Sunday, April 6, 2008

Beware the gathered masses

Thanks to Vancouver's filing cabinet-grey skies and the wretched current season of Madtv, I've laughed a lot less this weekend than last. That might also have something to do with the fact that last weekend I was part of the two local audiences that welcomed two LMAO comics -- Sarah Silverman and Margaret Cho -- for their first respective visits in years.

Friday night at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Margaret Cho brought her latest comedy tour "Beautiful" to Vancouver . It took me awhile (ie. years) to appreciate her enough to want to see her perform live. But I did and she was hilarious and the crowd loved her.

I wanted to put up a photo here from that show, but trying to use my cameraphone in the darkness of the Q-E was like trying to get a seat by the fireplace at JJ Bean on Main street. So, thanks to Zooglia's public photos on flickr, you can view a shot of Cho performing in Vancouver.

Cho's opening act was a well-chosen complement to her own shtick, and clearly appealed to the demographics in the packed house. The act was Liam Sullivan, better known as "Kelly" to millions of YouTube users. You might recall Kelly's video "Shoes" won the 2007 People's Choice Award for favourite user-generated video.

The show ended, but the weekend's hilarity sure didn't. The next night, me and the gang hit the 'burbs to see Sarah Silverman at River Rock Casino in Richmond. Unlike Margaret Cho, I fell fast and hard for Sarah Silverman from the first moment I saw her. She's funny like the Canucks are done for the season - there just ain't no way around it.

As much as I dig the Silverman, it was the audience at her show that really threw me. Mostly, she got huge laughs as her crude and blunt monologue slapped everyone in the face. But the problem with seeing shows at River Rock is that a noticeable number of people in this town can't manage a beer (or two or three) while out in public.

Sure, all comedians have hecklers. But hopefully the hecklers are smart enough to challenge the comedian enough for her/him to stay at the top of her/his game and wring some comedy out of the heckle. Or, the heckler isn't smart enough to do that and is effortlessly trounced by the comedians' comeback. But in the case of the audience at River Rock, the hecklers were too drunk to even catch her drifts or realize their own comments were complete nonsense and gave her nothing to work with. It was just embarrassing, really.

It got to the point where Silverman actually imitated one of her hecklers, presumably to illustrate just exactly what she was up against for anyone in the audience who perhaps couldn't clearly hear the heckler. And her imitation was simply that of a sober person mimicking a drunk person trying to speak. Yeah… it went like that. Nice.

Sarah Silverman also commented on how weird it would be if the whole situation "turned ugly". It seems to me that when a performer reaches the point of saying something like that to the audience, things are nearly out of control.

Fortunately, she handled it well and got some extra laughs out of it. But until some folks in this town learn how handle their liquor, River Rock would be remiss not to re-think allowing those dumb-arses into the show. This is the third comedy show in a year where I've witnessed this kind of thing at that venue. It appears, unfortunately, to be not an isolated occurrence.

Getting back to the laughs though, I'd love to put up a vid of Silverman's show, but I don't own this website. So go to YouTube and search "sarah silverman vancouver" for a good chuckle.

Meantime, here's a great short clip of Liam Sullivan arriving in Vancouver.

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