Fall Arts Preview 2019 comedy critics' picks: Ranging from magic to Spinal Tap, the season promises big laughs

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      The city has lost a standup club since last fall, but there’s still plenty of comedy of all styles to be had at venues across town.


      Shawn Farquhar

      At a secret location in Chinatown on September 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 27, and 28

      While not straight comedy, master magician Shawn Farquhar elicits tons of laughs—some through his admittedly dad-joke type patter, but most from the fact that you can’t believe what you just thought you saw.

      The Draw: He’s a two-time world champion of magic and was the first magician to fool Penn & Teller twice on Fool Us. Which is more impressive?

      Target Audience: Fans of close-up magic will be in heaven at a secret location, revealed—almost like magic—when a ticket is purchased.


      Among all of Greg Fitzsimmons's accomplishments, it's standup that's got him where he is.

      Greg Fitzsimmons

      At Yuk Yuk’s on September 20 and 21

      Finally, Vancouver gets Greg Fitzsimmons. Maybe he’s been too busy over the years winning Emmys, writing books, acting, and hosting his popular podcast.

      The Draw: Despite all the other accomplishments, it’s his standup that got him where he is. Let’s not forget he’s kinda decent at that, too.

      Target Audience: For a medium that still not everybody knows about, podcasts draw huge and devout audiences. If you’re not a listener, get your tickets quick before the tuned-in scoop them up.


      Eric Andre

      At the Vogue Theatre on September 20

      According to his tour name, Eric Andre wants to Legalize Everything. We can only hope that’s just in reference to drugs and not, say, arson, embezzlement, and murder. But I’m sure his thesis will be interesting.

      The Draw: As anyone who’s seen his talk show knows, Andre is a force of nature. He’s surreal, bizarre, and high-strung. You can’t take your eyes off him.

      Target Audience: His hard-core fans skew younger and definitely more stoned.


      Jon Dore

      At Yuk Yuk’s on October 18 and 19

      It’s always a treat when Jon Dore comes to town. The Canadian expat is one of the most inventive and original standups working.

      The Draw: The dry silliness of Dore will get you giggling and that’ll buoy you through the weekend.

      Target Audience: We’ll always love him best for his groundbreaking Jon Dore Television Show on the Comedy Network (back when they cared about producing Canadian comedy), but he’s done so much since moving to L.A. in 2008—from network sitcoms (How I Met Your Mother) to sketch shows (Inside Amy Schumer) to late-night talk shows, to his appearances on Canada’s own Baroness Von Sketch Show—that he draws from a broad spectrum of fans, both mainstream and alt.


      Schitt’s Creek: Up Close & Personal

      At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 20

      Long gone are the days when Canadian TV shows ipso facto sucked. Now they’re getting so popular, they head out on the road and play live to fans. Hell, this one has even played L.A. and will be in Vegas the night before its Vancouver appearance.

      The Draw: SCTV superstars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, for sure, but the whole ensemble is so good and so… weird. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, this might be a good place to start, because presumably they’ll show just the best clips.

      Target Audience: If you’ve already binge-watched all four seasons and 52 episodes on Netflix, you’ll be jonesing for these familiar faces.


      Piff the Magic Dragon

      At the Vogue Theatre on November 9

      What?! Two magic acts in the comedy listings? That’s right. John van der Put is a world-weary and droll Brit who hilariously performs brilliant stage magic in a rumpled dragon’s costume.

      The Draw: See previous sentence. What’s not to love? Come for the magic and stay for the jokes. Or vice versa.

      Target Audience: Magic geeks will surely be out in droves, but Piff transcends any niche art form.


      Derek Smalls, formerly of the band formerly known as Spinal Tap

      At the Vogue Theatre on November 11

      The legendary bassist who sings “It Don’t Get Old” is getting old. He’s 78, but thankfully the mastermind behind Derek Smalls, comic actor Harry Shearer, is only a spry 75.

      The Draw: Even if you didn’t grow up with Spinal Tap, you grew up with Spinal Tap references. You can’t escape the references in pop culture.

      Target Audience: Fans of Goldilocks will appreciate the middle ground between fire and ice that Smalls says he resides in: the just-right “lukewarm water”.


      Just For Laughs Comedy Night in Canada

      At the Orpheum on November 15

      Any show touring of the Great White North could be called Comedy Night in Canada, but this JFL offering has the distinction of offering all-Canadian talent.

      The Draw: The biggest name on the bill is MC Rick Mercer. It also features CBC’s Laugh Out Loud host Ali Hassan and Gemini-winning Debra DiGiovanni. But pay closer attention to superstar in waiting (and Vancouver’s own) Ivan Decker, whose comedy album won a Juno in 2018.

      Target Audience: Loyalists who know Canada’s comics are among the funniest and visitors who should see for themselves.