At the young age of 26, Jerrod Carmichael has already achieved the sort of career milestones that all but guarantee future fame. Earlier this year, he starred alongside Seth Rogen and Zac Efron in Neighbors, a Hollywood blockbuster. Then, Carmichael’s stand-up caught the attention of Spike Lee, who directed the comedian’s first HBO-Funny or Die stand-up special.
Carmichael’s smart, well thought-out material is matched by his careful, deliberate delivery. Carmichael tackled all the big topics, from race, wealth and class (you can tell how safe a neighbourhood is based on how high the street numbers are and the type of litter) to relationships, monogamy, and adultery (“there’s a reason fairly tales don’t have sequels”). This was truly comedy on the razor’s edge, where you hold your breath wondering where he’s going to go with a topic (“Anyone here want to talk about their abortion?”). And while most in the audience liked where he led them, judging from some stone-faced members of the crowd, not everyone wanted to go there.
Opening for Carmichael was Seaton Smith, well-known for his stand-up and sketches (See “Pimpin Referee“ on Funny or Die or his YouTube webseries Annoy Charlie Smith Inc). With rhythmic pace, punctuated by finger snaps, Smith steered the audience through his material on everything from relationships (“guys nowadays are considered creepy til proven uncreepy”), to sex (“nobady says ‘vagina’ unless something has gone wrong”), to black Republicans (“NO black politician should ever say ‘We need to get this country back to its roots!’ ”).
Jerrod Carmichael performs every night from to Saturday July 26 at Théâtre Ste. Catherine, as well as Saturday July 26 at 10 pm as part of Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity gala. More info here.
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At Katacombes, Toronto and now New York’s Sabrina Jalees opened for Nikki Glaser, of Last Comic Standing and co-host of MTV’s Nikki and Sara Live. Jalees is warm and engaging and quickly had the crowd on board as she delved into her material on her Muslim, Pakistani-Canadian family, being a married lesbian (“there’s no good way to ask your brother for his sperm”), and meeting her American wife’s hunting and military family for the first time at their home in the southern US: “Hello, I’m the lesbian here to steal your daughter, but look! I’ve built you a lesbian courtesy deck.”
Jalees and Glaser are good friends, and the camaraderie was evident on stage as they introduced one another. Their comedic styles were perfectly complementary, with Glaser immediately telling the audience about her relationships with non-committal men (“he can’t say ‘I love you’… so it’s not about feelings, it’s about phonics”), and setting up online dating profiles (“difficult when your hobbies are depression naps and frozen yogurt”), before then waxing nostalgic on the lost art of ‘finger-banging’ and wondering why companies aren’t making ‘masculine’ wipes.
If Carmichael’s comedy left me on the edge of my seat, slightly grimacing, Glaser’s left me nestled into my seat, barely able to sip my beer in between bouts of laughter. Again, not a better or worse comparison — comedy is many things, subjective being one of them.
Nikki Glaser performs every night through to Saturday July 26 at 9 pm at Katacombes, as well as on Saturday July 26 at 7 pm at the Bill Burr gala. More info here.
Natalie Willett is a comedy-obsessed freelance writer based in Montreal
Photo care of NikkiGlaser.com