Standup spans big stars and hidden gems
Something is missing in this 2
year’s picks. This is the first time you won’t see a Just For Laughs multicomic, gala-style Comedy Tour in the Fall Arts Preview. A tradition has ended, it seems. But comedy is still in full swing, as evidenced by the upcoming shows itemized for your reading pleasure below.
JIM JEFFERIES (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 14 and 15) Jimmer just keeps getting bigger and better. It wasn’t that long ago that he was playing midnight shows at the Rickshaw Theatre. Now he’s packing them in over two nights at the QE. The Draw: This raw Aussie doesn’t seem suited to sitting behind a desk, but it somehow works on Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show. He’s still himself, but the real deal is seeing him in the flesh on-stage. Target Audience: The whole village of Whistler might be shut down for the two nights he’s here. But Jefferies doesn’t just appeal to his own people. He’s got an army of fans who love his ballsy humour.
MOSHE KASHER (At Yuk Yuk’s on September 28 and 29) The honeymoon is over! You saw Kasher and newish wife Natasha Leggero’s threepart Netflix special, The Honeymoon Stand Up Special, but he’s ditched the old ball-and-chain and is heading to the Vancouver club solo. The Draw: Kasher is quick, sardonic, and hilarious, with or without his equally hilarious better half. Target Audience: You can blow your budget on an A-lister at a theatre show, or you can spend a fraction of that to see an even better comic at a club.
JERRY SEINFELD (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 4 and 5) Anyone who watches Seinfeld’s incredible series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee knows his absolute love of and allegiance to standup comedy. Then again, anyone who has been paying attention to his career since the ’80s already knew that. The guy lives for, and oozes, funny. The Draw: He won’t be driving on-stage in a vintage car, or sipping a cuppa joe with a pal. But it will be vintage Jerry, telling jokes with wryly observed detail, old and new. Target Audience: Forget his sitcom, one of the best of all time. Forget his Netflix series too. All you need to know about Jerry Seinfeld you’ll see live on-stage. If you care at all about standup, and you haven’t seen him already, this is the show to catch.
EDDIE IFFT (At the Comedy MIX from October 4 to 6) A couple weeks after his former roommate and podcast partner Jim Jefferies plays the Queen E, standup comic Ifft makes his debut at the Comedy MIX. The Draw: Just like Jefferies, Ifft is a bit of a bad boy. Unlike Jefferies, Ifft still does the “offensively funny” podcast Talkin’ Shit, the only podcast, his website tells us, to be banned from itunes for offensive content. And unlike Jefferies, Ifft still flies under the radar. Target Audience: Real comedy nerds know the score. He’s like the cool alternative band no one’s heard of.
ROY WOOD JR. (At Yuk Yuk’s on October 12 and 13) Wood came to national prominence in the seventh season of NBC’S Last Comic Standing, finishing third. Since then, he’s gone back to his roots: news reporting. Only now he does it for laughs on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. The Draw: With a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism, Wood may be the most legit of all Comedy Central correspondents. But he’s also a helluva stand-up comic. Target Audience: Put another notch in your comedy belt and check off someone who’s never played Vancouver before.
GAD ELMALEH (At the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on November 8) It’s hard enough making strangers laugh in your native tongue— try doing it in your fourth language. Elmaleh has got it down pat. The Moroccan-born French comic performed in French, Arabic, and Hebrew before giving English a go. The Draw: Elmaleh didn’t become France’s top comedian through mugging and mime; he’s a real wordsmith. Plus, that suave Parisian charm helps. Target Audience: If you took French immersion and are yearning for some listening practice… This might not be the show for you. Elmaleh performs en anglais seulement.
SEBASTIAN MANISCALCO (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 2) One of the hottest comedians in the game right now, Maniscalco was Just For Laughs’ standup comedian of the year in 2016. He’s since released a book, sold out Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, and done five shows at Radio City Music Hall. The Draw: Sebastian doesn’t just tell jokes; his whole body exudes jokes. His larger-than-life Italian style is perfect for the big stages he plays. Target Audience: He’s a mainstream act, for sure, so bring your whole family. Sometimes that’s code for “lame”, but not in this case. TENACIOUS D (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 13) There was a time not too long ago when Jack Black was seemingly in every other movie. His omnipresence has faded, which allows him to get back to rawkin’. The Draw: Black and his bestie Kyle Gass, with their respective acoustic axes, ham their way through original heavymetal-ish tunes with lyrics even more ridiculous than actual heavy metal. It’s a send-up and a homage all at once. These guys have both musical and comedic chops. Target Audience: Where else can you go to a comedy show and blow out your eardrums at the same time?
