Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mopping up the second coming of Bitch Salad

When it comes to metaphors, there are good ones and there are great ones.

That, was a great one.

So if you're a reader of this here blog, remotely connected to me on facebook, or have somehow been monitoring my dreams/nightmares over the past two weeks - you'll know that the second installment of a little show I host and produce called Bitch Salad happened this past Friday.

And what a salad it was. FANTASTIC!!!

Thanks largely in part to the positively epic writeup I got in Now Magazine last week (for real... I'm still in disbelief... I was expecting a sidebar column next to the tanny escort classifieds... whoa), the crowd was happenin' and predominantly homo (with the exception of Jo-Anna Downey's regulars from The Eton House in the front row), which was just amazing.

It was EXACTLY what I had hoped for - gay dudes who never go out to comedy shows in the audience, dirty-talkin' female comics in their element on the stage - and everyone KILLED!

Anyway... starting at the beginning. I can't tell you the sleep I was losing this week over ticket pre-sales - that were going abysmally at best. Now, people almost never buy tickets in advance for comedy shows, so this typically isn't grounds to worry... however last time around nearly half the show had sold in advance, so naturally I was all "WHAT'S DIFFERENT THIS TIME!?!" and was thereby calculating that we'd maybe have a cool 20 people in the audience.

I don't think I've ever been wrong-er. People were lined up like it was a club night or some shit. And do you know what you could have knocked me over with? A feather. Yeah.

Anyway - inside - to give you an idea of how librarian-in-a-nunnery-tight the ship that I run is, doors open at 8-SHARP! and at 8-SHARP! a precisely-timed mix comes on that's exactly half an hour long begins. I know if inside and out and know exactly how we're doing for time and alert everyone shit like "Gym Class Heroes means we're about 15 away..."

The final song of the evening? Timely - a remix of Lindsay Lohan's "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)". Somewhere, Michael Lohan felt a chill up and down his spine. And somewhere else, Dina Lohan wet herself with pleasure.

Pressing on: hottest shit crowd ever. Just wonderful. Slight snaffoo on my part - I told the bit about my one eye'd ex and said his name - I went a little overboard channelling Maya Rudolph's Whitney doing a "this betta not be you Bobby B!"-esque thing. We'll need to edit that out before the shit hits youtube. Oops.

First up of the night (because she needed to drive to a cottage the same night) was the prodigious Sabrina Jalees (which I pronounced very Oprah-ly, "J'LEES!"). Aside from being absolutely hilarious and disgustingly seasoned as a comic at only 22 years old, has the cutest girlfriend in the known universe. ADORABLE!

She killed it. And for the first time that I've ever seen, did her gay stuff. Which is so important. Gay public figures of middle-eastern descent aren't exactly all over the place, so I think that's yet another reason why it's so fantastic that Sabrina's out there.

Of course outside of the gay thing is the very fact that she's a WOMAN of middle-eastern descent doing COMEDY. She's the only one I can think of... As I said when she came off, "Sabrina Jalees! The funniest middle-eastern woman since... ... ... ... ... Oscar-nominee for 'The House of Sand and Fog" Shoreh Aghdashloo- yeah... I got nothin'..."

Pressing on: two words you probably haven't heard describe someone since Abigail Breslin are "adorable" and "brilliant". Well, they're all-too applicable when it comes to describing Katie Crown. Jesus in heaven. So talented I can't stand it.

You know someone is a comedic genius when you can't describe them to save your life. You can't allocate a point of reference, like "oh, she's like Sarah Silverman-meets..." - No.

I've tried to describe Katie countless times - "she has a studied awkwardness... umm... she's cute and disarming but not feminine... hmmm... she makes a lot of really funny noises... fuck..." - but I just can't.

The closest comparison I can make about Katie is that she's like Canada's Amy Sedaris. I got more "I had no idea that Katie Crown existed! Holy fuck! I love her"'s from people than anyone - not to mention my co-fags and I's newest catchphrase: "come celebrate Meg Ryan's birthday at the Hillside Mall". Don't ask me what the context of that was, but it was brilliant.

Next up was a veritable institution of Canadian comedy, Jo-Anna Downey.

