The LAST DAY of JFL42. Does that make it the ultimate day? Well the acts will determine that. It’s been a ridiculous nine days so far. I’ve been spoiled with the sheer amount of talent I’ve seen. It’s not something that’s been done alone either. Having informed friends to suggest worthwhile performers to watch has made this fest what it is. Going in with some idea rather than stumbling blind has meant that of the 21 shows I’ve seen so far, 95% or so have been excellent. I haven’t done the math there, obviously. Four shows today, then tomorrow I’ve gotta write one big article summing up the whole experience. Before that, how was yesterday?
7pm- Demitri Martin.
A friend of a friend offered me two tickets so I brought my girlfriend along. Demitri was Demitri, as Demitri is. A ton of clever one liners and illustrations. The fun thing about Demitri is that little pause that comes between the end of a joke and peals of laughter as recognition sinks in. Demitri was great, but our seats weren’t. As an addendum, they were also free, so I’m not shitty about it. Usually this wouldn’t matter so much, but it made it kind of hard to hone in on some of the jokes drawn on poster paper. We did that thing where you close one eye and make a hand telescope thing over the other. It helped a little, but that was the level of eye strain required.
Demitri is one of those performers who fills me with awe. Maybe a smattering of awww too. He’ll deliver these jokes and you’ll wonder how hasn’t anyone done this premise before? His mind just works differently to most (his early special “If I” is a nice summation of his origin story). Testament to this quickness was his response to a call out from the crowd. “Do something about hyperglycemia.” He paused “Some people have hyperglycemia, but why doesn’t anyone ever talk about those of us with glycemia? There are so many of us.”
Fun show. Many, many jokes.
10.30pm – Moshe Kasher.
I could see Moshe Kasher multiple times at the same festival. He does so much goddamn crowd work and he’s quicker than a fucking cheetah. His was also the longest line by far I’ve seen for any show. Stretching all the way down the block. Two openers: Sarah Tiana (who I’d booked and skipped three times this festival) and Natasha Leggero (who also happens to be his wife). Great sets but sadly enough seeing Demitri meant I had to push Emo Phillips to tonight, meaning I’m skipping Leggero. Anyway, preamble.
Moshe’s material circled around the idea that he used to get around a lot and now feels strangely uneasy about being able to raise a child. Also, how invasive is it to ask a couple of they’re “trying” for a kid? It’s basically asking them about how much they’re fucking. Weird, especially when the question comes from your grandma. His lightning quick delivery and ability to incorporate crowd work into his act was mindblowing and damn near brought the house down repeatedly.
11.59pm – Alt Show with Andy Kindler.
Kindler’s Alt Show started late and ran late. I think we were out of there around 2am after an onslaught of bizarre sets and uneven crowd.
An aside. I know Second City is an institution, but it’s a shit place to see stand up. It’s a wide and scattered room plus you’ve got servers coming around throughout the show to take drink orders. It’s disruptive as hell. Second City is so fucking far away from anything and it really shits on the rest of your night. Loving the festival, Second City Alt Shows were a terrible fucking idea.
Yeah, weird crowd. Sometimes tepid, sometimes monstrously responsive, even overly so. A few overenthusiastic dudebros got reigned in very quickly by Kindler who had no time for their shit. Surprise drop in sets from Emo Phillips (who is still amazingly clever) and Anthony Jeselnik doing a strange rivalry bit, with Nathan Bargaze playing the punching bag. Sets from Mark Forward (who I’ve gushed over enough for one festival), Leggero (whose material didn’t quite land with this crowd), Chris Locke (Great comic, but how does he seem to move at 1.5x human speed? It’s mildly unsettling) and some others that my foggy 2am mind couldn’t remember.
Got home around 3am and collapsed into bed. One more night (which coincidentally coincides with Nuit Blanche). It’s gonna be a weird one.