Packed with music, comedy, and stories from the road, this show fantastically explored the idea that the lifestyles of musicians and comedians are two sides of the same coin. Like a magazine-style radio program combined with a variety show, Hello! Thunder Bay! was wonderfully candid and filled with too many legendary stories to count.
David Matheson began the show by explaining that the show's name stemmed from the fact that Thunder Bay is one of the strangest, most soul-crushing places to tour through, and consequently it epitomizes what it's like to do bizarre gigs across Canada. He then introduced Gavin Crawford, who impersonated Lady Gaga impersonating David Bowie with an amusingly spot-on Bowie costume and platform heels. In the impersonation, Crawford brilliantly ridiculed Gaga as a "pop star that transitioned into a tribute artist," then satirized her attention-seeking persona by adding a black wig and cape to his costume and proceeding to impersonate "Lady David Alan Rickman Gaga Bowie." Stunningly unique and elaborate, the sketch was topical yet impressively rich in its layering of personalities.
Several other comedians also ventured into musical territory during their sets. Like Crawford, Jessica Holmes also chose to impersonate musicians during her set. Her fast-paced series of imitations that included voices ranging from Nicki Minaj to Shakira had several moments where it was unclear who she was impersonating, but her Liza Minelli impression was uncanny and very funny. Likewise, Seán Cullen skilfully mocked musicians like Pearl Jam that sing "ay" as "ehr," and sang an absurd song about the meaning of the gibberish word "kacheevo" that was one of the most hysterical bits of the festival so far.
The musicians were equally as entertaining as the comedians, even though most of them never touched an instrument or sang a single note during their sets. Most memorably, rapper Odario Williams opted out of the interview set-up with Dave Bidini that all of the other musicians used, and performed alone with the confidence and talent of a semi-pro comedian. The Grand Analog frontman was impressively funny as he recounted a hellish gig he had in a Nanaimo strip club/bar filled that involved the manager shoving money down his pants while he performed, a biker heckling him, and a crackhead stealing his clothes.
In addition, Tom Wilson told a brilliant anecdote about nearly killing Sarah McLachlan by sprinting through a doorframe while she was on his shoulders, David Quinton Steinberg revealed what it was like to open for the Police, and Dave Bidini talked about having a fan who bizarrely shouted "DIE!" after every song he played.
Furthermore, Alex Lifeson gave the audience an insight into his amazing, sick sense of humour by recounting how he would dress up as a character called the Bag who insulted everyone it met, sounded like Ray Romano, and wore one pair of sweat pants over both its arms and legs.