 24-year-old Graham Clark, who had the set of his life. Despicable and unfunny on TV, Tammy Pescatelli impressed greatly, especially with her ability to riff when experiencing technical problems with the mike. Corey Holcomb also was a hit with his coolly nasty shtick... SOME OF the best lines of the fest: "I took a lie-detector test. They didn't notice. I just slipped it under my jacket. They asked me if I had seen it. I said no, then my jacket started beeping." (Tom Cotter)... "My cousin suffers from attention-deficit disorder. He's trying to raise awareness by wandering across Canada." (Irwin Barker)... "I've got a lot of growing up to do. I realized this the other day in my fort." (Zack Galifianakis)... "My sexual fantasy is to make love to Sigmund Freud's father--mother! Fuck!" (Stewart Francis)... "I was standing in the park wondering why a Frisbee gets larger the closer it gets. And then it hit me." (Stewart Francis)... "I ended up playing charades with this deaf couple. They were amazing." (Zack Galifianakis)... "The worst time to have a heart attack is during a game of charades. Especially if your teammates are bad guessers." (Demetri Martin)... "I'm not technically rich, but I do have a lot of shit I don't need that I refuse to share with anyone." (Maria Bamford)... "Florida's had it rough lately. There are still thousands of people without power. Yeah, they're called black voters." (Costaki Economopoulos)... "I like statues because it shows what people would look like if birds shit all over them." (Demetri Martin)... "Jimmy Fallon has left Saturday Night Live to pursue a career in comedy." (Andy Kindler).