Comedy for a Cause

After dinner, Mack and I went to a YRAP fundraiser, Comedy for a Cause, at The Comic Strip on Bourbon Street in West Edmonton Mall.

This experience was definitely better than my last, where the $25 ticket price bought only moderate chuckles. The evening was MC’d by Paul Brown of The Bear “fame.” Late to the stage, he gave the impression that he had just arrived, barely oriented to the event at hand, and immediately launched into a haphazard tirade about the trouble with kids and crystal meth. As this was a fundraiser for the Youth Emergency Shelter, where the law and drug addiction could very well factor into a teen’s stay, it was, needless to say, the wrong kind of comedy for this group. One woman at the YES table in particular glared at Brown all night and looked quite unhappy with his vein of jokes. After some reflection, I’m fairly certain he had deliberately intended on being offensive.

The two comics were at opposite ends of the spectrum, and I found it interesting how both of them integrated family anecdotes into their routines, but only one of them managed to make it work. And so I ask – what makes a comedian funny? I can’t answer that, but I can tell you that Willie Santos crashed and burned. I’m not sure if it was just a nervous reflex either, but he actually started to alienate the audience when he questioned why we weren’t laughing.

John Wesley (of Last Comic Standing “fame”), on the other hand, was great. He was affable, energetic, and self-sacrificing without putting the audience on the defensive. He had some classic material – his relationship with his father, the differences between Texas/the United States and Canada, and ex-girlfriends. He even poked fun at Calgary with a line about the hick Pied Piper leading all rednecks south.

As for the venue itself, it is hard to blame the waitresses when they are clearly doing their job, but it was unnecessarily distracting for them to be asking for drink orders at seemingly 10 minute intervals, walking in front of patrons trying to pay attention to the show, at times even causing the audience to miss out on the punch line all together. Though in Santos’ case, perhaps pouring on the alcohol was a good thing.

All in all, it was a fun evening, and even better that the money raised went to a worthy cause!

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