Here we are, like the Doors song, this is the end… Yesterday after a long week of many shows I ended up running out of steam and just not being able to make my way to many of the shows I booked save for one. The Alternative Show at Second City, a midnight show, this is where I felt I needed to be and I was right.
The Alternative Show is always feels it’s as much for the comedians as the comedy fans, the audience is often peppered with people from the industry, various performers from the show or fans who have fallen in love with the irreverence of Andy Kindler. I started as the latter and am slowly shifting along the spectrum to comedy industry adjacent. Either way, it was a real delight and I felt I needed to be there that night and I’m glad I was.
Andy was, as he has been all week, on fire. His material was light and loose touching on the process of comedy and bits he returns to over and over again year after year that are really gifts for those who’ve put in the effort and been to many shows like an inside joke between friends. He talked about ADHD, teased other comedy professionals, took digs at his own career and the ever present boxed water at the festival which has been the subject of almost every comedian’s set at some point or another this festival. Throughout the festival we were also gifted with zippy moments between Andy and Todd Glass where Todd would come out on stage and interrupt Andy (at one point with a leaf blower), they’d trade blows about one another’s material or personality and then we’d move on to the next act. It was the kind of rapport that can not be faked and it was a joy to watch.
The first act of the night was Marina Franklin, a Harlem New York based comic that used word play and personal asides to generate a rapport with the audience. Her comedy was self deprecatory and engaging touching on sex, guilt and social engagement. It was an amazing set by a veteran of television, club and comedy festivals. If you have the opportunity to perform you should jump at it.
Next up we had the legendary Reggie Watts, this was an interesting set as it didn’t include his usual musical stylings. Reggie spent his time on stage riffing and keeping a loose almost anti-joke material that was delivered with such charm and grace it won the audience over immediately, even a long drawn out moment of Reggie pretending to speak but no noise coming out he landed like the pro he is. One of the touches I enjoyed the most was his repeated returns to the stool to check the set list on a phone that was not there. It was a delightfully absurdist moment in the evening and like all things Reggie does a joy to watch.
Vancouver based Sophie Buddle was next on stage where she landed on material about drugs, family and cheating. The material was sharp, high energy and hilarious. A SiriusXM Top Comic runner up this year Sophie’s a delight to watch and her laughter and joy on the stage is infectious. A definite must watch when you have the opportunity.
Following Sophie was Tom Thakkar, a Brooklyn New York based comedian, he had an easy and approachable nature that drew in the audience. Tackling themes of life in New York, his ethnic ambiguity and racism he punctuated these heavy topics with a light insightful humour a highlight of which was an extended riff on Jackson Galaxy. A must see when able!
It was an example of an act thinking on the fly and owning the stage that was impressive to watch and a reminder of the kind of pressure Comedians face in ways that I don’t think any other type of performer experiences. The Heckler is almost unique to the world of comedy and it’s not cool. If you don’t like a show, fine, get up and leave (especially if that performance is the last performance of the evening on the last night of the festival). Don’t make a scene or think you can inject yourself into the moment. The audience wont like it, the comedian wont like it and ultimately you look foolish.
Ultimately though, the festival could not have closed for me with a bigger bang. It was a real joy to watch this entire festival and the last four days closing it out with Andy has been a great pleasure. Come back over the next couple of weeks. Next week we’ll run our one on one interview with Jackie Kashian and two weeks after that we’ll be running our chat with Matteo Lane. Thanks for following along and keep laughing!