Ari Shaffir Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON, September 29
Published Sep 30, 2015Prying and at times cantankerous contrarian Ari Shaffir, known for his popular podcast Skeptic Tank and the TV mini-series This Is Not Happening, followed the "what the hell is going on" school of comedy to the letter.
The early progression of his set, leaping from Tinder pregnancies to the efficacy of not having children — at best a nuisance, at worst a burden on an over-populated world — finally winding up at abortion being the surest track to heaven, is very telling of the Shaffir's nature as a comic. He's delightfully cynical and makes no apologies for it.
While Shaffir's performance was solid, fans of Skeptic Tank might have expected something a little more cerebral or socially/politically charged from a comedian known for releasing deep political discussions on his podcast. Shaffir seemed to steer away from anything explicitly political. Aside from a brief jab at the anti-abortion establishment and some musings on whether or not he was homophobic, Shaffir leant mostly on personal experience and hijinks. Considering Shaffir rails on political correctness so vehemently and so often, there was some disappointment in his lack of daring. He wasn't timid, but some had hoped he'd get a little closer to the edge than he did.
That said, fans of This Is Not Happening got a comedian they were far more familiar with. For them, Shaffir was exactly the brilliant laid-back pothead they had paid to see. He was clever, open and relatable. Even when describing utterly fantastical things like the vital difference between shitting in your pants and shitting into your pants from above in a Chinese bathroom, or recounting his five-year tenure as a pretend lawyer, he was somehow relatable.
Shaffir is a comedian's comedian and it wasn't hard to see why. He was funny as always, though his Canadian jokes were a little generic — "insert nearest rival city name here" sort of wisecracks. He played reasonably well to both the comedic and the more political sides of his audience. He dabbled in what was nearly slapstick to great effect, and despite a few minor microphone issues, he never skipped a beat. He's an intelligent, talented comic on his way up in the world, and he was a pleasure to watch.