It seems unfair to review a stand up comedy show on the first day of The Atlantic Fringe Festival, as stand up requires the interaction of an audience to test out material, to hear how jokes land (or don’t) and to develop the right rhythm and pacing. It’s a cumulative process that cannot be honed alone in a rehearsal hall. And yet, someone had to go first, and this year it is Gerry Farmer and his show dually titled The Voices In My Head Come Out/If the World Had a Sack, I’d Kick It. It plays at DanSpace until September 9th, 2012.
Gerry Farmer is a charming and endearing performer who I think has the makings of a really fantastic stand up comedian. He is just self-effacing enough to get away with treading into the murky waters of politics, religion, race and gender (in)equality. He is obviously smart and perceptive about the world around him, and he roots his comedy in shared local experiences that the HRM crowd can really get behind. There are shots about Spryfield, Sid the Kid and an awesome one about racist Canadian cheese. Who doesn’t love a cheese joke? Nobody I’d be friends with.
I would love to see Farmer push even farther into the local and the specific in his act. He has set up that he is not the stereotypical black man and Halifax doesn’t get burned as often or as publically as cities like Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles and London, so he has ample really original material at his disposal. He speaks a lot about his mother and I’d love for him to take this even farther as well. His “mom” voice is fairly generic; it would be terrific to see an impression that really brings the uniqueness of her quirky personality to life. I would also love to see really specific impressions of his two year old niece who he talks about quite a bit.
I find that when comedians discuss broad subjects the jokes tend to be more hackneyed and often “safe” as well, but it is honing in on the specific aspects of our daily lives, the subtleties of the human condition, the shared experiences of a city, the dark corners of topics where only the brave dare shine their lights, that gives a stand up act its own distinct style and jokes that aren’t just funny, but memorable as well.
Reprinted with permission from The Way I See It Theatre Blog twisitheatreblog.com