Just For Laughs: Gregg Proops & Paul F. Tompkins

0 Posted by - July 26, 2014 - Features, Performance, Reviews

The Just For Laughs Festival is taking place in Montreal, and Art Threat’s Kristi Kouchakji is there to review the politically-tinged humour for us.

Greg Proops: “These are the bad old days.”

The word on the street is that this Whose Line Is It Anyway? veteran has a remarkably intelligent and perceptive take on Quebec politics, and that he’d done nearly a half hour on that during his first show at Wiggle Room this year. Surprisingly, none of that came up the second night of his run and some who had been there both nights say that Proops did an entirely different set the second night.

This would explain why Proops seemed like he was having as much fun as the audience – after witnessing several other performers recycle material across different sets and showcases, losing enthusiasm each time, seeing a performer genuinely engage with their material and be in the moment is hugely refreshing.

The material in question that night included a solid half hour or so on what Proops sees as two Americas: One that believes in science, and one that engages in shortsighted legislative follies, including restricting abortion rights and other acts of misogyny.

Greg Proops plays at Wiggle Room until July 26th, and will record a special edition of his podcast also on the 26th. Tickets available here.

Paul F. Tompkins

Paul F. Tompkins and Friends, Real and Imagined

It’s hard to review showcase-type shows, because they change every night, and each performer only gets a few minutes, so it feels like a bit of an unfair judgment to make. That said, every now and then a performer comes along whose few minutes are so tight and so good that it calls attention to the headliner’s weaknesses.

Such was the case with Demi Lardner’s appearance in Paul F. Tompkins’ show. In less than ten minutes, Lardner managed to just about steal the show with her energy and her wickedly funny anecdotes about her dad and his bungling of the sex talk, among other things.

By contrast, Tompkins started fairly solidly and quickly slid into mediocrity with each new routine he performed. His impersonation of Cake Boss Buddy Valastro in particular is essentially a collection of stereotypes, and rather than trying to make any kind of point with it Tompkins instead performs a strange little audience-participation ESP gag.

Those in the audience who were clearly already Tompkins fans loved it, but ultimately it was disappointingly vapid — especially compared to Lardner’s segment — and borderline offensive.

Paul F. Tompkins and Friends, Real and Imagined is at MainLine until July 26th. Tickets available here.

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