JFL42 Dave Attell Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON, September 18

JFL42 Dave Attell Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto ON, September 18
"I love Toronto you guys; whenever you guys are done building it, it's gonna be awesome," Dave Attell said in the midst of a self-aware, ingratiating opening round of jokes about Canada and the constant construction in its largest metropolis.

From the outset of this early, seven p.m. show, Attell was on fire — a cranky but whirling dervish of unrelenting jokes about dicks, vaginas, drugs and, like many comics, the vaguely complicated JFL42 "credits" pass, which he described as "a scam or whatever."

He cycled through old and new material ("I hate my act," he muttered at least twice) and did some occasional crowd work that culminated in bringing a beautiful mother and daughter on stage well after Attell spotted the former searching for the latter in the middle of his show.

"You ever do a bunch of mushrooms and you think you're having a pillow fight but it turns out to be a live baby?" he asked at one point, and the crowd, jolted, let out its first roar. Attell, surely aware he was killing, frequently and falsely apologized for his dirty jokes because we were a refined Canadian audience with mothers and daughters in the room. But it was bullshit. He knew he had us and sent forth an unrelenting stream of hard material and misdirection.

"Did you guys see that video of the cat saving that kid from a dog?" Attell wondered aloud. "Man, I must've watched that video 20 times because I'm a pedophile." Effortless, somewhat awe-inspiring evil from a guy in that rare company of comics who have held the temporary crown of "best stand-up alive." On this night, it was obvious why.