Oh boy. This is hard for me to write.
Last night’s comedy show at Darby’s was a bit of a letdown.
This comedy night, created by Patrick Maliha, has a great reputation and I expected nothing but great things from it, but ultimately, it left me tired.
The show started out very strong with Sam Easton as MC, whose almost childlike mannerisms kept the crowd excited and hopeful that they would see top quality comedy. A while ago I saw Easton perform for the first time, and he instantly won me over. That has not changed. In fact, I would bet good money that anyone seeing him for the first time would feel the same.
Adam Pateman followed, and his nerdy personality worked well on the bar crowd, to my surprise. Pateman has been living in New York for a while, so hopefully I’ll get to see more of him back here in Vancouver. He didn’t stand out as the best of the night, but I feel like in a more personal atmosphere, he would bring the house down.
Roman Danylo then tested some new material on the audience and it worked wonderfully, which only goes to show that Danylo is still one of the best comedic offerings Canada has.
Now, for my favourite part of the night. I must warn you, I’m going to compliment the heck out of the next performer, who made her comedic debut. But she absolutely deserves it. Jo Law took to the stage with jokes about race, gender and sex, subjects that are all too common to comedy. But her delivery was flawless. I was nearly tipping over in my chair I was laughing so hard. Law has all the ingredients of a star comedian. To be able to hold her own, and get some of the biggest laughs, against comedians like Danylo and Patrick Maliha is a big deal and, readers, take notice, because as long as she sticks with what she clearly has a knack for, she is bound for the big leagues.
The middle of the show was, unfortunately, riddled with mediocre material from comics like Ryan Lachance, Larke Miller, and Tanyalee Davis. Lachance didn’t particularly say anything memorable, Miller was playing a little too ditzy for my taste, and Davis just found safe ground between edgy and clean humour. It was all a little boring.
Ben McGinnis and Ivan Decker were the next two in line, and both proved to me that comedy, right now, is a younger person’s game. They are both very relevant and cool in their delivery and are nothing short of brilliant.
And last but not least, Maliha, the headliner. He had a hit-and-miss night and, honestly, I think it was because the crowd was tired. I was hoping Maliha would be able to read the fact that people leaving at quarter-to-midnight and sitting at their tables with their heads in their hands wasn’t opportunity to joke at their expense, but rather a sign that it was time to wrap things up. Don’t get me wrong, Maliha is a very talented and funny guy, but he simply ran on too long.
Although the show started to wear thin halfway through the night, I would still recommend Tuesday’s at Darby’s to anyone looking for a taste of great Vancouver comedy.
Tuesday night comedy at Darby’s had a full roster of some of Vancouver’s best comics last night – so full that the 9:30 show lasted till after midnight. Now, usually, I’m not one to complain about getting a whole lot of comedy for five bucks. But if there had just been six comics instead of ten, headliner Patrick Maliha might not have had to scold audience members for looking tired during his set.
The vibe of Darby’s suits comedy; it’s laid-back and well-worn. But the layout of the room was somewhat problematic. The stage is in a corner between two large windows which afford lovely views of Fourth and Macdonald while allowing passersby to gawk at the comics. It’s distracting for the performers and the audience – there was a veritable crowd outside staring in at Ryan Lachance, who’s quadriplegic, and Tanya Lee Davis, who’s a little person. It seems like a minor detail, but it’s very hard to focus on performances when there’s so much going on around them. (Yes, I know a good performer should be able to work around that, and most of the comics did, but it was still annoying.)
Another big issue was the soundsystem. Some comics sounded fine, but for a few, like Ben McGinnis and Ivan Decker, were incredibly loud and distorted because the mic hadn’t been adjusted for their louder delivery. Having a tech or a more thorough soundcheck could have eliminated this problem altogether.
Sam Easton was this week’s emcee. I saw him open for Brent Butt at the Comedy Mix in February and wasn’t incredibly impressed with him, but he completely killed at this show. He’s very likeable, he owns the stage, and his physicality and delivery are both spot-on. Plus, he’s hilarious.