If you don't know Jo-Anna, that's a shame. She's hosted and produced Toronto's longest-running open-mic for the past nigh-on 12 years (I believe the 12th anniversary is right around the corner) and I'll go on record and say she's the greatest EmCee I've ever seen.

It kinda blew my mind to see her doing material and not talking to the audience like she normally does (and to hilarious effect, may I add).

After the show, Jo joined us for some cocktails at what is becoming our ritualistic after-hangout, Zeldas. Jo, who'd already had some cocktails, was hilarious because when a half-in-the-bag and around younger comics she gets like one of those grande chorus girls of yore who's like "listen up toots, I been in this biz for 65 years and it's about tits and ass. Always has been, always will be" and it all feels very show-biz and I love it.

Anyway - next up was my resplendent BFF Nicole Arbour, whose standup I hadn't seen since she went on tour with that Molson concert series, and let me tell you, she has aged years as a comic. But still fresh as a daisy in every other respect and don't you forget it. = )

As I introduced her, apparently I didn't speak about her at all. Apparently I was far too excited about her making her feature-film debut in "The Rocker" alongside Rainn Wilson (from "The Office"), Christina Appelgate (from "Married... With Children") and SNL's Kristen Wiig... of such characters as 'Penelope', 'Aunt Linda' and 'The Taaarrrget Lady' and I got entirely wrapped up with pronouncing Nicole's last name as if Kristen Wiig as 'The Taaarrrget Lady' was pronouncing it... "Aaaarrrrbour"... and I'm sorry about that.

Anyway. CoCo killed it. KILLED it. Bedecked in a hot--pink mini-mini-mini-dress that defied all gravity, reason and logic by keeping her goodies covered, she blew the roof off the place, only to hop on a place 6 hours later and host a big to-do in Calgary. Amazing.

Next up was someone who wasn't in the poster (because we didn't get her photos in time) nor the listings (because they were based on the poster), so as a result, we'll be using her image in the background of the next poster. Jillian Thomas had HANDS DOWN the best intro and outro music of the night: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to enter, Nicki French's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to exit.

Jillian fucking Thomas is fucking hilarious. I can't even handle it. She's got a bit about how she used to be in a Christian rock-band called Witness and treats us to an excerpt of one of their 'hits' with searing conviction. It's pretty much too hilarious for me to handle.

Last of the night was the powerhouse hilarity of Dana Alexander - one of m'best girlfriends and Canada's most shamefully underrated and underexposed talents. It was like being at a gay def comedy jam - awe-inspiring comes to mind. [*Editor's note: Forgot to get a picture with Dana. So I figured I'd re-use this little jem...]

So all in all, fantastic. And I think it hit me more than ever how necessary it is to have a show like this to showcase these particular comedians for this particular audience.

Jo-Anna said something very interesting afterwards: she said she didn't have a good time because "it was too easy". She didn't have to fight to win them over, no one did. It's at this point that I'd like to reference a documentary on female comedians from 1991 called "Punchlines" (NOT "PunchLINE", that's a movie starring Sally Field and Tom Hanks... common mistake) in which Kim Wayans said something that really stuck out to me: in a typical comedy club, "Women need to work to get the audience. Men need to work to lose the audience". It's still so true. Not every time, but many times, I'll see a male comic get up there and the audience is on their side from the get-go - eager and ready to laugh at whatever they have - and it'll be after the third-or-so bomb that they stop giving him the benefit of the doubt and their interest leaves .

It's so different for women. Again not every time, but many times, I'll see a woman take the stage and automatically arms fold, smiles drop and backs get up and it won't be until after their third-or-so hit that the audience starts giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Not at Bitch Salad. It was downright triumphant to see the audience on all the comedienne's side before they got up there I hope it continues. Of course, I also think the introductory mix from 8 PM till 8:30 has a lot to do with it as well, but there's no real way to know.

Anyway. That's pretty much it. We went out afterwards and got up to all sorts of shinanigoats... then decided to video blog - or vlog - about it Saturday night before going out for yet more shinanigoats... I now excitedly present, my first co-fag vlog!!!

C'est tout,

--- Aj