Award-winning sketch comedy duo Ladystache is the brainchild of stand-up comedian Steph Tolev and actor/writer Allison Hogg. The duo made a one-night-only appearance at JFL42 on Tuesday.
Watching Ladystache was a little like watching a train go off the rails in fast-forward to the tune of "Yakety Sax." The sketches were fast, the characters outrageous and the audience in hysterics. The set lacked pacing, indoor voices, good taste and all the other boring things that invariably get in the way of a good time.
Throughout the show, Tolev and Hogg gave the audience the impression — sometimes explicitly — that they were flying by the seat of their pants. Their obvious comfort on stage and with one another lent their set an inevitable sense of improvisation. The few moments where the audience could tell they had gone off book gave the whole show a brilliant sense of immediacy. It was difficult to tell what was scripted and what wasn't, which is ideal in stand-up comedy, but a rare and terrifically energizing occurrence in sketch comedy. Nothing looked memorized, premeditated or careful. Perhaps those moments were all an act — in which case they're even better than they let on — but nevertheless, the effect was tremendous.
Hogg, who attended Humber for comedy writing and performance, is a brilliant character actor. She has a penchant for taking small everyday character traits and blowing them up into their own walking, talking, completely bonkers characters. Her impression of Björk singing summer camp tunes was absolutely to die for. Tolev's characters on the other hand all seemed to be an extension of her very specific sense of humour and innate funniness, which was a well she never seemed to exhaust. It didn't matter how good her characters were — and there were plenty of great ones. All she had to do was clear her throat — literally — and the crowd was in stitches.
Of all the incredible sketch acts in Toronto, Ladystache have the most funny per member. They're bizarre, unhinged and uproariously funny. Toronto is very lucky to have them.