Photos by Sue Sadzak
Toronto is no stranger to stand-up comedy with a wide variety of comedy clubs scattered throughout the city. So when Funny or Die took some of North America’s funniest people on the road, it was no surprise that it would make a stop in Toronto. With the roastmaster Jeff Ross as the host of hosts and big names like iliza Shlesinger, Tom Segura, Sebastian Maniscalo, and John Mulaney providing laughs for The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, the world’s first traveling comedy festival was an original event not to be missed.
Although I had caught the tail end of Tony Hinchliffe’s set, his material was very funny, in particular his bit where his primary judgmental observations of his neighbours unexpectedly make him the hero of his neighbourhood.
Ever since I first saw her on season 6 of Last Comic Standing I’ve been a huge fan of Iliza Shlesinger. With a new Netflix special coming out soon and having recently doing a show in Toronto a few months back, I was eager to see what material Iliza would bring for her festival appearance. To say the least, I was a bit disappointed considering her set was almost identical to her last Toronto visit. Not to say that the woman isn’t funny, her infamous Party Goblin and observations between the opposite sex are guaranteed laughs, I was hoping she would bring something new or different to the Oddball stage.
Being somewhat aware of Tom Segura prior to the festival, I had little idea of what to expect. The bald and bearded comedian turned out to be one of my personal favourites for the evening. Striking a chord with his opening bit on the satisfying power of closing an elevator door on someone and holding on to a parking spot as someone waits for it had me holding my sides with laughter. Overall, his delivery, topics and character was definitely a personal stand out performance for me.
After a quick intermission, Jeff Ross preformed a little to get the crowd back into the swing of things, however, there were some technical difficulties that made getting into the comedic vibe a little difficult. It’s possible that because of the technical issues I felt a little disconnected to the rest of the show.
Brian Regan was another act that I had no prior knowledge of before the festival. His observationally sarcastic approach to his act resonated with me even though some of what he was talking about wasn’t always relatable.
Sebastian Mansicalo was a crowd favourite, receiving a standing ovation when he came out. His traditional Italian personality really shone through not only in his material, which included him talking about his hardworking parents and grandparents and his close knit relationship with his family but also in his ecstatic hand movements and cartoonish facial expressions.
Closing out the evening was another personal favourite in John Mulaney. He’s of the more relatable comics with topics such as college tuition, how Donald Trump makes for great television and being the beta in his relationship. His unique perspective on Christianity, oversharing things about what your child has done among others had me in stitches through out his entire set.
In the end, Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy Festival served up plenty of laughs for its incredible variety of comics.