Monday, May 3, 2010

Comedy Funtimes!

I went to Toronto last weekend, and the weekend before to see some awesome comedy at Massey Hall theatre. It's a big, beautiful and old venue that, while seating 3000 people, still feels cozy. I saw two shows, the first was Craig Ferguson, the second was Eddie Izzard.

Craig Ferguson - April 23, 2010 9:30pm -

While at the Massey Hall website to book for Eddie Izzard, I saw that Craig was doing a show, so I booked myself a ticket. Craig Ferguson is a Glaswegian comedian who has now immigrated to the USA and hosts the Late Late Show. I was in row K and quite giddy for comedy since I hadn't seen any live standup since Jamie Kilstein in October. The opening act, Randy Kagan, came on and did about 15 minutes. Decent, but generic standup, getting the best response for jokes about Ferguson. Craig came on stage with two characters from the Late Late Show, for a short musical number. I was a bit surprised that he brought characters from the show to his gig, but they got a great response from the audience. The first thing I noticed was that Ferguson was wearing tight, white jeans, a rather unusual look for him. They were a bit blinding under the stage lights. Shortly after coming on stage, Ferguson said that he was going to 'try something new' with us by telling us a joke. He was delightfully sweary, talking about sex education, his (newest) wife & Tiger Woods, with the largest audience response coming from talking about celebrities who had been on the Late Late Show. Throughout the delightful stories he kept coming back to the 'joke' which he was going to tell us. After about an hour on stage, Craig finally revealed that the joke was from one of his comedy heroes, a comedian by the name of... Bernard Manning. The 3000 people in Massey Hall didn't respond to this name. Except for an audible 'awwww' of disappointment that escaped my lips. Craig Ferguson had built up to the climax of his show, which this joke:
I bought my wife a vibrator and a pair of shoes for her birthday. If she doesn't like the shoes, she can go fuck herself.
The joke is fine, but it's no way to end a show. And saying how much he liked Bernard Manning certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. After that, the two characters from the Late Late Show came back on stage and the trio left us with a dance to 'Oops, I did it again' which is apparantly a callback to this part of the show (minus the puppets). I guess I just don't watch his show enough to have appreciated that. For a more positive review of the show, and pictures, from a diehard Late Late Show fan, go here.

I came to the show expecting 2 hours of great standup from veteran standup Craig Ferguson. Instead, Craig relied on the fact that most of the audience watched his TV show on a nightly basis, and did a more sweary version of that.

Eddie Izzard - May 1, 2010 8:00pm -

After what can only be described as a disappointment from Ferguson a week earlier, I was super excited to see Eddie Izzard live for the first time! I brought my 2 friends this time, and we all had a great time! Eddie came out on stage, with no warm up act, and did what he does best for 3 hours (with a tiny 15 minute interval). A marathon show! I have seen lots of Eddie's previous shows on DVD and on youtube, but his style is something that takes some getting used to live. He came onstage to a standing ovation (we're big on those in Canada), and seemed to ramble aimlessly right from the start.
This is him discussing the ancient egyptian hieroglyphs. He talked about everything from the correct pronunciation of 'Toronto' to the Queen, to the UK election, to the ancient Egyptians, to the appendix, to Noah's ark to dyslexia, to speaking french to atheism. But over the 3 hours, the show built up characters and recurring themes. My favourite recurring theme was how to end a scene. You just blow up the character with a bazooka. He used that one many times throughout the evening when he improvised himself into a corner.
The audience took part too, creating this great atmosphere of intimacy. It also helped that I was in the second row and couldn't see the thousands of people sat behind me. I will admit that there were short sections where Eddie lost me, either by making references that went over my head, or simply because I zoned out a bit. However, he always pulled me back in. That is Eddie's skill. His standup is very loose and he goes wherever he wants to with it, but even if he loses you, he always gets you back. It was a brilliant show. I enjoyed it immensely and finally got that dose of fantastic live standup that I needed. Both my friends enjoyed it as well, my best friend took longer to come round to Eddie's style than her boyfriend, but the second half had her convinced.
I was pretty tired after the show, and really wanted an autograph for the beautiful programme that I bought, so I got keys to my friend's apartment and my two friends left to go to their friend's party. I hung out by the stage door for about 45 minutes waiting for Eddie to appear, but the people I met were brilliant! Unlike the previous week's "omigodilovehimsomuchhesontv" fans, the people waiting at the stage door for Eddie were friendly, smart, and really really great people. I met 4 in particular that I happily talked comedy with for the time. Eventually, Eddie finally made an appearance and despite being rather tired (he's still on UK time after all), happily signed my programme and even let me have a picture with him:
What a brilliant end to a brilliant evening. In my post-comedy glow on the subway home, I met a guy who had seen Eddie's show the previous evening. We had a lovely comedy chat the whole ride home. I love comedy people. They are so friendly and interesting. Bring on Edinburgh!


  1. One last note: I did manage to tell him how admirable his epic multi-marathon run was and how the Marathon Man show made me cry. His response was, 'Thanks! How did you get to see that?'. He seemed somehow pleased that I torrented the show.

  2. So that's what happened to Craig Ferguson. I thought he'd died or something. Good blog, you certainly like your comedy. :-)

  3. Ahh Izzard is great, so sad I had to run off before the end of the show when I saw him but I had to make the last bus home. Did you get the jazz chicken?

  4. Yup. Jazz chicken was brilliant! :D

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