Published Feb 20, 2015With a duo of piano and cello doing jazz standards, a little something to take the edge off, as Doug Stanhope would say, the ambiance at Yuk Yuk's was excellent, though they would get mostly drowned out as the room filled to capacity with a young, hip crowd. Even still, the pianist evoked shades of Victor Borge and Chico Marx as he hammed it up in that far, unlit corner of the stage. Meanwhile, man of the people Todd Glass was over by the washrooms giving some last minute instructions to the venue, then hanging out to shake hands and take pictures with his fans.
As show time approached, Glass reiterated the audience directions, and gave a nice intro to opener Ross Dauk, who was brought to the stage by a live rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." It's hard to say how well Dauk's Saskatchewan-centric material on Olympic dressage and con men went over, but his bit on being arrested for a transit violation capped his set on a high note.
When Todd Glass took the stage to a rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" created with his own name as the lyrics, he immediately cranked up the energy, and kept it sizzling for an hour-and-a-half solid. Right off the bat, he moved into a tirade where he ironically screamed variations of "I'm a professional" until he was red in the face. This action started him sweating, which then became a callback joke in which he would repeatedly request the venue's doors to be opened.
Glass showed he could do it all. You want impressions? He's got one of Andy Kindler that is sure to please anyone… At least, anyone who has already heard of Andy Kindler. His face was like rubber. You could put his expression of flabbergasted incredulity in the dictionary. He also had common sense musings on commercials for mops and ShamWow that were up there with anything George Carlin did on the subject, and he brought it local with repeated plugs for local comic Chris James's twitter account.
Glass said he doesn't do mean crowd work, but then he turned around and told everyone into the concept of a "man cave" or defenders of the visible soap aesthetic to fuck themselves. He also drank two rye and cokes off a table in the front row, one of which was defensively sipped out of by its purchaser to no avail. There was even some classic Las Vegas action in there. He'd do the showman mic twirl when he'd nail a classic punch line, subsequently dropping the mic so many times that the top was all crumpled by the end, and wandered through the crowd a bit while crooning "Bim, Bam, Baby" by Frank Sinatra, commanding the crowd to sing along.
He had moments of meta-comedy too, the kind of comic's comedy that Kindler champions, rambling out loud about how comics stall when they can't remember their next joke until he remembered his next joke or how he doesn't know how to finish, or giving up on a bit when he flubbed a word. A half hour in, he did a quick recap of the quality of his jokes to that point, illuminating the internal dialogue the audience might have had. For good measure, he ripped a strip off crap comics who make fun of people who get made fun of enough instead of making fun of the people who make fun of already maligned minorities, as should be their role. He's obviously aware of the social context of his material, and its power to shift paradigms.
By the end of his set, Glass's voice cracked and started to get a little hoarse, but for good reason. He may have been half-joking when he said he works hard, but he sure as hell did for this show. He's no shooter of fish in barrels. For example, he came out as gay in 2012. While that would be a focus for most comedians, as expected as female comics talking about menstruation, Glass only touched on that aspect of his life for literally one minute out of the 90 he was onstage. Instead, his set flipped comedy tropes on their head and enlightened the thoughts usually left unspoken, striking the perfect balance between improvisation and crafted material, a mix of free-floating hostility, compassionate soapboxing, egotistical self-deprecation, and utter zaniness. He laid it all on the line with an almost uncomfortable level of commitment, and his effort killed that room. He drew the crowd into the moment like few can.