At various venues from Thursday to Saturday, February 23 to 25
And just like that, it’s over. Two weeks of comedy shows, big and small, at venues throughout the city are over. Now it’s back to business as usual—still multiple comedy shows per night, but not as many.
On February 23, the legendary political satirist Barry Crimmins hit the Biltmore. He’s been laying it on the American government for over 40 years, and kept his foot on the pedal on this night. Slowed by a bum leg and a cracked rib from a recent run-in with a truck, Crimmins was measured at first, throwing out killer but unrelated lines, never really getting into one subject for too long. He talked about Trump, naturally, and southern racists and hack comedians.
But when the subject of Hillary Clinton came up, he exploded into life with an extended rant. “She couldn’t be a bigger part of the patriarchy if she had an 11.5-inch cock!” Crimmins has played Vancouver before as an opener to both Steven Wright and Billy Bragg, but this was his first extended set here.
Trevor Noah was as charming and popular as he was last year the same night, at the Queen E. For a guy who hosts a real fake-news show, though, his political material felt tacked on (although he does a great Trump impression). The bulk of his act we saw last year: his fish-out-of-water shtick gets less relevant with each passing year he lives in the States. Granted, the stories and jokes—a Three’s Company–worthy mix-up with the word napkin when he tries his first taco, ordering Indian food with an Indian accent—are fun, but less so the second time around.
He ended the evening by using the N-word well over 30 times. That bit, too, hinged on a confusion, this time between the charged slur and its meaning in another language. The point was to take away the word’s power, but maybe it’s not such a good idea to leave it ringing in everyone’s head on the way out.
Making his first appearance in the city was Colin Quinn at the Rio Theatre the next night. He was debuting his new show, Bully. I loved the show’s scope. He talked about bullies in all their forms, at work everywhere from politics to barrooms to the office to prehistoric caves, the animal kingdom, and ancient Greece and Rome. So many great lines, but I can’t wait to see the show once he’s performed it more. His brain moves faster than his famously mumbling mouth, so it felt scattershot. He’d get halfway through a sentence and then abandon it for a different take. But once he gets it down, it’s going to be fantastic.
Sarah Silverman apologized for starting her show half an hour late and making the crowd go through metal detectors at the Queen E. on February 24. Turns out her tweet of a few weeks ago was causing her all sorts of problems: “I’m sorry I called for a military coup! I knew it was a long shot, obviously!” she joked. We saw a new Silverman, one who wasn’t as setup/punch-line heavy as the last time she was here. Stories of her new dog, and her sisters were just as funny as any thought-up gag, but buttressed by truth (and her weird brain).
Andy Kindler’s Alternative Show at the Rio was highlighted by Jaden Basie, a Biebs-like hip-hop kid (and creation of Vancouver’s Katie-Ellen Humphries) who tagged every joke by pointing at someone in the audience and saying, “This guy’s been there! He know what I’m talking about!” But the character had an unexpected depth, too. He/she was a crowd favourite even in a show with the hilarious Todd Glass, who had fun with musical cues and Kindler heckling him from off-stage and on-.
When he left the stage after 25 minutes, Kindler said, “Todd, the Interminable Premises Company called and they said, ‘Good job!’ ” These two should form a comedy team. I’m no fan of overly long standup rosters, but my only complaint about the Alternative Show was that it was too short, with only four guest comics per installment.