Fringe Festival Review: dancingmonkeyboy

I feel a smidgen cheated. Tonight, I saw neither dancing (well, save a little sperm jigglin' number) nor any primate-human hybrid, as its title would have you believe, but, regardless, I had a hoot at dancingmonkeyboy.

British comedian Paul Thorne is a pleasure to watch. Although the subjects of most of his wisecracks are nothing incredibly original--the usual suspects (Bush, Harper, terrorism, British bloke observing Canadian niceties) all pay their respects--the show works because of Thorne himself.

He's just so gosh darn likeable. An affable chap with an easygoing stride, Thorne had the audience wrapped around his pinky ere long. He's equally comfortable bantering with the crowd as he is performing his scripted material; in fact, it is with the former that he really seems to shine. An ace at reading his audience, and ragging on just the right folks, Thorne knew just which notes to hit to keep the laugh track going.

With a natural, ambling pace and a self-deprecating tone that charms rather than tries-too-hard, dancingmonkeyboy is just straight up fun. Thorne's someone you'd actually want to go have a pint with on a Sunday afternoon because, unlike many comedians, he makes you laugh without being in your face. If he can get the beer to come out of your nose, great. If not, no sweat. That's the sort of funnyman I dig. The ones constantly and desperately working for that next laugh--and, by Jove, there are a lot of them--make me want to hurt little bunnies.

Thorne, on the other hand, seems like he just couldn't give a damn because, hell, he's having a hoot up there by himself. The audience takes backseat to his own merriment, so whether or not you join him, no matter. Gotta love that attitude. A large part of Thorne's charm can also be attributed to his big goofy grin. It's a genuine ear-to-ear that breaks out naturally, and often. When he tells a joke, he first chuckles to himself, his shoulders shaking as if to say "goddamn I'm funny" and then he looks out to the crowd. By this time, if you're not grinning already--his smile is infectious--he'll toss in a one-liner to get you on the giggly train. And, at that point, resistance is futile.

Though a portion of his jokes touch on politics and current events, Thorne's appeal remains broad. At points, he lets his picking-on-audience antics go a tad too long and the Adam Sandler-esque singing at the end of the show could be cut down for greater per-joke impact. All in all, however, it was a solid show - I giggled, chortled and guffawed my way through most of the buffoonery. While pee-your-pants funny it ain't, dancingmonkeyboy is worth a Fringe visit.

Rating: ***

Remaining showtimes
Wednesday, July 12, 12:30pm
Thursday, July 13, 9:15pm
Friday, July 14, 2:00pm
Saturday, July 15, 3:30pm

Venue 5 - Factory Studio Theatre (125 Bathurst, at Adelaide)

The Toronto Fringe Festival features local, national and international companies at 28 venues. Tickets are $10 or less ($2 surcharge on advance tickets) and discount passes are available. Advance tickets sold up to three hours prior to showtime by phone, online or in person at the Fringe Club (292 Brunswick, at Bloor). At least half of all tickets for each performance go on sale one hour before showtime at the venue. Festival runs until July 16. Fringe Hotline: 416-966-1062.

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