Todd is looking away. What is he thinking?
It was my last night at JFL NorthWest, so it was perfect timing for my first visit to Vancouver's dedicated comedy club, Yuk Yuk's. All the comedy conventions are just as advertised - those little bar tables, the spotlight, the droll headliner, the dorky host - and so fun.
Todd Barry is a New York comedian well-known for film, cartoons, late night TV and more. He has been on Flight of The Conchords, which is enough for me. If I have described anything else in this festival as deadpan, I take it back. Barry owns deadpan. He does the traditional observational humour and social commentary thing but his take is a bit weirder and a bit sharper. What happened when he found a hundred dollar charge on a hotel bill and was accused to stealing the bedspread? See him and find out. It's a good one.
He seems to know that most of what he is saying is obvious, examining minutiae, but he knows he does it well and he knows he adds something new. There is no yelling, not running around, no laughing at his own jokes, no getting mad. He's got a nice voice and he's a low talker - you have to pay attention. The bottom line: he made me laugh. A lot. Like most of the time.
One of the more interesting things Barry has done recently is the Crowd Work Tour, in which he used no prepared material for stand-up shows, just worked off interaction with the audience. It sounds scary for a comedian and it sounds scary for the audience as well, except that Barry doesn't humiliate or berate. He finds a way to be funny without making a really big deal of it.
Comedy is a such a different art form from almost all others. I've always thought it is the hardest to be really good at and the easiest to be bad at. Some comedy has a narrative structure similar to writing and storytelling and I can't help looking for that in a show to see what makes this medium work.
JFL NorthWest was a great opportunity to sample some of the funniest people in the biz and as well as a number of Vancouver's own. The Sunday Service is on every week, as is Jokes Please. Lots of the shows at Hot Art Wet City are on every month.
Read Toddy Barry's Receipt Museum.