Laughing like it’s 2019
If not for the entire staff and a half-dozen-at-most audience members wearing masks, this might seem like any pre-2020 comedy night. Or what standup comedians refer to as “one-nighters,” those gigs that take them out to bars and restaurants, usually in small towns – like Lindsay. There was barely even a passing mention of the dreaded P-word from any of the three performers on this show upstairs at the Pie Eyed Monk last Saturday.
Rebecca Reeds, one of the performers on the bill of this JNT Comedy Tour, spoke of her own conscious decision to avoid any pandemic-related material in the most recent episode of the Advocate Podcast. “When we step out for comedy, I’m here to just entertain you,” said Reeds, a Lindsay native now based in Toronto, a few days before the show at the local eatery. “Let’s not talk about the news, let’s not talk about COVID. Let’s talk about some silliness.”
So, instead of drawing from the headlines of the day – (and any day since that day in March 2020) – there were lots of jokes about everything from, sex to weed, edibles, and recreational drug use — to more on sex. (Even the tour’s posters highlight, a-la-tongue-in-comedian’s-cheek, a “high” level comedy). And the sold out crowd loved every setup, punchline and segue that linked them together.
It certainly wasn’t all R-rated or pot-inspired. The show’s emcee, Andrew Packer, had some clever stuff about lost dogs vs lost cats – that second pet category, because of its innate and aloof independence, “isn’t lost. It probably just moved out.” On the difference between men and dudes: “Men fix things. Dudes don’t.”
And this from Reeds, dishing on that age-old argument of what’s more painful: child birth or a man getting drilled with a ball in the privates. Her summation, which got big laughs, especially from the mothers in the crowd: “I’ve never seen a woman laugh at another woman giving birth.”
The crowd work – when standups go off-script to chat with audience members to mine for those cherished, off-the-cuff laughs – drew some of the loudest applauses. Largely, it could be safely argued, because the group cheers also served as a reminder that this was a live, quasi interactive show featuring performers within arm’s reach of their audience, and not via a Zoom screen. That might also explain why Che Durena, the tour’s headline act, took what appeared to be longer than he typically might to get to his scripted material. When he did, there was no denying his poise, polish and voice – that most elusive of standup traits. And for this crowd of mostly millennials – (which, if you scanned the room, felt like a Fleming College off-campus pub night) – Durena, whose career started taking off thanks to a massive Tik-Tok following, knew how to deliver. Even if you’re not a proponent of any kind of violence, it’d be hard not to chuckle at his observation between a sanctioned UFC fight, and a street brawl captured on YouTube. One starts out with the ring announcer listing the competitors’ lengthy bout credits; while the other merely identifies one of the combatants with, “This guy’s got a red shirt.”
Before the show, Reeds, who’s now touring regularly in this era of “Hey, we’re finally, climbing out of this, right. RIGHT?” mused about a possible return to play her hometown’s venue. That may end up being sooner than later. This stop on the JNT Tour was sold out more than a week ago, with the Pie Eyed Monk room manager stating the restaurant subsequently fielded more than 200 calls from people wanting, but not being able, to obtain tickets.
Denis Grignon is a professional standup comedian and writer who lives near Dunsford. He hosts/produces The Advocate Podcast: Stories from Kawartha Lakes sponsored by Wards Lawyers. Subscribe for free on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.