The first comic of the night was ex-pat Adam Pateman. He’s a little nerdy, which was refreshing, and the anecdotal style of his jokes worked well for him. His delivery is excellent, loud but not monotone, and he’s got lots of personality onstage. But he did tend to get a little swept away in his stories. He’s enjoyable, though, and with a little more focus and polish he could really kill.
Roman Danylo, of Comedy Inc. fame, went up next. He’s more of a sketch comic than a standup guy lately, but he was trying out some new standup material, so the audience got to see him for five bucks. If it weren’t for his Monday show at Rowan’s Roof, that’d be a rare thing. Danylo, of course, is a seasoned performer, so he’s comfortable on stage and it shows. His jokes were a little cliche, but they were well-delivered and funny.
New Vancouverite Jo Law followed Danylo. Most of her jokes centred around her half-black heritage, but she sprinkled in enough other subject matter that she didn’t come off as a hack. She was at home onstage – comfortable enough to shotgun a beer as the punchline to a joke – and had a relaxed sort of charm that made her even funnier. Plus, she had a really good abortion joke, which is difficult to pull off in a pub in Kits. She’s got tons of personality and tons of potential.
It’s not very often you see a comic like Ryan Lachance. Why? He’s quadriplegic. Now, I’m going to be frank. And people are probably going to get offended, but the purpose of this review is as much to help the people being reviewed as it is to inform the public, so I’m going to say it anyway. I enjoyed Lachance’s set, and it takes balls to go up and do comedy when you’re a little different than everyone else. But he used his condition as a crutch for the comedy, and that got a little tiresome after a while. I probably would have loved his set if he’d just branched out a little more. That said, I appreciate the fact that he went up at all, and I hope he keeps at it, because I want to see him bring down a room on the basis of his writing, not the fact that he’s in a wheelchair.
Lark Miller followed Lachance, and she bombed. She’s blond and pretty, with that “look at me, I’m adorable” demeanour that a lot of female comics seem to affect. It didn’t work. Her material, for the most part, had been done before, and she kept going for what seemed like hours. Somebody should have given her the red light after three minutes of the audience shifting uncomfortably, for her sake as much as ours. She was obviously uncomfortable onstage (and as someone who “travels a lot doing comedy,” that’s not a good thing) and she tended toward a meek, whining delivery, which bogged down a lot of the jokes. If she could have looked at the audience and spoken with more confidence, her set would have been twice as funny.
Veteran Vegas entertainer Tanyalee Davis was up next. She was funny, not hilarious, but truly enjoyable to watch. She’s a little person, and she made a lot of “I’m a little person” jokes, but she didn’t hang her whole set on that. She flirted with the guys in the audience, she was active onstage, and she was confident. It was a fun few minutes.
So was Ben McGinnis’ set. We’ve seen him a few times, and every time, he’s done very well. His writing is really strong, and he finds the perfect balance between looking shy and withdrawn and having confidence onstage. And he’s completely mastered the art of stretching out a silence. I never get tired of watching him stare down an audience.
There’s staring down an audience, and there’s talking to some members of the audience so much that the others get bored and restless. Unfortunately, Ivan Decker did the latter. He was a bit of a big presence for such a small space, too. But there were some good jokes buried in all that, and overall, he was fun.
Headliner Patrick Maliha was also big on the crowd interaction, to the point where it distracted from the jokes. He’s a self-professed dick, which is awesome, and usually he’s pretty enjoyable. But, unfortunately he got a bit lost in rambling storytelling this time, and it just wasn’t as good as I know he can be. The crowd felt the same; people trickled out the door steadily from the time he began. Maliha went on for way too long (especially considering when he started it was 11:30 on a Tuesday), but, luckily, he’s a great sketch/impressionist. He managed to pull out a very funny western-porn skit around midnight featuring Arnold Schwartzenegger, Obama, Homer Simpson, Lady Gaga and Betty White, among others. As he said it would, it did somewhat salvage the show.
It just wasn’t quite enough to completely redeem it.