Kurt Braunohler Rivoli, Toronto ON, September 29
Published Sep 30, 2015It's a rainy night in Toronto, and Kurt Braunohler is aware of this. For him, it's been a "sad Tuesday." But that's okay, and he launches into some great stuff about Toronto. There's the subway system ("Well, it's not really a 'system,' is it?"), and the guy he saw on it who declared, with a heavy lisp, "We're getting soft serve ice cream!" The crowd takes it well, but it's hard to read them. He says something about trust, sets a timer on his tablet, and continues on. His story about proposing to his wife on a balloon ride, while being joined by a "Balloon Pilot," goes over fairly well. His musings about dog owners, who yearn desperately for unconditional love ("Hitler's dog loved Hitler.") doesn't bring the house down, but it's solid. Periodically, you think that he might be tired, and that would stand to reason — he's done many shows already for JFL42.
Then suddenly, he reveals that he is tired, and this is when the set really gets going. He reveals that he's been alone for days, and this can make you crazy. That's because, when you're alone for lengths of time, "Everything is okay," meaning, no one is there to tell you not to do something. You can prance around your station like "David Bowie in Labyrinth," acting on every illogical whim. His energy escalates, and the crowd joins him. This tangent dovetails into a crafted bit about being on the road, and now he's fully in it.
He cleverly acknowledges the cliched use of segues, like the one he just attempted, and stomps on it. From there, he recalls an experience where, while in Australia, he visited a strip club. While in the bathroom, he hears gunshots, and unbeknownst to him it's now a crime scene. But Braunohler, oblivious, asks for his $20 cover back after the room evacuates. He was "just drunk and American enough" to do that, and he loves that the guy who refunded him must think this stuff happens in America all the time. And he'd be more or less right.
His set becomes a lesson on how you bring it back. Acknowledge the problem (him being tired), because we're all thinking it, and use it. It is the perfect launchpad for his final segment about being tall, white and male, and how that's bullshit. But what of his 40 minute countdown? As it turns out, Braunohler is a lover of absurdism. He is someone that Kickstarted $6,000 so he could hire a skywriter to paint "How Do I Land?" over L.A. To him, this is good work, and makes the world a better place. And so, he revisits this notion of "trust." He has blindfolds. He says that if you take one, you are pledging trust. Those who don't take one are dismissed, but those who do follow him out the back… like I did. As a group, we were forced to smell the roses, and decidedly glad we did.