Now with photos!
The roast of Mayor Gregor Robertson was definitely one of the stranger roasts I’ve seen.
The roasters weren’t standup comics. How can you do a roast without standup comics, you ask? Simple. The Olio folks decided it would be more fun if they had in-character sketch comics do the insulting instead. Unusual? Yes. Funny? Well, as funny as roasts ever are.
Walking into the 560 Club the night of the roast was like walking into the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas, circa the 1950s. Vintage-style Vancouver postcards were projected on the walls, palm trees were everywhere and Frank Sinatra was singing about a girl.
The awesome atmosphere may have had something to do with the involvement of Cameron McLeod (aka Kyles McKay) and the guys from Hip.Bang – if anyone knows how to set a mood, it’s them.
The show got off to a rather late start due to technical issues, but once things got underway, it seemed to go smoothly.
Ryan Beil, the Sunday Serviceman perhaps more widely known as ‘that guy from the A&W commercials,’ was Roastmaster General. He’s been a staple of the local theatre and comedy scenes for some time, but I’ve never had the chance to see him, so I was pretty excited for this. And Beil didn’t disappoint. He’s got a quick wit and self-deprecating charm to spare, and he kept the show moving along at a steady pace. What more could one ask for in a Roastmaster?
After the 30 minute wait, I found myself getting rather impatient, but I completely forgot to be annoyed once Ryan Beil started the show. His stage presence put me at ease and got me pumped. He was the perfect host for the night.
Only two ‘real people’ appeared onstage. One was city councillor Andrea Reimer. For a non-comedian, she didn’t do half bad. She was also one of two people to really roast His Worship – the actors tended toward affectionate teasing – but even she ended on a sentimental note.
The other was Mike Jackson, president of CUPE local 1004. He was aided and abetted by the Junkyard Dogs, a group of unlikely garbagemen you might recognize as Caitlin Howden, Tom Hill and a guy whose face I couldn’t see. Jackson also did pretty well for a non-comic. Like Reimer, he went a little harder on Mayor Gregor than the actors did. And unlike Reimer (with the help of the Dogs) he ended on a funny note. As far as roasters go, he did pretty damn well.
Reimer did a great job, and like Amanda said, she was one of the only ones to really roast the mayor. Although she wasn’t perfect with her delivery–I understand that she’s not a comedian–her jokes definitely got some laughs out of me.
The other roasters were all characters created by the cast. The standouts for me were Expo Bruno, failed Expo ’86 robot mascot and VPD constable Bill Henderson, who was the only person to call the Mayor out for texting while he was being roasted.
Cst. Henderson pushed the most boundaries, joke-wise, touching on prison sex and Batman. But even he fell shy of actually roasting Gregor. It was a little disappointing, but he was still excellent.
Less strong, but still funny, were Mayor Gregor fangirl Lacy Lewis and Cory Valliers, guy-who-stumbled-onto-the-stage-and isn’t-even-from-here. The fangirl character, while very well acted, didn’t roast the Mayor at all, as she was too busy fangirl-ing over how handsome he is. Guy-who-stumbled-onto-the-stage made a few cracks at Vancouver in general, but didn’t really have much to say about His Worship specifically.
Each comedian brought their character to life but the best one seemed to be Expo Bruno, who was funny because he was such a cute, decade-confused robot, who only knew a time when Gordon Campbell was mayor (back in ’86).
I thought that the rest of the characters provided great entertainment but I did get a bit tired of the running theme of jokes. I guess the most obvious things to tease the mayor about are his good looks and his dedication to the environment.
Some of the most entertaining parts of the evening were the fictional clips of voicemail messages that were supposed to be left on Mayor Gregor’s phone. What kind of people call the mayor? Only Jim Pattison, the Vancouver Public Library (listing the seemingly endless titles of the mayor’s overdue books, which seemed to consist of all of The Hardy Boys series), the Sedins, Chad Kroeger of Nickelback and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to name the most significant.
Overall, the event was very well-written and produced. It felt like a roast, down to the last deliberately unfunny joke. At least, until it was Mayor Gregor’s turn to roast the roasters.
In typical political fashion, he used his time as a campaign speech more than a roast. I should have expected it, but the sheer poor taste of it took me aback. Every public appearance as Mayor is a campaign appearance, sure, but there’s a style of speech for every occasion, and this occasion needed more roasting and less “vote for me, see, I’m a good sport,” style speechmaking.
And seriously, dude. It’s the roast of YOU. Put your damn cellphone away.
I enjoyed the evening and I’m sure Mayor Gregor did as well. He seemed to respond to each joke with laughter (or maybe he was laughing at a funny text he received).
He then took to the podium, on the charm offensive. He did not waste a minute before he got political, as I suspected he would. But the cheers and appause seemed to illustrate that the crowd didn’t mind at all.