This Week in Comedy: Comedees Stand-Up Showcase, Weight Loss Challenge, Pete Johansson, Whoopi Goldberg, and East End Comedy Revue
She has a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and an Oscar. Cue the "We're not worthy!" bow as I walk you through the latest edition of This Week In Comedy...
SUN MAY 27 / COMEDEES STAND-UP SHOWCASE / SNEAKY DEE'S / 431 COLLEGE W / 930PM / $5
If Dave Merheje can be called the King of Ranting, Jeff Leeson can be called the King of Crowd Work. A few weeks ago at ALTdot Comedy Lounge, I saw him absolutely CRUSH by simply interacting with two tables for his entire set. I'm talking "five to seven applause breaks in the span of 10 minutes" type of crowd work. I honestly don't know anyone else that can do that. I mean, are there comedians that use crowd work to entertain? Sure. It's a great way to engage the audience and show your vulnerability and creativity. But to have it be the best part of your act? Amazing.
SUN MAY 27 / WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE / COMEDY BAR / 945 BLOOR W / 7PM / $10
Rene Payes, one of the friendliest comedians that you'll ever meet, produces an all heavyweight affair, no doubt piggybacking on the similarly themed UFC event happening on Saturday (Frank Mir by sub in the first round). He told me that he's going to be weighing the comics before they go on stage...to be heckled by a scale, eh? That's tough! Also appearing on the show will be Darren Pyle, Blair Streeter, Jason Schlessinger and...Jennifer MacAuliffe?! She doesn't have a weight problem. Besides, as a West Indian lady once told me, 'Only dog does settle fuh bones.' Come to the show and you'll see what I mean!
WED MAY 30 - SUN JUNE 3 / PETE JOHANSSON / YUK YUK'S / 224 RICHMOND W / 8PM / $11-20
Where do you start with a guy like Pete? CTV, CBC, Comedy Central, HBO...the list goes on and on. I just saw that he's playing the Comedy Store in Mumbai freakin' India. Wowzers. I like his comedy because he's figured out a way to present arguments on-stage. For example, in the above clip he uses the premise of liking overweight women to criticize the way the media glorifies their skinny counterparts. Many comedians don't have the ability to take that critical stance and get laughs at the same time. Come to think of it, what made Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin memorable were their arguments, not just the fact that they could make an audience laugh for an hour or two.
FRI JUNE 1 / THE UNBOOKABLES / CROWN AND TIGER / 414 COLLEGE / 8PM / $15
When I first saw Sean Rouse, I was kind of scared. It's not just the material--he has this look in his eyes that...well, take a look at the clip and tell me if you see what I see. That look alone makes his comedy turn from blue to navy. His partner in crime, Andy Andrist, is just as dark. He once delivered a set that got cut from Jim Norton's Down and Dirty stand-up special. Let me say that again: he had his set cut from a dirty-themed comedy show. That should tell you something. I'll be honest, it's not my type of comedy, but I watched the entire clip because his views were so extreme they became compelling.
FRI JUNE 1 / WHOOPI GOLDBERG / ROY THOMPSON HALL / 60 SIMCOE / 730PM / $35-$130
I was born in 1983, so the first time that I saw Whoopi was on Star Trek, giving advice to Jean-Luc Picard as Guinan. That alone speaks volumes--after all, JLP matched wits with the omnipotent Q, for heaven's sake. Whoa, wait a minute: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award?! Now that's what I call prolific. Personally, I love her kind of stand-up: funny and opinionated. What more can I really say? Emmy. Grammy. Oscar. Tony.
SAT JUNE 2 / EAST END COMEDY REVUE / DOMINION ON QUEEN / 500 QUEEN E / 8PM / $20
Sean Cullen is a wonderfully unique comedian. Case in point, it takes a special kind of confidence to begin your set with a joke about your newborn baby while alluding to the Archimedes Principle at the Halifax Comedy Festival. Listen further and you'll recognize that Sean is extremely confident on stage--taking his time and delivering characters that one could almost imagine working at Stratford just as well as they do in a comedy club. An all-star cast featuring Jen Grant and Jeff Elliot rounds out a particularly impressive line-up in this edition of the East End Comedy Revue.
About the Author: This is Michael Jagdeo, and I refuse to write about myself in the third-person. My blog, Diary of a Stand-up Comedian, teaches you how to be - and how not to be - a comedian in Toronto.