Nick Vatterott, Rhys Darby, and TJ Miller at the Just for Laughs Alternative Comedy Tour

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Just for Laughs Alternative Comedy Tour | T.J. Miller, Rhys Darby, Nick Vatterott | Bell Centre for Performing Arts | November 16, 2017

This group of comedians brings more than traditional observational humour to the stage. Their quirky content and physical theatre influence turn their sets into high energy entertainment that is full of surprises.

Nick Vatterott was our host for the evening and he demonstrated his strengths of impressions, quirky tangents, and meta-theatrical add-ons. He began his set in meta-theatrical style as a director’s commentary of his set played from a recording on his cell phone. He did a wonderful imitation of what it sounds like when you flip through the channels on the television, stopping every so often to do a longer bit. For example, one channel he stopped on was a commentary of the first ever baseball game.

Another one of his best moments was doing Riverdance from the waist up, which is essentially an awkward head shake. That was a crowd pleaser. Something that most can relate to was his description of people trying to order food in the accent of the language that the name of the food is in, such as margaritas or schnitzel.   

Up next was Rhys Darby, best known for his role as Murray the band manager in Flight of the Conchords. With his New Zealand accent and matching sense of humour, Darby was full of stories that he acted out such as demonstrating the might of the New Zealand army and describing the way they would yell “bullets, bullets, bullets” while doing drills to save on ammunition.

His physical comedy skills were on full display as he demonstrated the differences between the way people walk in New Zealand and in the United States, and shared his trick of shouting “approaching on your left” when he comes across slow walkers. As he explained, his urgent tone combined with his accent makes it unintelligible, but still has the effect of alerting people that he is coming through.

Darby also shared with us his audition for Westworld in which, having read nothing about the show, he thought it would be most impressive to imitate a robot cowboy.

To finish off a hilarious evening, T.J. Miller took the stage and interacted with the audience quite a bit. He even convinced someone to play the trombone. He told us about his two cats, Puffin and Geyser, and he treated us to a bit of mime at the end of his set.

Describing our society as “post-religious, post-meaning,” Miller had a few philosophical moments such as his description of time as the new god because it is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. This was one of my favourite ideas of the evening, and I also enjoyed his story about playing the trombone in Regina and being stopped by the RCMP.

These comedians presented their unique blend of physical comedy and quirky content to a very happy crowd. I’m sure that what some deem alternative is considered main stream to others, but what matters most is that it’s funny — on that count this show was a huge success.    

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