Tony Hinchcliffe JFL42, Toronto ON, September 26
Published Sep 27, 2018Tony Hinchcliffe is one of the world best rising top comic talents, apparently. He said so repeatedly during his set at the Royal Theatre, and sure, let's believe him, despite the fact that five pages deep into a google search for "Tony Hinchcliffe rising top comic" reveals no such accolades. Hinchcliffe is as much a construction of his own ego as anything, so let's go with it.
Best known for his appearances on roast battles — or on Pete Holmes' HBO show Crashing, in the context of a roast battle — Hinchcliffe has made a name on his mean streak, but over an hour of comedy, proved that maybe he lacks substance to back that up. He came out without an opener and immediately regretted it, given that the room was "cold as shit," comedy-wise. He got some mileage out of mocking the JFL42 pre-show announcements — about two or three minutes worth of laughs from a bit that he returned to for about ten minutes.
He wants to be a villain, possibly, and there's certainly edge to some material, although one could question its sharpness. One joke consists simply of the claim that there were fewer car accidents on the day of the women's march. That's it — just women are bad drivers. There's no clever twist or spin, and nothing unexpected other than bad taste.
Bad taste is kinda as far as Hinchcliffe is willing to go, in terms of villainy. He's the type of guy who casually calls women "bitches" without awareness — or if he is aware, sees that as just the sort of boundary-pushing comedy he's doing, standards and political correctness be damned. Screw the thought police, I'll demean women all I want because I'm one of the rising top comedy talents in the world, he seems to be saying.
That would all be fine — Anthony Jeselnik is headlining this very festival after all — if only Hinchcliffe were funnier, if there was an unexpected comic turn in his meanness or if there was an surprising punch up instead of his smug, arrogant punching down. Claiming that #metoo is only going after unattractive men, and calling Amy Schumer a pig (with no more insightful commentary) gets laughs from the frat-bro meathead level that Hinchcliffe's comedy is pitched at, but it's all a bit brothetic.
He has all the mechanics of being a great standup — good stage presence, excellent sense of pacing with his laconic delivery and long pauses, but his act isn't as smart and edgy as he seems to be convinced it is. Too bad. I heard he was one of the rising top comics in the world.