Published Sep 25, 2015Two Canadian stand-up veterans / sitcom character actors teamed up for a co-showcase at Comedy Bar, and while their styles were very different, the results were remarkable.
Darcy Michael (Spun Out, Comedy Network's Match Game) was full of energy, seemingly from just having spent a bunch of time touring in the U.S., where audiences seemed confused by the fact that the beer-drinking hoser before them turned out to be a gay beer-drinking hoser. From the jump, he started grading audience reaction against our American counterparts and delighting in the fact that jokes about body dysmorphia (Michael lost over 120 pounds in recent years) went over well here. Enthusiastically, he would mark his notes with a check when we responded, muttering to himself about how well he was doing, scolding us when a terrific tennis joke was received tepidly. ("One arm's the Hulk, the other arm's a vegan.")
He needn't have worried — Michael was truly on this night, the kind of set that comics thrive on, where the energy, material and vibe match perfectly, as audience enthusiasm builds momentum and the jokes feel like pushing a rock down a hill. From musing on what use a gay man might find for a fleshlight to stories about his straight-laced husband accidentally eating a pot brownie, Michael was in a comic sweet spot.
In less professional hands, the switch from Darcy Michael's relatively high energy to the drawn-out pauses of Pat Thornton would be jarring, but Thornton (The Sketchersons, sitcom Satisfaction) is a consummate pro of Toronto stages. He immediately took control of the crowd and dragged the pace down to a leisurely country drive through surrealism. Thornton has an innate ability to sit on a thought, a line or even a tease of an idea and let it ripple through the audience. He gets more laughs on the comic potential of an idea than most do with a half-dozen frantic punch lines.