This Thursday’s Comedy at the Kingston was fantastic. The space is great for comedy, rough enough to give the right atmosphere, but clean and well-kept, which is always nice. Host/showrunner Johnny Scoop prides himself on attention to detail and it shows – things started with jazzy theme music and ended perfectly within the promised 90 minutes, leaving the audience wanting more. The lineup was impressive, too. I would definitely seek out most of the comics again.
The show started out a little slow. Opener Chris James was a bit of a slow burner, but it was worth listening to the the first part of his act to hear his closing. It’s not everybody who can actually pull off a Facebook joke. His delivery was a little rushed, but then, so was he. He was headlining another club right after his set at the Kingston.
Jon Bennett was up next. He’s Australian and tiny, so he came off as rather likeable, but not overly memorable. The set was interesting. It started out with some pretty cliche (but well-delivered) stuff. And then he pulled a boomerang out of his pocket. SPOILER ALERT: The joke was that the boomerang was like his father. It didn’t come back. But he delivered it with such gravitas that you couldn’t tell whether he was joking. As a bit on its own, it was awkward in the Gervais/Galifinakis vein, and it was brilliant. But it didn’t flow well with the rest of his material, which largely centred around bad poetry and a book he made in which he took photos of himself pretending everyday objects were his cock. It was all funny if taken separately, but together, it just didn’t quite work. Bennett is definitely promising, though.
The last time I saw Greg Kettner perform, it was in the midst of an all-pro lineup at The Comedy Mix, and I’ve got to say…he didn’t impress me much. He didn’t establish a rapport with the audience and things just kind of fell flat after that. He was much better tonight at the Kingston. I still found him kind of frustrating, though. He’s got presence, he’s relaxed, he uses the stage well…but there’s something missing. He just doesn’t quite connect with his audience, doesn’t quite push the jokes far enough. He’s like the Vancouver equivalent of Jim Belushi. The DNA is there, but the execution, not so much.
Ottawa’s own Sophie Buddle, on the other hand, pushes the jokes so far it’d make a prostitute blush. I will freely confess that I don’t usually respond well to female comics (reverse sexism?) but Buddle is fucking fantastic. She comes on all cutesy and sweet, but holy Chaplin can she bring the raunch. It’s cleverly written raunch, though. You don’t see it coming. She also uses a lot of wordplay and absurdity, which is always great. If you have a chance to see this girl, absolutely do. She is going places.
Johnny Scoop did something a little different this time. He put up Shane Szarapka, who had never done comedy before, on a Thursday night on a roster full of pros. And Szarapka owned it. Watching him, you’d hardly believe it was his first time. His delivery was solid, he was confident, and he used the stage really well. His writing wasn’t super original, and it tended toward long stories, which is always hard to pull off, but he managed. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was in a room full of his friends. But there’s some potential there.
One of my favourite comics of the night was Mathew Mitchell, of Louisiana. His set was so consistently funny I completely forgot to drink my beer or even write notes. He never overplayed his Southern charm, and he didn’t shy away from any subject. It’s not very often you hear a Jesus joke, an abortion joke and the word “fiddlesticks” in one set. There was some wordplay, some harmonica-playing and talk of Unicorns. It was the perfect mix of controversial, absurd and cute. Again, if you get a chance, check this guy out. He’d be worth sitting through two hours of Tom Papa for.
Mitchell was a hard act to follow, and, unfortunately, Halifax’s Mathew Labucki didn’t do a great job of it. He started with some pretty good material, but his tendency to say “fuckin” and “retard” a lot kind of buried the funny. He also threw in a George W. Bush joke off the top, which was both dated and unoriginal. He also had a deaf joke. I have to give him credit, his imitation of a deaf person’s speaking voice was very good. But the punchline was only mediocre, which is never a good thing with a controversial joke. Overall, though, I probably would have enjoyed him quite a bit if he hadn’t gone on so damn long. By the end of his set, people were chatting and my beer was completely empty, which meant I wasn’t laughing nearly enough.
Darren Elmore did a very short surprise set in between Labucki and headliner Sean Emeny. There’s not much to say except that he was awesome and it was over too soon.
And then there was headliner Sean Emeny.
