Published Sep 29, 2016Toronto's own DeAnne Smith performed brilliantly at the Garrison on Wednesday night. Always a hair's breadth away from an internal monologue or a chiding of the audience as a whole for laughing at anything remotely sexual, Smith was unpredictable, improvisational and real.
A special mention is in order for opening comic Christophe Davidson. Davidson's brand of comedy was prying and invasive in the best sense. Whether speaking about the unfortunate uncouthness involved in pointing out the flaws in one's personality, or lamenting the unrealized sexual capacity of the human male butt, Davidson was hilarious, eloquent and absolutely genuine. His set was rather short even for an opener, but few comics can make as much of an impact in so little time. One would be hard pressed to heat up powdered oatmeal faster than he warmed up the audience for DeAnne Smith.
Smith is an incredibly multifaceted performer. While not without having certain recognizable ticks — the aforementioned internal monologues, berating of the audience, interacting with the front row, self-deprecation — Smith is wildly unpredictable. As it turned out, so was her audience.
One of the night's highlights is owed to an audience member in the front row. Smith, after telling a story about a standup comedian's stalwart defense of Bill Cosby, tried to launch into a segment of her act about strip clubs. In order to smoothen the transition, Smith asked an audience member if he had ever been to a strip club. He turned out to live in one. Supposedly rent free. It sounded like a long story and Smith — despite being riveted at the prospect, as was most of the audience — eventually had to move on, but the incredulity heavily informed the rest of the evening. It gave the rest of the set an immediacy, a "this is happening right now and no where else on the planet" sort of feel.
Smith's set had very personal moments, but they weren't moments of sober self-reflection. There were jokes about being a phony good listener, conflicts between feminism and experiences at European sex clubs and the gender they prefer to be addressed as by reviewers, were incredibly funny.
There's very little down time between jokes in Smith's comedy; it's smart, while admittedly being delightfully crude when the moment calls for it, but there are very few "what have we learned" or "let's get serious for a minute" moments. While there weren't as many one-liners packed into every minute as some comedians might try, she was nevertheless a force of non-stop funny.