At the Comedy Mix at the Century Plaza Hotel on Thursday, June 17
There’s a throw-away line a lot of comics use after a particularly filthy or contentious part of their act: “I’m not for everyone.” Ian Bagg doesn’t ever make this utterance, but it would be fitting if he did. Because he’s not. He’s certainly not for those suffering from a bad case of white guilt—those who tend to be the ones who groan loudest at the barbs Bagg directs at almost every societal group imaginable.
But one never gets the impression the six-foot-four Terrace native, who has spent the last 15 years in Los Angeles, means anything sinister with his jokes. Headlining the Comedy Mix, Bagg played to a small but diverse and appreciative crowd that included Salvadoran-Americans, Chinese Canadians, a group of New Zealand sailors, two vacationing Brits, and a couple of African-Americans and -Canadians, all of whom roared with laughter at his politically incorrect act. Bagg spares no one, but doesn’t attack anyone. Rather, he shows more of a gleeful and benign ignorance of acceptable social interaction.
At any sign of shock from the crowd, Bagg acts taken aback. He wonders out loud if the audience is filled with Christians and he wasn’t told.
He’ll crack a joke about a Greyhound beheading or a notorious pig farm, absorb the audible wince and respond with, “How far back in history do I have to go before I can mock it?” He continues on in the voice of an audience member: “Please do not mock anything that has happened. Please only mock the future.”
Because he’s a master at crowd work, no two Bagg shows are completely alike. He gets to know everyone in the crowd and constantly refers back to them throughout, addressing them by a nickname he’s assigned each one.
Beyond the obvious questions of “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” Bagg will poll various people: “What’s your favourite part of a blow job, Asian Guy?” “What’s the worst weather pattern you’ve ever been in, Beardy?” “Where’s the best place to have anal sex, Skirt?”
Though much of his act is off the cuff, like any good comic, he’s got material to fall back on, depending on the situation. When the topic of religion came up, he told us he was raised Catholic, “but we don’t have to go to church since grandma died. She took one for the team and we got our Sundays back.”
The recently opened Comedy Mix may not yet be on the radar of comedy fans in Vancouver, but with headliners like Bagg and next week’s touring pro, Tom Segura, also from Los Angeles, they better get on it.
Intimate crowds are the nature of the beast sometimes, but they don’t ensure long-term stability. As Bagg said when he took to the stage, “I’ve never been in a foreclosure before but I imagine this is what it looks like.”
Let’s hope it never gets to that.