Filed under: Reviews, Festivals
To learn about these daily JFL42 roundups, read the first one! Now, onto Tuesday's comedy shows, featuring Hari Kondabolu, Ali Saddiq, and World Champion Judah Friedlander...
The first time I'd seen Kondabolu was a little over two years ago, and since then I've been a big fan. He has the professional poise and delivery of a decades-long seasoned comedy vet, but material that he's still passionate about and can deliver with genuine enthusiasm and energy. Normally someone with an act that tight can easily fall into phoning it in, but I get the feeling that's something he seldom does. Even more impressed with him since seeing him the first time, this show did well to re-affirm my fandom for the guy.
Audience Review: If you have to review the audience for a "political comedian", the first thing you'll note is a lot of applause breaks. Not that Kondabolu didn't earn them -- he most certainly did -- but it's a cathartic thing audiences like to do when a comedian is not only funny, but also on the right side of an issue. That aside, several times I noticed audience members around me in fits of laughter mid-way through the show, and I don't think they were expecting it. I think a few of them showed up thinking his act would be all Trump talk, and ended up too giddy to be completely mad about the world. Either way, everyone got what they wanted and then some. 8/10
Another dice roll for me. I had little knowledge of Saddiq before he was announced for the festival, and I went in pretty much blind. I was genuinely impressed with his laid-back approach and slick storytelling ability. He spent a good two thirds of the show sitting down, and rode the line between traditional comedy and one man show theatrics. His closing bit was an absolute monster of a story, and he said it was soon going to be in the next season of Ari Shaffir's This Is Not Happening. Be sure to find it when it drops. My favorite surprise of the festival thus far.
Audience Review: Attentive as hell, and hung on Saddiq's every word. I'm starting to think that my early tepid audience reactions were a fluke, as mid-week JFL42 audience seem to get the score pretty well. It might also be the Royal. Saddiq's brand of comedy is perfect for a theatre like that: very chill, but also generous with the laughs when they came around. 4.5 out of 5 stars
The World Champion graced us with his presence, and spent the majority of his set opening the floor to audience questions. Already well known as one of the tightest, most efficient and razor sharp short-form joke writers working today, Friedlander does not get the credit he deserves when it comes to improv. Not that he needs another accolade, but I'm sure he wouldn't object to it. My expectations were high, and he more than met them.
Audience Review: The audience at a Judah Friedlander show is almost as important a factor in the show going well as he is, as his act is so heavily dictated by audience interaction. Nearly every interaction yielded comedy gold, and even people who yelled out weird or nonsensical retorts only added to the broth without spoiling it. A few of them even noticeably cracked Friedlander, and if a crowd can even make the World Champion laugh, that's something worth boasting about. Gold Medal
Tags: JFL42, Hari Kondabolu, Judah Friedlander, Ali Siddiq, stand-up comedy, Toronto, comedy festival
J.D. Renaud is a writer, comedian, producer, and visual artist originally from Oakville, Ontario. You can follow his weird thoughts on Twitter at @jdrenaud.
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