JFL42 Review: Dave Merheje Draws on Canadian Roots for an Energetic Set

Royal Theatre, Toronto ON, September 27

BY Audrey CarletonPublished Sep 28, 2019

Now a New York City hotshot with a supporting role on Hulu's critically acclaimed Ramy, Canadian comic Dave Merheje hasn't forgotten his roots.
In fact, observations about the way Canadians bury their anger and stories about his upbringing in Windsor, ON made up a large portion of his set at the Royal Theatre on Friday night.
Despite his recent success, which also includes a 2019 Juno Award for Comedy Album of the Year, Merheje hasn't lost his energy or his edge. He delivered 45 minutes of non-stop high-octane revelations about how he relates to the world and the way it's informed by his two Lebanese immigrant parents.
His father, for example, never spoke in soft tones — he always yelled, and only ever said "I love you" on a handful of occasions throughout Merheje's childhood. Rather, he showed love in unconventional ways: by paying for Merheje's headgear and slapping his childhood bully. It's informed the way Merheje is today — his neuroticism, annoyances, insecurities — and how he views the people around him. The comedian moves back and forth between stories from his younger years and observations he has today, strategically interlacing the two for a compelling set.
In one of his best bits of the night, Merheje told the story of the time an unconvincing Santa Claus stopped by his house as a child, to his father's dismay. His dad wasn't having it ("Santa, big hotshot, huh?"), resentful that he wasn't getting credit for buying his kids Christmas gifts. Merheje does animated impressions that make this and every story like it extremely dynamic, portraying himself as a child, his angry dad and his siblings with presumably impressive accuracy.
Merheje is a comedian that Canada should be proud of — he gives each story the fierce delivery it deserves, humbly breaks character to laugh at his own jokes and is committed to giving his all on stage.

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