Jackie Kashian Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, February 25
Published Feb 26, 2016Jackie Kashian's sincere, nerdy sensibility was as comical as it was captivatingly candid. With the accompaniment of three other lovely acts, Kashian got big laughs out of the intimate Cabaret Space at Comedy Bar with her stellar stories.
Host Dawn Whitwell opened the show with unique material that created comedy based on the tiniest minutia of life. With her eye for funny details that go unnoticed by most, she illustrated why organic peanut butter is overrated, amusingly explained why invisibility is the best super power, and craftily found innocent humour in the phrase "the bee's knees."
Following Whitwell, Nour Hadidi did some racially slanted observational material that was as funny as it was polished. Her bit about her phone autocorrecting her name to "Noir Hasidic" was clean, sharp, and performed with an engagingly calculated delivery, as was her material about her Jordanian passport and her coworkers asking if her Toms shoes were "muslim shoes."
Before Kashian finally took the stage, comedy duo N2N did some improvisation based on lines randomly selected from comic books that they passed out to the crowd. Though this method of deriving improvisational prompts was impressively original, it didn't add much to the show. Since the lines were all too complicated to remember after the first read, they ended up contributing little more than the vibe of the scenes. Moreover, since the comic books were all from the same genre, the tone of all of the lines was homogeneously grim, so the moods of the scenes weren't very diverse.
Having said that, the improv group consisting of Nigel Downer and Nug Nahrgang was undeniably proficient in their craft. Their physical acting choices took risks that consistently paid off, and their silly riffs comically strayed quickly from the dark and often very ambiguous prompts they were given. It was joy to watch their innocuously absurd comedy unfold through characters that ranged from professional fighters to mad scientists.
Kashian's hour was filled with pure, truthful storytelling, most of which involved her family, childhood, and relationships. Her portrayal of her father hitting on women who were decades younger than him in a grocery store, her anecdote about clobbering a kid in elementary school because they ripped her sweater, and her bit about how online dating is the best option for anti-social people like her were all strikingly frank and funny. Similarly, her joke about how her behaviour in her relationships has been heavily influenced by the complaints of male stand-up comedians was vulnerable yet hilarious, as was her beautifully crafted story about role-playing with her husband in order to heal from a negative sexual experience.