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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jon Reep at Lafflines

I took the Canada Line and then the SkyTrain all the way out to New West tonight to see Last Comic Standing winner Jon Reep. An hour and five minutes later, I was there. So I missed Kevin Foxx's set, unfortunately. Foxx is one of my favourite Vancouver comics of all time and I haven't seen him in a while. When I walked in, Toby Hargrave was on stage, killing before a large and appreciative crowd. I've figured out one positive to not seeing as much local comedy as I used to, and it's this: Now when I see a local, I don't know their routines by heart and I wasn't there when they were working out new material so I get to see new stuff that's got a bit of polish to it.

Hargrave was doing some relatively edgy race material that walked the line but definitely was on the progressive side of said line. One joke that jumped out was when he was describing that white people have lots to be proud about: "We freed the slaves." That's a smart bit and would be potentially troublesome in a lesser comic's hands.

After Toby came the headliner, Jon Reep, best known for winning the penultimate season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, for which he took home 250 grand. Reep is a good ol' boy from North Carolina and lets us know it at every opportunity. Fair enough. But I had the same feeling I had when watching Trevor Boris talk about nothing but being gay. They say write what you know. I guess I just can't believe that they're both so inward looking that they don't know anything else.

But that's not fair. Neither of these acts is for me. They play to certain demographics. And they both do well. They're entertainers giving their fans what they want to hear rather than artists exploring subjects. And they both can be appreciated for what they are. Certainly there are lines in their acts that are clever and funny, even if the subject matter is uninteresting. In one chunk, Reep dissected down-home sayings like 'there's more than one way to skin a cat' ("How do you know? And stop it!") and 'shit-eating grin' ("I don't ever want to be that happy").

Between shows, I sat down with Jon for a 25-minute interview and we'll air that one tomorrow night, too (technically tonight but I haven't gone to bed yet). Sunday in either case. So that's a helluva show: Jon Reep and Tom Segura. More on that sometime tomorrow (Sunday).

I stuck around a bit for the second show. As hot as the first crowd was, the late show audience was dead. I noticed it when some great Foxx jokes got mild laughs, but it really hit home when Colleen Brow hit the stage. It was as if she was giving a speech. Rapt attention but silence. And it wasn't golden. I actually kind of enjoyed it in the way that seasoned comics love it when someone tanks. But only because I've seen Colleen get great responses with essentially the same material. And God bless her for plowing through her set without commenting on the crowd. More comics should do that.

All these years of watching comedy and I still can't figure out crowd dynamics, and why the same material that kills one night dies a miserable death the next. But it's fun to watch either way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That bit you mentioned Tony Hargrave doing reminded me of something I read in a book last year. It was about the history of humanitarian intervention, the same book that enlightened me as to Byron's involvement in the Greek war of independence. Apparently several thousand British naval personnel died enforcing the edict against slavery after it was outlawed. This detail seems to have been neglected in most textbooks, but I suspect getting kudos from future generations was never the point of the exercise.