NXNE Comedy: Saturday Night Recap

It was another big night at NXNE with a slew of show’s across the city. Most notably, Greg Behrendt’s long-anticipated shows at Comedy Bar truly lived up to the hype. Greg is a true performer (and really nice guy) who still strives to create something new; an attribute congruent with the festival’s hardest working artists.

Of all of last night’s show (including the Dark Show, That New York Show, Vapor Central, among others), we’re presenting to you Greg Behrendt 10:30pm, Comedy Records, Fan Fiction: The Walking Dead and NXNE Presents.

Here’s how it all went down:

GREG BEHRENDT, Comedy Bar, 10:30pm
By: Taylor Erwin

Background: Greg Behrendt was a full-time touring standup for 15 years until one day, acting as a script consultant for Sex and The City, he uttered the phrase “he’s just not that into you.” Overnight, Greg became an “international relationship expert.” Although it brought people to his shows, they weren’t there for his stand up; instead, they arrived expecting relationship advice, a common theme slowly suffocating his true passion for stand up. Needing to break the shackles, Greg left stand up.

Now, after his hiatus, Greg’s passion-fuelled return to the stage as a comedian has left a trail of theatre’s and audience across North America blown-away by his performances. Apparently, Greg’s show the previous night at the Paintbox Bistro left “nothing but a smoking crater in Regent Park.” We were understandably excited to have the opportunity to see his work.

Performance: Strong. The show’s producer, Empire Comedy Live, paired Greg’s headlining set with several promising local comedians.

Host Andrew Ivimey kicked off the night with his enthusiastic set. A self-confessed nerd, Andrew’s jokes focused on the personal integrity of nerds, superheros, and condoms. His clean appearance juxtaposed his occasional dirty joke, surprising the audience repeatedly, inducing laughter throughout his set.

Chris Allin, a rising comedian well respected within the comedy community, showcased his talent through a high-energy, personal and physical performance. His self-deprecating jabs about how he’s an aging hipster were incredibly original, while his quinoa riff proved he wasn’t afraid to take risks and have fun on stage. The height of Chris’ performance occurred with his story of the moment he pinpointed when the sexual-zeal of his long-term relationship had ended, ‘gaily running for food.’ Dont’ worry, we didn’t spoil anything- Chris’ is the only person who could ever perform his own material; we suppose that’s why we adored him…

Michelle Shaughnessy gave a funny, light-hearted performance. Her uncomplicated style focused on the two most important respects of stand up: jokes and persona. Although it sounds simple, crafting material to coincide with the performers true voice is a difficult task. Michelle manages to pull it off in her material covering men and women, cheating in relationships, and breaking her foot.

The long-anticipated set of Greg Behrendt was simply great. His experience on stage was exemplified in the first 15 minutes of his set when he riffed on the material of his opening comics. During this period (and more times than once), Greg would ask the audience, “what am I even saying? This isn’t part of my set!” No matter, the audience loved it.

He began his real set by telling the audience the comprehensive (and hilarious) story of his own personal journey of his success, where’s he’s at, and why he loves stand up. In retrospect, what began as an introductory story actually transformed into the foundation of his entire performance with intermitten tangets, asides and riffing. His utterly hilarious stories of fatherhood, his daughter’s imaginary friend, and growing up as a punk-rock kid in suburban America absolutely killed.

Greg wasn’t just comfortable on stage- he was excited to be there. He would pace around, walk into the audience, grip the mic stand and launch into riffs, always coming back with, “what the hell was I saying?” Overall, Greg’s performance lived up to the anticipation and was best surmised by the star himself when, in a story about making his daughters laugh while wearing a My Little Pony headband, Greg yells onstage, “I’m back, baby!”

Best Moment: Although there were many great aspects of Greg’s set, one particular moment caused the room to erupt. Amidst one of his stories, Greg delivered a joke throwaway (a line delivered in passing) to give perfect (and appropriate) context to his story- it just so happens the line centered around Bill Cosby in WW2, followed by a killer impression. We can’t say it without giving it all away…but it was amazing.

Add to your Comedy Radar: Greg Behrendt. View his website.

By: Taylor Erwin

Background: Fan Fiction is original fan-generated scripts and stories from authors all over the world performed live by Toronto’s funniest comedians. After months of standing room only events centered around Star Wars, The Hobbit, Star Trek, and more, Fan Fiction returns with their latest instalment on the popular TV show The Walking Dead.

Pre-Show Hype: High: Producer Adam Ward has brought the Fan Fiction comedy series onto the forefront of Toronto’s underground alternative comedy scene and onto the radar of Toronto’s media (often the weekend recommendation of BlogTO, Toronto.com, The Torontoist and more). This installemanet of Fan Fiction was the weekend pick of Toronto.com who advised NXNE comedy shows which should not be missed include: 1) Dylan Moran, 2) Debra DiGiovanni, and 3) Fan Fiction.

