Two outspoken comedians come to town
Chris Rock and Jim Jefferies, both inflammatory standups, hit local stages this weekend
This is the weekend that Toronto standup comedy fans have been awaiting for months, though one they’re maybe a bit reluctant for pay for.
Brooklyn-raised Chris Rock plays the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, and his equally outspoken Australian peer Jim Jefferies does four shows at the Sony Centre nearby on Friday and Saturday.
For as little as, er, $194 after fees, you can see both — no show is quite a sellout on Ticketmaster as of Thursday morning.
The laid-back Jefferies will entertain about 12,000 at his shows, while the slightly livelier Rock pulls 18,000 or so at his — certainly the biggest standup draws to go head to head in Toronto in recent memory. (There aren’t many comedians who can fill the hockey rink, after all.) So here’s how these talents, both inflammatory in their own way, stack up next to each other.
Actual name: Geoff James Nugent Age: 40 Personal status: Apparently single, having referred to his 3-year-old son’s mother on a recent podcast as his ex. Star-making standup moment: Probably 2009’s HBO special I Swear to God, a characteristically blunt, even insulting denunciation of those who disagree with him (mostly religious believers). One notable target was the biblical Noah, who not only built the ark but “worked out some type of refrigeration system to keep the polar bears cold and the lions hot, and he made the door on the ark very small so the dinosaurs couldn’t get in ’cause he was a thinker, and he had storage eaters for all of their delicate diets ’cause we all know what picky eaters pandas are . . . (and) Noah lived to be 950 years old but they never mention that in sermons because we might think it’s bulls--t.” TV highlight: His 2013-’14 FX series Legit has its fans, but there are likely more admirers of his current project The Jim Jefferies Show, every week feeding North America’s apparently inexhaustible appetite for comedians sitting behind desks making fun of Donald Trump. Standup themes: Atheism, alcohol, drugs, gun control, sexual depravity, sexual hostility, sexual mediocrity Out-of-his-lane achievement: Getting Brad Pitt to do the weather on his TV show. What’s next: More of the TV show, more of the podcast.
Actual name: Christopher Julius Rock III Age: 52 Personal status: Divorced last year, with two daughters. Star-making standup moment: Bring the Pain, his 1996 HBO special, remembered for some boldly unorthodox racial material and drugs: “You know what the good side of crack is? If you’re up at the right hour, you can get a VCR for $1.50. You can furnish your whole house for $10.95. At Christmas time, ever get someone a crack gift? They think you did something — ‘Ooh, you shouldn’t have.’ I didn’t! Bought it from a crackhead.” TV highlight: The Chris Rock Show, 1997-2000, an Emmy-winning HBO series proto- Chappelle’s Show best remembered for stunts like going to a then-infamous white-majority neighbourhood, Howard Beach, and seeking signatures to rename a street after Tupac Shakur. Well, that or Everybody Hates Chris, the four-season autobiographical sitcom he created and narrated. Standup themes: Race relations, drugs, women, gender relations, the tedium of marriage, infidelity, more infidelity. Out-of-his-lane achievement: Twice hosting the Oscars. What’s next: Releasing two standup specials on Netflix for the jaw-dropping sum of $40 million (U.S.).
Jim Jefferies is doing four shows at the Sony Centre on Friday and Saturday, while Chris Rock is taking the Air Canada Centre stage on Saturday night.