Spring arts preview 2018 comedy critics' picks: Shock value and TV names rev up the scene

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      As the weather improves, it’s time to come out of your house and take a look around. There’s all forms of comedy happening this spring to warm the cockles of your funny bone (including the big JFL NorthWest comedy fest from March 1 to 10; see our special guide to it next week).


      Brad Upton

      At Lafflines in New Westminster on February 23 and 24

      Seattle’s Upton is such a regular visitor to the Lower Mainland, we take him for granted. But the guy is a master.

      The Draw: The older you get, the more things piss you off, and it’s apparent in Upton’s act. But there’s no trace of bitterness with him. Or if there is, he masks it well.

      Target Audience: Lafflines draws well from the locals, but Vancouverites should remember that it’s but a short SkyTrain trip away. If you’ve never been, or it’s been a while, this is a good weekend to check it out.


      SIRIUS XM Top Comic Showcase

      At the Comedy MIX on March 7 and 8

      While celebrity comedians get most of the publicity, Vancouver’s own standups are some of the best in the country. Every year, the 604 is well-represented in the finals of this national competition. Last year, our very own Gavin Matts went to Toronto and brought home the title (plus a cool 25 grand).

      The Draw: You get a nice cross section of our city’s talent, as approximately 10 acts compete per night.

      Target Audience: If your ADD makes it difficult to focus on a 45-minute set, this is the show for you. There’s no filler here. The hopefuls do a tight seven minutes of their best material for the judges.


      Letterkenny Live!

      At the Orpheum on April 5

      It’s the Trailer Park Boys of a new generation. The CraveTV hit about life in the small fictional town of Letterkenny, Ontario, is so popular that it’s spawned a 26-city tour.

      The Draw: The 90-minute show promises original sketches and standup sets from Jared Keeso (Wayne), Nathan Dales (Daryl), K. Trevor Wilson (Dan), and Mark Forward (Coach).

      Target Audience: True patriots, eh?


      Comedy Shocker XVI: Sweet 16

      At the Rickshaw Theatre on April 7

      These days, everyone’s shocked and offended by even the most innocuous comedian. It’s amazing that Comedy Shocker has survived—and flourished—for as long as it has, 16 shows and counting. The Vancouver-based quarterly founded by ex-con, ex–drug addict Mark Hughes has even taken its taboo busters on the road.

      The Draw: Some of your favourite comedians performing material they can’t perform everywhere. This time around, it’s host Hughes along with Colin Lamb, Byron Bertram, Ron Vaudry, coproducer Sam Tonning, and headliner Simon King.

      Target Audience: If mainstream comedians upset your sensibilities, stay clear of this show. Nothing is off-limits here, so be ready to take a joke.

      Jon Dore has a straight face that makes his absurdist laughs even funnier.

      Jon Dore

      At the Comedy MIX on April 13 and 14

      TV’s Jon Dore may not be on the small screen every week anymore, but he should be—he’s one of the funniest humans around. Thankfully, he’s a regular visitor to Vancouver, so we can get our fix of his drollery.

      The Draw: Dore’s bearded straight face makes his already hilarious absurd, silly, antagonistic style even funnier. Throw in the odd belch and it’s comedy gold.

      Target Audience: Tired of the same old standup formula? With Dore’s unpredictability and crowd work, you never know what to expect.


      Jamie Lee

      At the Comedy MIX from April 19 to 21

      She’s married and not afraid to talk about it. And at only two years in, she’s not that jaded yet. Or is she? She’s also been a standup for longer, though, so she’s got other things on her mind. But as the author of Weddiculous: An Unfiltered Guide to Being a Bride, she’s now an expert.

      The Draw: Lee has tons of TV credits to her name, both on-air and writing. But it’s only in a club setting that she can really let loose.

      Target Audience: Ladies and gentlemen. Women will appreciate her snark, while guys will get a glimpse into the female mind.


      Randy Rainbow

      At the Vogue Theatre on April 29

      Rainbow was making viral videos before the ascension of the Donald, but it was the Trump bump that really pushed him up to the next level.

      The Draw: How do YouTube videos translate to the live stage? Great question. You’ll just have to go to find out. But Rainbow’s engaging presence should be enough to sustain the evening.

      Target Audience: Pull yourself away from CNN for a couple hours and go hear a musical and comedic take on the scourge of the White House—with some celebrity-bashing thrown in for good measure.


      Jimmy Carr

      At the Vogue Theatre on May 20

      When a band plays, you want to hear what you know. With comedians, it’s out with the old, in with the new. No one told Jimmy Carr that. Will his The Best of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits World Tour consist of all oldies but goodies? We’ll see.

      The Draw: He’s one of the best jokesmiths in the U.K. and he gleefully loves to cross whatever line society lays down. But his jokes are so well-crafted, and he looks so gosh-darned innocent, he gets away with it.

      Target Audience: If you need some quick hitters to tell back at the office, you’re sure to pick up a few here. But be careful who you repeat them to.


      Kevin Hart

      At Rogers Arena on June 16

      The littlest big star in comedy needs a freakin’ arena for his most intimate of shows. Hart is so damn excitable and enthusiastic, he probably doesn’t even need a microphone.

      The Draw: You’ll never get to experience Hart in a comedy club and it’ll be years before he ever descends to a lowly theatre, so this is as close as you’ll get. But Hart is no flash in the pan. He’s been one of the best for a long time.

      Target Audience: Those who want the excitement of a sporting event but don’t care about hockey.