Dude is fucking hilarious. I was a little skeptical of him at first because he’s fresh off his big People’s Champ contest win and there’s a lot of hype around him now. But he deserves all of it. He does short jokes, and he does them well. But the coolest thing about his set is that the whole thing weaves together. He tells a joke off the top then references the punchline in an even funnier joke toward the end. It’s practically poetic. Plus, he’s completely adorable, his giggle is infectious, his timing is magnificent and there’s an awkward charm to his stage presence. His set was fairly long, but it only felt like two minutes. That’s a hard trick to pull for a standup comic.
See him soon, before LA steals him.
An Aussie, a Louisianan, a newbie and a local competition winner all made for an amazing night of Comedy at the Kingston on Thursday.
Hosted by Johnny Scoop, this week’s pro-am showcase featured some of the best jokes I’ve heard in months in one of the best rooms the city has to offer.
Nine comics took to the stage, starting with Chris James, who did a decent four minutes of material. Ultimately, it was nothing memorable, likely due to the fact that he needed to be out of there quick as he was headlining at another location shortly after. Perhaps if I get the chance to see him on another night when he’s not so rushed for time, I’ll enjoy him more.
The aforementioned Aussie, John Bennett, went up next and threw me for a loop when he began delivering a very dramatic comparison between a boomerang and his father who left and never returned. I sat in awe, confused and a little unsure if what I was seeing was real or not. I love dry humour as much as the next dry-humour lover, but I felt as though it went on a little too long and, like the boomerang, wound up going nowhere. The man has potential, but I fear that his comedy may be better suited for his home nation.
At this point in the night, I was beginning to crave something a little more interesting that what I had been seeing so far. Local funny man Greg Kettner followed that thought and though he was a little too slow paced for me, his comparison of himself to John Goodman (it’s true, he does look quite a bit like him), and an amazing bit about “broners”, which I won’t ruin by going into detail, kept me interested and laughing. What I love most about Kettner is his personality. He can make fun of someone in the audience, but it never comes off as malicious. He’s got a knack for knowing where to draw the line.
Up next was Sophie Buddle of Ottawa. It was my second time seeing her, and while her material remained the same for the most part, I am not afraid to say that she is one of the funniest female comics I have ever seen. In fact, scrap that female bit. She is quite simply one of the funniest people I have seen in months. She held her own extremely well, absolutely brought the house down with her dirty and edgy jokes, and was by far one of the best of the night. It wasn’t until she went up that I started getting in a real comedy groove.
Clearly, Buddle was going to be a hard act to follow. So, who better to follow her than a newcomer to the stand-up world? Shane Szarapka did his very first stand-up gig ever that night and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how scary it must have been to know that he was going to follow such a killer performance. But, to my surprise, Szarapka did a damn good job for his first time. Sure, some jokes fell flat, and yes, he may have used “fuck” far too much, but what had me hooked was his confidence. He didn’t look scared and he didn’t sound it either. He had the balls to give off a kind of “I’m one of the pros” vibe. And at times, he seemed like he was a pro. I see good things in his future of comedy.
Next, Louisiana was represented by Matthew Mitchell, whose southern accent and well-kept beard were only the icing on the cake that was his comedy. He reminded me a little of one of my favourite comics of all time, Mitch Hedberg, in that he had a very quick wit and timing about him. Now I keep wishing he was from Vancouver so I could see more of him.
Halifax resident Matthew Labuki followed, and brought the night to a bit of a halt. His material was all very long and lacking any real punch, and it seemed as though he wasn’t confident in his own humour. Unfortunately, the downfall for him was when people in the audience began talking, very audibly, to each other instead of listening to him. And when he was done, I was relieved, a feeling that is never good for comedy. Hopefully time will make Labuki better.
Darren Elmore made a special appearance after Labuki, and did a solid few minutes of comedy. I wish I had gotten to see a little more of his act. I fully intend to do so now.
Finally, the headliner of the evening and recent winner of The People’s Champ Comedy Competition for 2011, Sean Emeny made his way to the stage and absolutely killed it. I am not the least bit surprised he won the competition. Emeny has excellent timing and a charming personality. Best of all, when a joke doesn’t go over very well, he recovers from it perfectly without missing a beat. If you have yet to see Emeny doing his thing, you should get on it pretty quick.
Overall, the night was a success and showcased some of the best comedy Vancouver, Canada and the world has to offer. Johnny Scoop knows how to put together a good comedy show.