Live Show Recaps

Published on April 24th, 2010 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Craig Ferguson: Massey Hall, Toronto

“It’s a great day for Canada everybody!”

Indeed it was, as Craig Ferguson played the second of two shows in Toronto on Friday night.

Members of his Robot Skeleton Army filled Massey Hall to not-quite-capacity for the 9:30 show, (the early show was a total sellout), welcoming Craig to the stage alongside LLS supporting characters and Chris Saladin (the short bondage guy) and Jeff Arnold (the large black guy) with a short song & dance number.

Craig Ferguson @ Massey Hall, Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Immediately drawing attention to his tight white jeans (“I look like a gay painter”), Craig launched into a dirty-as-promised set, quickly pointing out that there is no “ooh la la!” censorship like there is on his show.

His material ranged from the personal (his sex education compared to that of his young son’s, pissing off celebs with his LLS material, marrying a Yankee) to the external (sexting, Tiger Woods, and Fabio’s classic run-in with a goose). My personal favorite moment was his realization as he got older that young comedians are full of crap, punctuated with “you notice how some things are like other things?” mocking.

His standup was an exact DNA match to his LLS monologues, which is to say that regardless of the material, you’re there for him. Watching Craig is like hanging out with that one friend you have who’s way smarter and cooler than you, but doesn’t realize it (because if they did realize it, they wouldn’t be hanging out with you). Using the word “engaging” seems like a trite understatement, but rest assured we could have sat there happily all night.

Craig threaded the show together under the pretense of wanting to tell us a favourite old joke early on, but always getting too distracted with other ideas to get to it. He finally did – it was indeed a good joke – and thankfully it didn’t signal the absolute end of the set like you’d expect.

Chris Saladin and Jeff Arnold returned to the stage, as you would hope (they couldn’t have flown here just for the 1-minute opening!) to re-stage the infamous Britney Spears opening number from the LLS. While the choreography wasn’t as tight as the original, I can’t think of any bigger bang to go out with. (Video)

Craig Ferguson @ Massey Hall, Toronto. Photo by Sharilyn Johnson

Unfortunately, opener & LLS writer Randy Kagen did little to get the audience warmed up. The crowd simply didn’t seem on board, really only connecting when he mentioned his intervention for pot use 92 days earlier at the hands of Ferguson himself (it’s too bad he glossed over that tale in favor of generic pot jokes, because if we’re Ferguson fans, chances are we enjoy a good rehab story). The number of topics he covered meant constantly consulting his notes – yes, notes – which I’m hard-pressed to forgive because he ain’t new at this game, nor does he have the alt-comedy fame to pull a Garofalo on a nightly basis. He’s not an unfunny guy, but I felt like i was watching a club comic who never bothered to make adjustments for working a theatre. The one positive thought: if Craig selects him to be his road opener he must at least be a pretty good guy to hang out with.

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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