Darrin Rose / Fraser Young Winter Garden Theatre, Toronto ON, February 7
Published Feb 08, 2015If there's one word to describe Darrin Rose's show on Saturday (February 7) night, it's the word "vanilla." Dressed in a standard suit, genial in nature and offering clean observational jokes, Rose never pushed boundaries nor presented anything especially unique. He simply delivered innocuous humour for the common denominator, much like his opener Fraser Young, and left the audience satisfied just enough to justify the ticket prices.
Before analyzing the show in depth, it's worthy to note that the monotony of the show was not due to the fact that the material was clean and broadly appealing — after all, comics such as John Mulaney and Jim Gaffigan have proven that it is possible to be both and still be hysterical. The issue with the comedians on this night was that their personality seldom came through in their comedy, and thus a good deal of their material was unmemorable.
Although Rose began the show with some delightful riffs about the theatre, his performance quickly settled into mediocrity. His bit about his fear of dogs was understandable but barely elicited a few chuckles, and his jokes about the miscellaneous trivia he knows from the "A" volume of the encyclopaedia was pretty funny, but forgettable. Similarly, his material about his older brother was enjoyable, but wasn't good enough to be his closer.
Likewise, opener Fraser Young was bland. Over the course of his set, he performed an unexciting bit about how he lives in a partially gated community, recounted a dull narrative about staying in a hospital waiting room for hours only to find out he had strained a muscle, and told an unexceptional anecdote about the time he left a barbecue on for a few days. Having said that, Young's optimism in the face of the quiet crowd was admirable.
Fortunately, the show wasn't completely unremarkable. Rose's fantastic crowd work provided many of the night's high points. His improvised bit about an audience member's love life based on her loud and untimely scream was playful and sharp, and the way he responded to someone yelling that he was attractive was comical. Moreover, when someone yelled, "I love your shirt" after Rose said "I love you" as part of his material about the awkwardness of reciprocating declarations of affection, Rose dealt with it quickly and hilariously.
In addition, Darrin Rose's anecdotes about his feisty mother who believed in "street justice" were excellent, and his throwaway line about how he looked like Jason Sudeikis was great. Lastly, although it could have been more vivid, Rose's joke about considering if he would cut off his fingers for insurance money was very funny. Nonetheless, these highlights didn't prevent this show from being anything more than ordinary.