Published Jul 30, 2017Busy standup comedian Ari Shaffir held a live taping of his podcast Skeptic Tank at the Hyatt Hotel in Montreal on Saturday. Joining him were comics Andrew Santino, Ron Funches and Dan Soder. The theme of the afternoon exchange was "regret" — a subject of substantially more levity than many of his darker choices. Live episodes of Skeptic Tank are an uncommon occurrence, and after the "weirdness" of his last Canadian live taping in Toronto due to the subject choice of suicide, a lighter subject was not surprising.
The group seemed a tight-knit bunch. Stories of regret seemed to primarily bounce back and forth between Santinos and Soder, with Shaffir more than capably playing moderator. Funches seemed to be a man of very few regrets and appeared at peace with playing a more spectator role, chiming in with funny quips here and there.
Shaffir is a terrific host, as he should be after nearly 300 podcast episodes. He kept conversation moving at a comfortable pace, delving into solid conversations and segueing effortlessly from one recounted experience to the next. Either he is a terrific host or he's good at picking people to bounce ideas off, to the point where hosting the conversation is a nonissue. Probably both. A late comer may have found it difficult to tell who was hosting the event. It couldn't have gone smoother.
Regret certainly seemed a deep well of material for Soder in particular — perhaps not an uncommon trait for comedians. His genuine reflections on alcoholism, family and school struggles were weighty and often profound without interrupting the constant jibes and witty remarks of the other comics.
The only remotely negative thing one could say about the Skeptic Tank taping is that it never really lived up to its name. There were almost no grounds for occasions of scepticism. As long as one wasn't attending the event in dire need of consensus smashing or nay saying, it was thoroughly immersive, well-paced and funny.