World Champion Judah Friedlander wins again

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At the Comedy MIX on Thursday, February 13. Continues to February 15

Some celebrity comedians finish up their standup set by taking questions from the audience. Judah Friedlander, best-known for his role as the writer Frank Rossitano on NBC’s 30 Rock, in his on-stage persona as the World Champion, goes one better, naturally: he takes questions all throughout his set. In fact, that is the whole set.

He’ll tackle any subject thrown his way: sports (he is the World Champion, after all), politics (he’s running for both President of the United States and President of Canada), or entertainment. He’ll answer each one, following with “Good question”, no matter how ridiculous it is. When someone shouted out about Liz Lemon, the character played by Tina Fey on his erstwhile sitcom, Friedlander responded, “Did her.” Another voice from the darkness then asked about Alec Baldwin, who played Jack Donaghy on the show, and the reply was, “Did him, too.” The natural follow-up: “Who’s better?” The answer? “I couldn’t tell the difference.”

Like any good improvisational standup, Friedlander used some of those spontaneous questions to sneak in prepared jokes, giving the illusion that this was all off-the-cuff. A lot of it surely was, though: the entertainer, playing the Comedy MIX for the first time, couldn’t see the light that told him when his time was up, a problem that Dana Gould faced on his first night here, resulting in his mammoth 75-minute show. The World Champ is better than all the others, though, so Friedlander did 83 minutes. It’s probably the first time in his career that the dominating superathlete has needed to go into overtime.

Looking like Randy “Macho Man” Savage gone to pot, the dumpy Friedlander (he says 225 pounds is the perfect fighting weight, no matter how tall you are) wore a World Champion windbreaker and yellow T-shirt and a ball cap with American flags flanking each side. He started out getting to know various people in the crowd, always one-upping them. To a pilot: “Cool, man. Me, too. What do you fly? 737? I fly a 747.” Nothing threw him for a loop. He was cool and unflappable throughout. He claimed that “math and reading are my only three weaknesses”. Add to that badminton, which he’s bad at, because he plays amazingminton.

The extra length didn’t help the show, providing lulls that wouldn’t be there in a tighter set, especially after strong showings from emcee Kyle Bottom, who’s moving to Toronto on May 7 to be close to his girlfriend (even though he hasn’t met her yet), and middle Dino Archie, who used the following line in a bar fight: “Bitch, I’m in the Georgia Straight!”

But overall, the fun and likably arrogant character came out victorious. Yet again.

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