Fourth time's the charm for Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club
At Yuk Yuk’s on Thursday, March 22
With comedy impresario Mark Breslin on hand, it was déjà vu all over again as Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club opened its doors for the fourth time in Vancouver. The national chain, synonymous for standup comedy to many Canadians, is hoping this go-around will be more permanent than its Davie Street, Plaza of Nations, and Burrard Street locations of yesteryear.
It’s been two years since the club has been a presence on the local scene. The Comedy MIX, at the Century Plaza Hotel, has more than taken up the slack in its absence, establishing itself as one of the top clubs in the country. With Yuk Yuk’s back, across the Burrard Inlet at Cambie Street and 12th, the question now is, Can the two clubs coexist in the 604?
If opening night was any indication, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” The 184-seat venue was packed for American legend Emo Philips. Great sightlines and sound are all a comedy venue really needs, and the new place has it. And of course talent also helps. The sing-songy Philips, known as one of the best writers in all of comedy, was joined by a trio of other comics and there wasn’t a weak link in the group.
It was great to see former Vancouverite Jay Brown hosting. Brown’s heavy-metal exterior and dick jokes belie a real intelligence. He’s got the perfect combination of attitude and charm, not afraid of alienating a crowd but able to win them back.
The first guest was Vancouver’s Sam Easton, whose boyish looks and build stand in stark contrast to his White Cheddah rap-star-wannabe persona. An actor by training, Easton’s work feels like performance more than standup but is always a hit with comedy crowds.
The penultimate act was Toronto’s Bryan O’Gorman, started out slow, making fun of racist American southerners. That didn’t really resonate with the Canadians in attendance, but he really hit his groove with bits on hockey homosexuals, fellatio lessons, acid-tripped sex, and anal bleaching. Sounds base and juvenile, but O’Gorman, like Brown, takes an intellectual approach to his subjects.
And finally it was Emo time. Philips, now in his 50s, wasn’t as sharp as he’s been on past visits to town—there was more space between his brilliant one-liners—but there’s no denying his genius. His hilariously absurd jokes (“I like to play chess with old men in the park, but where do you find 32 of them?”) drew the loudest laughs of the night. Unlike other well-known short-form comics (Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Demetri Martin, Zach Galifianakis, Stewart Francis), Philips will occasionally add some pointed barbs aimed at religion and politics to his seemingly guileless gags. (“I’m not a Scientologist. I’m not even a fan of stupidity when it isn’t evil.”) But his childlike delivery takes away any intended sting.
Even at three-quarter speed, as he seemed to be on opening night, Philips is well worth checking out. And so’s the new room.