Published Feb 08, 2015Yuk Yuk's filled up well before the evening's entertainment began. A comedy audience is apparently an utterly punctual one, and it's a good thing, too — neither Richard Ryder, Darryl Orr or headliner Rebecca Kohler are easy to pass up. Having performed twice on Friday (February 6), with two Saturday (February 7) routines to go, all three were at the top of their game, though unwarranted modesty had Richard Ryder claiming otherwise.
Master of Ceremonies Richard Ryder is an outstanding credit to Toronto's "Gaybourhood," kicking off the night with a hilarious if disquieting account of growing up gay in Canada with a first name traditionally shortened to Dick — work it out for yourself. Ryder exemplified the stark contrast between addressing strangers from behind a microphone at a comedy club, and doing the same in public. While at times a little too jarring to be documented outside of context, his audience rapport suggested a human desire for social convention and precedence to be utterly obliterated with a smile, if only now and then.
Darryl Orr, Toronto comedian and jazz saxophonist, is the height of self-deprecation. A young veteran of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and Just for Laughs, Darryl seems to have looked in the mirror and found a bottomless well of comedic inspiration therein. Whether dwelling on personal physical features he deplores — his face being apparently 50% forehead — or reliving hopeless online dating disasters, Darryl is ever the self-effacing curmudgeon. His outrageous self-pity would almost certainly have spread to every last person in the room had he not been so damn funny.
The evening's headliner, Rebecca Kohler, has earned a reputation as one of Canada's funniest comics in the business. She had a big year in 2013, winning a Canadian Comedy Award for best live taping as well as topping a Best of Toronto Reader's Poll for best female stand-up. Since then, she has been a recurring voice on CBC Radio's The Debaters, as well as a featured comedian at many of Canada's top comedy festivals.
Despite her zany, unhinged stage presence, Rebecca Kohler is as calculated as they come. Whether discussing changing tastes in women's butts, how great Google is at relieving your brain of pesky little tasks like thinking, or why some farts are hot, Kohler has a plan. Inviting, persuasive and wickedly funny, Kohler coaxed her audience closer and closer to the occupationally infamous "line" with every zinger. She was gross, she was daringly inappropriate and she came out squeaky clean every time.
She dances in the danger zone with the nonchalance of someone who knows exactly what they're doing and a confidence known only to the truly dauntless. She'll shock you, she'll reel you back in, and then she'll do it all over again.