Ryan Belleville and Friends Comedy Bar, Toronto ON, July 22
Published Jul 24, 2017In order to make new material, every comedian has to talk through new ideas on stage. It's a messy process regardless of the performer's age or experience, but it's essential and unavoidable. Having said that, comics should save their untested material for an open mic, not a Saturday night show that claims to be stacked with comics performing sets that they'll be taping at Just For Laughs next week.
Ryan Belleville & Friends was nothing close to what Belleville said it would be when it began. Half of the lineup wasn't going to Just For Laughs this year, and most of the comics didn't fully commit to their material because the audience was sparse and lukewarm. The show did feature "some of the best comics in Canada," as advertised, including Just For Laughs alumni Pat Thornton and Chris Locke, but even they struggled to connect with the audience. The whole night just felt like a collective mission for both comics and crowd members alike to just try and make it through to the end.
Though it was a substandard show, there were a few giggle-worthy moments. Natalie Norman's bit about how you can get anything written on a cake at Loblaws was mischievously funny, plus Terry McGurrin's and Ryan Belleville's jokes about having young kids were adorably amusing. However, the standout of the night was Nour Hadidi. Minus a bit of rocky experimentation with a short joke about her name, her set was the only one that actually made the grade that was promised. Polished and original, Hadidi was definitely ready for her taping at Just For Laughs. Her jokes about what would happen if the U.S. had to outlaw the best things from the countries they're banning immigrants from were the best of the night.