Okay, let’s get this out in the open right off the top: I’m not a big fan of pre-recorded comedy. I prefer the immediacy of live shows, and I hate commercial breaks, laugh tracks and choppy editing.
Thankfully, Paul Breau and the team behind thestandupcomedians.com took people like me into consideration when producing their series of standup specials shot at the Waldorf Hotel.
Graham Clark’s was the first of those specials to be released. It doesn’t have commercial breaks. There are no awkward blackouts, no weird, out-of-focus, from-behind shots and no fancy, distracting sets. The audience’s physical reactions line up with their laughter.
It is, simply, standup comedy as it was performed. For someone with my comedy viewing preferences, that’s very refreshing.
Clark, the amply-bearded host of Stop Podcasting Yourself (which was just nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award, yay!), is an affable, likeable onstage presence.
He doesn’t push many boundaries in this 53-minute set, sticking to the Vancouver basics: homelessness, transit woes, vegetarianism and environmentalism.
But if you’re looking for biting political comments on these subjects, you’re looking in the wrong place. Clark handles them subtly, through silliness and surreality rather than anger.
I found this set a bit uneven – I laughed out loud much more often during the first half than the second. Even the encore joke (which was a nice touch, but not that effective) started stronger than it ended.
The audience seemed attentive and engaged throughout the entire thing, but there weren’t a lot of big laughs from them. As I mentioned before, I hate laugh tracks, so it was nice to see that. But it would have been even nicer had the show been so good that the audience was losing their minds laughing.
Overall, it was a comfortable, enjoyable 53 minutes of comedy. Certainly worth the $5, especially for Graham Clark/ SPY fans, but not, perhaps, a life-changing comedy experience.
If you want to purchase Graham Clark’s special, or if you, like me, are already excited to see the rest of the specials in this series, visit thestandupcomedians.com.