John Hastings Yuk Yuk's, Toronto ON, January 10

John Hastings Yuk Yuk's, Toronto ON, January 10
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
John Hastings' satisfying performance was filled with unique takes on familiar subjects, and sprinkled with random yet relatable lines about Canada. Unfortunately, most of his openers didn't uphold his standard of entertainment, but it was a fun show nonetheless.
Host Julia Hladkowicz started off the night well by finding humour in her love of wine, and doing crowd work with a father and his two sons in the front row. She then brought on Roy Daye, who began with a decent joke about how people assume he sells marijuana based on his appearance, but quickly degenerated into forgettable jokes based on tired premises such as slow traffic and the idea that women don't fart. In contrast, Adrian Cronk's delivery was more engagingly energetic, and his joke about soundtracks for animal documentaries was amusing and original. However, his closing bit about long distance dating was bland.
Following Cronk, Garrett Clark performed a second-rate set that had a lot of potential, but required serious editing: Clark performed his material in order from strongest to weakest, and his set consisted of only three jokes, all of which needed to be trimmed because excess info clouded the punch lines. Lastly, Michael Harrison delivered some chuckle-worthy remarks about the lifestyle of broke college kids and his mother eloping, as well as a good deal of material that was engaging but not particularly funny. Some examples of his interesting but barely amusing jokes included his story about ruining a woman's car with diesel, and his observation about how hotels often give you many useless pillows.
John Hastings began his headlining set with a joke about the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto that induced solid laughs, as well as a one liner about how the time between Christmas and New Year's Eve is like the "taint of the holidays" that was equally comical. In addition, Hastings illustrated how much parenting has changed through an anecdote about his friend hugging his son after he urinated in his boot, and recounted a ridiculous narrative about driving drunk that included a man who had a wolf in his truck. Though his whole set was dependably funny, it was Hastings' dark humour that allowed him to bury the disappointment of his overwhelmingly mediocre openers. His observations about his lack of hand-eye coordination due to being born premature, his rambunctious friend with cerebral palsy, and an STI scare he went through were all as distinctive and memorable as they were hilarious.