Arthur Simeon Born and Raised
Published Jul 16, 2014Toronto comic Arthur Simeon drops his first comedy album, and the Ugandan-born comic shows immense potential in his combination of African-themed storytelling and lamenting his luck with the ladies.
The fact that he was born in Kampala, and thus has a thick (but by no means difficult) accent is addressed immediately, with a joke that it's because he was raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. That's punctuated with the aside that "I didn't even know how funny that joke was until I actually went to Thunder Bay."
It's a revealing tag to a joke he's clearly been telling for a while — Simeon is in the midst of an evolutionary process as a comic, and Born and Raised is a snapshot of his growth into the excellent standup he'll become. There are flashes of greatness throughout the album — his observations of how Africans are perceived in North American culture are sharply biting and often hilarious — but there are still moments, like an extended bit on watching The Young and the Restless as a prime time TV show in Kampala — that seem dated and not worthy of where his talents and perspective are now.
But his secondary focus, on dating and his success (or lack of) with women, is the other area where Simeon shines. He's got an engaging yet self-deprecating way of chronicling dating woes, even as he gives off the required confidence to make such tales hilarious. (When it's appropriate to ask questions about his African heritage, for example: not during lovemaking.)
The other minor quibble that will almost certainly be smoothed out as he progresses, is his tendency to use local Toronto references like not dating outside the subway line. "Steeles?" isn't a punch line that'll work effectively in Montreal, much less in Kampala, but Simeon proves throughout the bulk of Born and Raised that funny translates no matter where it's from. (Comedy Records)