Three Nights of New-to-Me
Some time ago after doing God knows what at the Rivoli (and I mean material and the possible success of it, not that I was not in control of my faculties and didn’t know what was going on [Though that is completely possible as well. – H!ITVA! Ed.]), fellow comic Ron Sparks approached me to perform for a fundraiser with him and a bunch of other comics. He and Scott McCrickard put together a show where all the funds went to the good people trying to cure MS and cancer. What’s not to love? At least this was a show that I knew what the fundraiser was for, because sadly I’m notorious for hearing the word “fundraiser” and say I’ll be there doing it with the vim and vigour of a man who thinks he knows the answer on “Jeopardy!” but still hasn’t heard the entire question. You’ll know when this backfires on me when you see me inviting you to a fundraiser for Fred Phelps and his “God Hates Daylight Savings Time” campaign. Thankfully, I’d heard of and support these particular diseases. The nature of the show however would turn out to be something completely different for me and would begin a theme for the next two I do over the space of five days. They all had familiar elements to them but there was definitely something new to them.
Ron and Scott’s show was called “Other People’s Stuff”, a show dedicated to cover-version comedy where comedians would purposely take previous material from other people and perform it for a crowd. Now, you normally hear about a show concept like this when comics are discussing Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook, or any other comic that performs material that bears a very striking-if-not-mimeographed resemblance to someone else’s stuff. Usually after the tirade and disgust over the work-theft, discussion turns to how awesome a show dedicated to comedy cover versions would be. At the show itself, it was striking seeing the range of other people’s material that was hitting the stage, and the sources that they were coming from. Tim Steeves emoted the late Mitch Hedberg. Dave Martin emoted Sean Connery doing the material of Neil Hamburger. Laurie Elliott and Kevin MacDonald of Kevlor 2000-fame, reunited to do some SNL sketches. Fraser Young did Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star” routine which I had just recently seen performed with Lego-men. I went armed with Larry Miller’s Five Levels of Drinking, reasons being that I’ve always liked Larry Miller, always liked this bit, and have in late-night discussions with other comics asked “Whose five minutes of anyone out there would you put up as the best?” and stated that this would be the one. It’s compact, it’s single-themed, and most of all funny.
What made the exercise differently is that you’re now rehearsing stand-up material like a script for stage, trying to nail things like timing, motivation, and all that other fun stuff that keeps you away from acting. Plus for me, I wanted to be able to see how the material would fare and indeed see if the five minutes would hold up. I think it did okay as no one lobbed their bottle of Bud at me in a Level-Four rage.
The next night had me hosting [Well, that’s new. – H!ITVA! Ed.] at a show called SquiggFest set up by Robin Dutt, nickname Squiggy. Never heard of the festival? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’d not and the fest was in its fifth year. The festival is an every-Thursday-night-in-August affair where performers of all different disciplines came together to perform. One host would pull the show together and introduce all of the acts, but the acts over the course of the festival could be singers, dancers, stage performers, sketch artists, man-driving-nail-through-head. The variance didn’t end there. Graphic arts were on display as you entered what could only be termed as the Box Office area (table with person behind money box). Artists had dressed up the area with prints they were selling. Folks were selling t-shirts and buttons. They even sold cupcakes. You never knew what you were going to get. The show took place at Reilly’s bar which is a place I’d never been before either. The venue is a huge open wooden space with a huge dance area squared off by a banister that makes it look like it should be housing a mechanical bull or something. It’s good that the space is there because on my night of hosting, it’d be mostly dancers that I bring to the stage. Never done that before, and it showed. Outside of mistaking a costume change for the end of the performance of one of the dancers, the show went quite well. Darryl Miller and comedy-music act Charity and Chastity were the only comedy acts of the show and did well considering that most of the time you don’t have to follow a spinning ensemble in blue unitards. It was a fun night and I’d do it again.
Sunday was the Fox and the Fiddle which I hosted while Jason Blanchard who runs the room took off to go to Ottawa to terrorize the elderly…or host at Absolute Comedy. I can’t be expected to remember all of the details. What made the night new and kind of fun for me was that I’d just bought a microphone and stand and wanted to give them a run. How nerdy is that? [Very. – H! ITVA! Ed.] I was only supposed to buy a mic stand for the show and the rest of the equipment for the show would be provided. But as happens when one goes into Steve’s Music, you don’t leave with just the thing you went in for. So the show? Well, it sounded great through the mic. But the crowd was, well, odd. Talking with comics on the night and afterwards, the crowd seemed to shift constantly. They would be with you at one point and then suddenly depart, forcing me to go up in-between the three-comic pods, get everyone settled, back on the same page, and then ready for the new block of three comics. I’d invite comments from all that performed or observed to help get to the bottom of it, but yeah, it was weird. Could not put my finger on just what made this so odd. Something in the half-price wings? Dunno. Special mention to Joy Acharjee who closed the show and is looking to move here from London, England. Very funny man who you’ll probably be seeing about the city. Definitely worth the look. For now, I’ll just play with my new toys and play “comedian” in the mirror with the new mic stand.