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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Conan vs Regan vs readers

Sometimes I think I write in a vacuum. It doesn't matter who or what I write about, nary a comment or letter do I get. Oh, I expect that here in this little corner of the blogosphere, but over at the Georgia Straight they get reams of letters on politics, recycling and education. Hell, even the odd rant disagreeing with a theatre review. Yet nothing on comedy. Man, what I'd give to be a part of Payback Time in the Music section, where readers have it out with critics and vice versa.

So you can imagine my glee when I saw my review of the Conan O'Brien travelling road show received a comment on the Straight website. Somebody named jay3 wrote:
you only found it funny at times? you got some serious high standards.
i laughed 2 hours straight and my face hurt the next day.

best show ever.
To which I replied "Guilty as charged." I guess I do have "serious high standards". I thought the Conan show was lots of fun. As I wrote, it was a spectacle more than anything else. There were some laughs, but much of it was crowd-pleasing at its best: trot out a familiar character, run down the aisles to get close to the people, and drop as many local references as possible. That's a surefire way of getting cheap laughs and applause but it's not particularly original or well-crafted. Enjoyable? Sure.

I can't tell anyone what's hilarious to them. I can't say this wasn't the best show ever for them. I can only speak for myself. That's why I wish there were more papers doing regular comedy reviews and features. And why I'd love to see more comments and letters to the editor. Everyone's an expert when it comes to what they find funny. That's not in any way meant as an insult, either.

Two days after Conan's show, I got to see Brian Regan for the second time. Unfortunately I didn't have to review the show. Or maybe that's fortunate. Because I got to sit there without scribbling notes in the dark and just laugh... Yes, laugh. Me. My cheeks even hurt. So take that, jay3! In fact, the friend I went with said he'd never actually heard me laugh before. Regan passed through Vancouver three years ago and I've seen most of his video clips online, so I was expecting a lot of familiar material. But in his 90-minute set, I only recognized one small bit on string theory. The rest was new to me (except for the two requested routines in his encore). The guy is a comedic genius. He is inherently funny.

I was a little saddened at seeing a three-quarters filled lower section, though. But I figured he's still not that big a name in Canada. And I was even more saddened when I kept seeing the guy in front of me check his messages every ten minutes or so. I'm as addicted to e-mail as anyone, but that's beyond the pale. I mean, if you can't sit and enjoy the show without constantly checking an electronic gizmo then you don't deserve to go out. It wasn't until near the end of the performance that it all came together for me. The guy leaned over his date and stage whispered to the person to her right, "It's 2-2" that I clued in there was a hockey game that night. A playoff one yet. Which explained, but certainly didn't excuse, the empty seats and the compulsive internet checking. My God, people. It's a game. Game one, even. Don't they own a PVR? Can't you wait until after the show to get the score? I don't get it.

I won't say they missed the best show ever, but it was the best show of the year. And by far, hands down, the best show of last week.


Anonymous said...

Wait, there's a Georgia Straight website? Learn something new every day... Think I'll stick to this one though. Don't feel too bad about having high standards, comedy or otherwise. Apparently I'm the only person in the world who thought Avatar was a load of garbage but it all pays off when something genuinely good comes through the cinema. A film like Kick Ass can be appreciated on so many levels after all! ;)


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