Jamie Lee Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, July 19
Published Jul 20, 2015"Sorry, I've been up since 3 a.m.," Jamie Lee said, midway through her set, "but that's my problem, not yours."
Performing as part of the JFL42 summer preview shows at Comedy Bar, Lee's jokes highlighted the tension between how she identifies as being both a #basicbitch and a feminist. For her, this shows up most clearly in her labradoodle (to her, it's not only "the basic bitch mascot," but also a statement dog because it looks like "a '70s bush with eyes"), but it also comes out in talking about her engagement, Say Yes to the Dress, and baby voices in porn.
Lee was really stellar when she explored this tension. It's not necessarily new ground (with bits about how being engaged is ruined because you have to say "fiancé," or how she's attracted to her meathead boyfriend in a really primal way), but you could really hear how Lee is contending with having these really beautiful things in her life, and realizing that these things are pretty generic. Like, it's hard to appreciate being in love sometimes, because now you're just like all those other couples who are in love — and a lot of those couples are dead boring.
It was her longer, more focused jokes, like talking about her dog, that got the most laughs from the slightly docile Sunday evening crowd (it was really, really hot outside). Even more than sleepiness or heatstroke or the Canada Customs agent who asked if she was "related to Jamie Lee Curtis" (that's not how names work, buddy), Lee's biggest problem might be adapting her material for Canadians. She stumbled over local trivia, like whether or not we spoke French in Toronto, and there's also a chance that Lee's material relies sometimes on trying to shock the audience. Drop-in jokes and non-sequiturs about doing meth or having AIDS were maybe too out-of-nowhere for the sensible Canadian audience (although suicide references and declarations that people needed to "kill themselves" played pretty well).
That being said, Lee does a dynamite impression of Meryl Streep accepting a compliment, which goes on for an absurd length of time. It's a bit of an oddball moment for having such a straight-ahead curmudgeonly style otherwise, but it was moments like this that betrayed how Jamie Lee is more than just the "#basicbitch" she claims to be.
Local opener Amanda Brooke Perrin was great (as always). One of the best things about Just for Laughs is that it brings in top talents from across North America, but you also get to see some of the first class comedians that we have here in Toronto. Lee and Perrin were a great pairing, with Perrin covering a lot of the same material as the headliner (engagements, Say Yes to the Dress) but with a slightly goofier and less misanthropic lens, which maybe fit the sunny, summery attitude that the crowd had. Honestly, everyone just seemed happy to be somewhere with air conditioning.