Bubbling With Laughter, Montreal July 23, 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

For the first half of the show, at least, this underattended Bubbling With Laughter had very little fizz.

A fair chunk of blame must lie with compere David Allen Grier, an alumni of TV sketch show In Living Color, who struggled to connect with the audience with his tales of being a 52-year-old twice-divorced man trying to pick up girls in a club. The obvious fact that he’s too old to be acting like that was quickly exhausted and the rest of his material was similarly lacklustre. What if Obama was to start acting like a ‘nigga’ in the White House? Oh, please…

Canadian Dan Levy was equally predictable with his tale of going to Amsterdam – and, yes, drugs were mentioned once or twice. His encounter with Justin Timberlake provided more interesting fodder, but it’s a tale that’s more funny peculiar than funny ha-ha.

Nick Thune, who we’d previously seen on the Amp’d musical comedy showcase ditched the longer-form song in favour of his one-liners, accompanied by his guitar strumming. And what fine gags they are, for the most part: genuinely imaginative wordplay producing some nicely surprising one-liners. For the first time, the gig was looking up.

But then came Patrick Kielty, in his Reservior Dogs-style suit, launching into some sloppy material about Montreal: how there are a lot of strip clubs and how it’s half-French, half-American. But just about every comic who comes here ploughs similar ground, so Kielty’s pedestrian take fell on stony ground among city residents, who might just have noticed such things themselves.

The delivery didn’t help, either – as he paced backwards and forwards he seemed to address his comments to the air in front of him, not the audience, as if his pronouncements were so profound he didn’t need to try to actually connect with hoi polloi. And, urgh, the links. Montreal is a bit like Beyonce, apparently. So now here’s the Beyonce material…

There were a few good lines in his set, that also covered driving a Hummer in Los Angeles and President Obama’s facebook page, but delivered – somewhat surprisingly for an act of his stature - with so little warmth and flair that they were wasted. The biggest laugh he got was doing a ‘fiddle-di-di’ Irish impression.

For one of the biggest comedy stars to emerge from Northern Ireland, Kielty certainly wasn’t looking world-class here. The most charitable explanation is that he’s just finding his feet, this being his first time in Montreal.

The first half was closed by Godfrey, who whipped the audience up in a way compere Green should have done. Nothing too subtle, but a much-needed injection of energy. He performed the best of his Ethnic Heroes of Comedy set, with especially witty lines about his father’s exaggerated tales of poverty. Other material was more middle-of-the-road, but he’s certainly got enough cheek to get away with it.

Mike Paterson, a mainstay of the modest year-round Montreal comedy scene, looks every inch a blue-collar slob, with his mullet haircut and shabby T-shirt, and confessing a love of such simple pleasures of pro-wrestling and pyrotechnics. The set unfolds along predictable lines, each gag reinforcing the image in front of us – but despite this, and a shouty delivery, there’s an underlying charm that makes the set rather sweet, if ultimately unspectacular.

With his towering frame and unkempt shoulder-length hair Tim Nutt, another Canadian, looks like a burly outdoorsman with a penchant for wild living. He is, indeed, a no-nonsense kinda guy who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, as he explains in entertaining detail. These are the pearls of wisdom you feel should be best delivered sat round a prairie campfire, but a comedy club is the next best thing for this compelling, opinionated stand-up.

Irish musical quartet Dead Cat Bounce demonstrated a repertoire beyond the over-long famine epic they attempted at Amp’d the other night. Instead, they treated us to a cheerily upbeat song about psychotic murder and a spot-on parody of R&B similar to one Jerry Minor also performed at the musical showcase, which is perhaps why they didn’t. Musically, the troupe are spot-on, and this set benefited from quicker snippets of songs, that ended soon after the jokes had been exhausted.

Finally, Mike Marino reprised the set he, too, performed at the ethic heroes show all about his Italian-American heritage. He uses every stereotype in the book – that book being The Godfather – yet his performance skills and consistent point of view ensure an enjoyable routine.

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Published: 23 Jul 2009

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