Performance: Awesome. With the entire cast performing in professional zombie makeup, the cast’s reading of obtuse fan fiction made it that much more ridiculous. The show’s host Diana Bailey came on stage with a man-slave sex zombie and delivered a truly funny introduction which compelled several audience members in the crowd to say aloud “she’s funny.” A smoke machine filled the room while the differing troupes (Rulers of the Universe, Adam’s improv duo The Sushi Boys, and The Weaker Vessels) delivered intense readings of dramatic scenes.

A few phenomenal moments throughout the night included a scene were Rick, a hardened former Sheriff’s Deputy, arrives in a deserted bar and begins to relax by playing 50 Cent on the jukebox while watching explicit online videos from a found laptap: “Rick was chillin’ out, jammin’ to 50, sippin’ on Bacardi, and watching lesbian porn with an Asian and an Ebony, but he wasn’t jerkin’ off because he was too class to do that in public.” Yes, that was real fan fiction written by a die-hard fan. At another time, the cast broke out into a Walking Dead rendition of Aladdin‘s “I Can Show You the World,” except about undead. There were so many amazing moments.

Best Moment: The funniest moment’s where the author’s notes stated throughout the increasingly ridiculous scenes. The author described a zombie that looked liked Johnny Depp, “his face looked like a zombie version of Captain Jack Sparrow, but his hair was in a big-ass pompadour- like in Cry Baby.” The author then qualifies it: “Author’s Notes: Don’t even ask me how I know about Cry Baby, it came out like before I was even born. I’m just a big fan of Johnny Depp. No homo.”

Verdict: You really need to go see the next instalment of Fan Fiction: Sailor Moon. (Just make sure you know the background of the show!)

Comedy Records, The LOT, 8:00pm.
By: Michael Jagdeo

Background: En subway to the show, I was feeling kind of down because I bombed all of my scenes at my adult improv class, not because I bombed, but because I went to an adult improv class. The LOT, brainchild of Comedy Records labelmates Mark DeBonis and Garrett Jamieson, was filling up quite nicely when I arrived. I said hello to Nick Reynoldson, one of the night’s comics, and felt happy because I was the blackest brown guy in the room.

Pre-Show Hype: Over the past few months, I’d been hearing a ton of hype about Paul Thompson and Daniel Woodrow, and wanted to see what everyone was talking about.

The Performance: Paul Thompson lived up to the hype. In the beginning, many comedians are afraid to stray from their material, thinking that the more laughs they get, the better they are doing. However, in my opinion, there is something to be said about someone being consistently interesting and unique compared to the rest of the line-up, and that’s what Paul was able to achieve. His ability to improvise and deliver material is creating a foundation for his act that will prove huge dividends when he gets to the big stage.

Not to be outdone, Daniel Woodrow killed. In contrast to Paul, Daniel’s act largely consisted of delivering material, but the material itself was so good that he really didn’t need anything else.

Your headliner, Debra Digiovanni, slayed from bell to bell. Her staccato delivery had the audience laughing at the old joke while she proceeded to set up a new one, which resulted in multiple applause breaks throughout her set.

Best Moment: I’m not a fan of props on stage, but Amanda Brooke-Perrin’s ringtone of Peter Dinklage saying, ‘Hi Amanda’ with the Game of Thrones theme song playing in the background was obsessive and nerdy enough to win me over. Did everyone like it? No. But part of me is happy that she’s sharing an important part of herself, and I think that’s what comedy is all about.

Our Verdict: Another great instalment from Comedy Records.

Add To The Comedy Radar: Paul Thompson and Daniel Woodrow. They have the material, the talent, and the height to make it big.

Tonight’s shows: SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013

Comedy Bar — Main Space – 945 Bloor St.
8:00 pm — The Sketchersons(90 min)
The Danforth Music Hall – 147 Danforth Ave
8:00 pm — Donnell Rawlings (approx. 100 min)
THE LOT Comedy Club – 100A Ossington Ave
8:00 pm — Comedy Records Presents (90 min)
10:00 pm — NXNE Presents (90 min)
The Panasonic Theatre – 651 Yonge St.
8:00 pm — Dylan Moran (approx. 100 min)

About The Author: Taylor Erwin

Taylor Erwin, 26, is creator, editor and CEO of Comedy Uncovered. A screenwriter, comedian, producer, copywritert, and life-long fan of comedy, he’s now committed his talents and skills to a series of diverse projects until he “gets his.” After obtaining an engineering degree from Ryerson University, he migrated to New York City. It was here, while working on a series of large industrial construction projects, he immersed himself in the NYC comedy scene which left a great impression on him. Returning to Toronto with new found inspiration and vigor, he wrote and performed two one-man shows, left his engineering job and traveled abroad. Currently back in Toronto, he spends his time performing, writing, and, as Taylor puts it, “livin’ the dream.”