Daniel Woodrow The Making-Box Theatre, Guelph ON, September 4

Daniel Woodrow The Making-Box Theatre, Guelph ON, September 4
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Toronto comedian Daniel Woodrow delivered a solid set to a packed house last Thursday at The Making-Box, Guelph's only venue devoted to comedy, recently voted Guelph's best live theatre by The Guelph Mercury's Reader's Choice Awards. It's a humble theatre, resembling a sort of Franken-room; part bar, part old timey high school cafeteria.
 
Host and founder of The Making-Box Jay Reid began the evening with a lip synch battle — the increasingly viral phenomenon in which contestants mime/lip synch to famous pop songs. But rather than lip synching to songs, Reid and two other comedians lip synched to famous stand-up routines by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan. Reid was an excellent host, quick-witted and bombastic in an almost cartoony sense, possessing the volume and pitch of someone straight out of a Matt Groening cartoon.
 
Daniel Woodrow was preceded by five brief sets from budding local comedians — a mainstay of The Making-Box's Headliners series — many of them regulars of The Making-Box's open mic nights.  Highlights were Gabriel Broderick's stories of reckless youth and reluctant "street philosopher" Michael Moses.
 
His second appearance on The Making-Box stage — his first kicking off the 2014 Guelph Comedy Festival — saw Daniel Woodrow firmly at ease. Unreservedly observational, most of Woodrow's comedy came from a place of entrenched reflection. He was funny, sharp and unusually clean, especially when considering the lack of older, perhaps more sensitive audience members. He had a decent rapport with the audience — perhaps rivalled only by the evening's first performer, Gabriel Broderick — though he did seem to have to ride on his likability to get through a brief lacklustre stretch or two.
 
Woodrow showed a unique knack for crowd work. Interestingly, he seemed prone to apologizing to audience members he feared he was embarrassing too much, while continuing to prod at those he deemed appropriate. He seemed very reluctant to come across as mean-spirited or even flippant for any length of time at all. The opposite is a common trend in stand-up because it's often easier to be a funny angry dude than a perfectly amicable stand-up comic. Not so with Daniel Woodrow, a terrific comic and a stand up dude.