LETTERKENNY LIVE: THE ENCORE
(At the Orpheum on December 18) Wasn’t the gang from Crave TV’S Letterkenny just here? Yeah, well, this is the encore. Jared Keeso, Nathan Dales, Mark Forward, and K. Trevor Wilson did a mammoth cross-country tour from February through April. They apparently couldn’t get enough—or we couldn’t get enough of them. The Draw: They promise sketches and videos you didn’t see on the earlier tour. And the two standups in the group—forward and Wilson—will also do sets, presumably new too. Target Audience: Bridges will be crossed and tunnels driven through to get to this show, guaranteed.
> GUY MACPHERSON
the Richmond Art Gallery from September 14 to November 10) Chinese-canadian artist
Xiaojing Yan draws creative inspiration for her mixed-media installations from Taoist philosophy and its associated myths and folklore. As well, she incorporates images and symbols from historic Chinese art, imaginatively reinventing them. An example is Mountain of Pines, an installation of hanging panels of silk organza “pierced with thousands of pine needles” to simulate Chinese ink paintings of mist-covered mountains and to invoke spiritual beliefs around such landscape forms. “Lingzhi Girls” is a series of mushroom-sprouting, life-size busts that conflate self-portraiture with the Eight Immortals of Taoist mythology. The Draw: The first western Canadian show for this Toronto-based artist expresses a poignant state of “in-betweenness”, guest essayist Rick Leong writes, suspended “between languages, cultures and places”.
CONNECTING THREADS (At the Surrey Art Gallery from September 22 to December 16) This show spotlights textile and fibre art from the gallery’s permanent collection and represents some two dozen Canadian artists, including Pat Cairns, Roxanne Charles, Barbara Cole, Barry Goodman, Ruth Scheuing, Nep Sidhu, and Barbara Todd. Means and methods jump from small-scale needlepoint portraits to large-scale quilted images of cruise missiles, and from knitted figurative sculpture to a (literally) deconstructed man’s suit. Oh, and it’s impossible to mention this group show without also recommending the SAG’S concurrent solo exhibitions by Maggie Orth, who is acclaimed as “a leader in the field of wearable technology and interactive textiles”, and Kathy Slade, who references popular culture, literature, and art history in her embroidered imagery and fabric sculpture. The Draw: Most compelling here is the capacity of contemporary textile art to take on challenging themes, issues, and conceptual strategies.
DANA CLAXTON: FRINGING THE CUBE
(At the Vancouver Art Gallery from October 27 to February 3) One of our leading media artists, Claxton finds powerful expression in film, photography, text, performance, video, and video installation. One of her signature strategies is to use formal beauty to challenge social assumptions and dismantle cultural stereotypes, something that will be evident in this big solo exhibition. As an artist of Hunkpapa Lakota heritage, based in Vancouver, Claxton asks us to reconsider ideas and images surrounding gender, cultural identity, and the body. She has also used her art to examine ideas of spirituality, resilience, reclamation, and the ways in which history and culture are embedded in the landscape. The Draw: The VAG is billing this exhibition as the first to comprehensively survey Claxton’s “formidable career”. Expect to be blown away.
BATIA SUTER (At the Polygon Gallery from November 2 to January 13) Born in Switzerland and based in Amsterdam, Batia Suter is best known for her monumental, site-specific prints of digitally manipulated images. She works, too, with photo animation, photo installation, and collage, often employing found or appropriated images to unsettle our understanding of how we read them, whether habitually or within the context of new surroundings. For her Polygon show, Suter will also create a “siteresponsive” wallpaper mural that, curator Helga Pakasaar says, uses tree images to reference the temperate rainforest and its “dependent industries and economies”. The Draw: Critically acclaimed and widely exhibited in Europe, the United States, and Asia, Batia Suter is making her solo Canadian debut at the Polygon.
> ROBIN LAURENCE
Baby Girlz Gotta Mustang