Judah Friedlander Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, November 18
Published Nov 19, 2015Though Judah Friedlander was generally enjoyable, this was ultimately a second-rate show. All three openers performed unexceptional sets, and the headlining 30 Rock star stretched his act out to be 20 minutes longer than it should have been.
Host Andrew Barr kicked off the night with his amusing material about how useless cursive writing is, and the fact that he's had a widow's peak since he was 16. He got solid laughs, but Barr's delivery felt over-rehearsed and impersonal, and a few of his joke premises were generic. Following Barr, Paul Henry Murphy awkwardly performed a decently original bit about his bland name, and told an ordinary anecdote about being startled by his own reflection. After him, one-liner comic Rick Silber continued the trend of poor delivery: he told his jokes as vacantly as someone doing an offensively bad Stephen Hawking impression. Worse yet, a fair amount of Silber's material was half-baked: he often had to smile at the end of his jokes in order to prompt the audience to chuckle.
Self-proclaimed "World Champion" Friedlander was a welcome change after the show's mediocre beginning. Friedlander centred his hour around what he would do as President of America and/or Canada (being President of Canada was superior to being Prime Minister). With calm assertiveness, he addressed how he would deal with everything from drug legalization to Donald Trump. Similarly, he offered an unusual perspective on climate change. The World Champion theorized that the humans are not the cause of rising water levels: the water is just rising because fish are trying to take over the few parts of the world they have not yet claimed. In addition, Friedlander explained that obesity is just America's practical reaction to the fact that the universe is expanding.
Despite the fact that the majority of Friedlander's hour was about his hypothetical presidency, his strongest jokes were the absurd, observational witticisms scattered throughout his act, and his improvised humour. He sharply pointed out that one audience member's clapping was perfect, then keenly noted that someone's laugh was an octave too high. Moreover, the World Champion took down a few hecklers with impressive efficiency, and he comically riffed about a man in the third row who randomly declared that he was chewing spearmint gum. Unfortunately, Friedlander's hour was merely satisfactory because he made the mistake of taking questions from the crowd until he lost his momentum. Consequently, his show ended on a disappointingly low note.