Alternative Comedy Show

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

The Alternative Comedy Show is always one of the best club nights at Montreal – a break from the parade of slick acts talking about relationships in favour of those acts doing more imaginative, distinctive work.

It’s a shame, then, that the normal two-night run of this show has been cut down to one – as host Andy Kindler wasted no opportunity to mention, and complain about. Kindler’s a stalwart of Just For Laughs, thanks to his always entertaining and always over-long State Of The Industry address and his knowing brand of anti-comedy.

His set relies on in-jokes and a self-destructive over-analysis of every line, which makes him a comics’ comic, even if the reaction from regular punters can lukewarm – which, of course, only makes the comedians enjoy him even more. The Alternative Show crowd, however, are his people, and he played them well, and hammily.

One of the best acts on this year’s line-up was the wonderfully original Eugene Mirman, who skilfullly combines silliness with gravitas, using language with absolute precision to get his gags over. His indignant letter plea-bargaining over a speeding fine and his stupid home-made signs which manage to be obscure yet also state the bleeding obvious are a delight, as anyone who saw his recent run at London’s 100 Club with David Cross will well know.

Talking of which Bob Odenkirk, Cross’s co-star on the cult US series Mr Show performed a rare stand-up set. And judging from his quirky, versatile routine, ranging from an impersonation of an X-rated comic with every expletive blanked out, to his topless impression of an out-of-shape heartthrob from the Fifties, it’s comedy’s loss that he doesn’t perform more often.

Zach Galifianakis was also brilliant, both in walk-on parts sabotaging Kindler’s links and his own far-too brief set. And after a couple of wobbly gigs earlier in the week – including, unfortunately, the high-profile gala – Glenn Wool proved he can hit home with the right crowd with his tongue-in-cheek potshots at religion.

Talking of which, God’s Pottery performed a couple of their songs in a style that skilfully mock the disconcerting combination of earnest naivity and religious fervour of happy-clappy Christians. The mimicry is so close to the real thing, it’s scary. Although the duo’s hour-long show in Edinburgh last year stretched the joke too thin, shorter sets such as this are always entertaining.

Sean Lecomber won the Homegrown Comic Competition here for new Canadian acts, and his deadpanned, off-kilter routine about his own inadequacies certainly impressed here. But headliner Sean Cullen, one-time Juice Pig and star of the Canadian tour of the Producers, was rather disappointing. His freestyling improv struggled to hit too many targets, and by this time – 2am – a weary audience needed to know where the punchlines were going to be, and weren’t willing to indulge anyone, no matter how well-known.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
July 22, 2007

Review date: 1 Jan 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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