The face of Vancouver comedy is changing. Oh, sure, you can always catch the superstars at the same old big theatres and casinos, but the regular haunts will have new addresses. Yuk Yuk’s will cease operations on April 1, but comedy will continue at the same location at the Century Plaza Hotel on Burrard Street; the owners are just breaking away from the parent company to run their own independent club. As for Yuk’s, it’s still searching for a new location in town. Meanwhile, the Vancouver TheatreSports League, a mainstay at the New Revue Stage on Granville Island, will still be on the island but moves to the Improv Centre (1500 Duranleau Street) the first week of April, with a gala week running April 20 to 24. And over in New West, Lafflines will move into the bigger Burr Theatre this summer.
(March 13 at the Vogue Theatre)
Is he laughing or crying? Who knows? The constantly whining Jeremy Hotz buries his head in his hand and complains about everything from his nose to elephant farts. And it never—ever—fails to elicit howls from his fans.
The Draw: The guy has been dubbed Mr. Standing Ovation for a reason. He kills. It helps that his crowd work is impeccable, which makes each show unique.
Target Audience: Fellow pessimists who prefer to laugh at life’s inanities instead of crying.
(March 19 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, Coquitlam)
The Saturday Night Live alumnus is one of the funniest humans alive. Thank God his movie and TV career died. He’s rededicated himself to standup comedy and his act is nothing short of brilliant.
The Draw: The Ottawa native’s unique delivery system, which relies on a dumb-guy persona that delivers beautiful truths.
Target Audience: True comedy fans recognize this guy’s the real deal.
Ron James: Mental as Anything
(April 10 at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts)
Ron James rolls through town (and every other city and village in the country) every year or two. He continues to pack ’em in because he keeps adding to his already substantial act with loads of new material. How he retains it all, especially given the mile-a-minute rate he goes at, is amazing to behold.
The Draw: James is the quintessential Canuck comic. He holds a mirror up to everything this country stands for.
Target Audience: Readers. James crafts every word and phrase for optimal effect.
(April 15 at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts)
It’s foolish to say any one comic is the funniest person working today, but you’d at least have to put Brian Regan in the conversation. He’s silly, stupid, and inconsequential, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better standup comedian anywhere.
The Draw: It’s Brian freakin’ Regan. He rarely plays here. ’Nuff said.
Target Audience: Regan is one of the few clean comics whose universal appeal is actually universal. It extends to the alt-comedy crowd and beyond, to those who normally prefer their humour with piss and vinegar.
(April 22-24 at Lafflines, New Westminster)
Does the Jamie Kennedy standup experience differ from the hidden camera/sketch show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment? While the latter was the WB network’s highest rated show seven years ago, it lasted only two seasons. Surely his live act has greater staying power.
The Draw: It’s always a bit of a kick to see a pseudo-celebrity in a relatively intimate venue.
Target Audience: Respectful patrons of the arts; not yappy boors. The man, after all, produced the documentary Heckler in 2007, railing about abusive audience members.
(April 30 at the River Rock Show Theatre, Richmond, and May 1 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, Coquitlam)
The triumphant insult comic has enjoyed a longevity equalled by few other entertainers. Rickles has maintained, and even built on, the popularity he enjoyed as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.
The Draw: It’s always a risk sitting up close at a Rickles show, but should you be the target of a full-on verbal assault, rest assured you’re in good company. The 83-year-old former Frank Sinatra lap dog has attacked many a great over the years.
Target Audience: Anyone who lives vicariously through their grouchy grandpa.
(May 21 and 22 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
The cross-dressing Brit brings his Stripped tour to Vancouver, seven years after his last appearance. No word yet on whether Izzard, who ran 43 marathons in 51 days last year, will make his way across the Dominion on foot.
The Draw: Izzard’s comedy is a marathon in itself. He takes long meandering journeys with tangents aplenty. Will he talk about his runs through England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland? Did he wear sensible shoes? Inquiring minds want to know.
Target Audience: Transvestite athletic anglophiles. And anyone else who likes absurdist humour.
(May 29 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, Coquitlam)
Don Rickles’s best friend makes a return appearance. Newhart’s gentle brand of comedy, though, is in stark contrast to his pit-bull buddy. Not that you don’t know that already. His two sitcoms are legendary.
The Draw: Newhart isn’t in-your-face. He tells a few street jokes, does the odd classic routine from his Button-Down Mind days, and leaves everyone feeling warm and fuzzy.
Target Audience: If you want to get away from the problems of the world, this is the show for you. Newhart will take you back to a kinder, gentler time.
(June 4 at the River Rock Show Theatre)
For your yearly filth quotient, be sure to check out Morgan. The 30 Rock star is not the TV-friendly performer you thought he was. But he’s been here enough lately that you probably already know that already.
The Draw: The hyperactive comic is a larger-than-life performer. Morgan’s material may be cringeworthy, but he does it in style.
Target Audience: See the Newhart entry. The exact opposite of that.