Port Credit Comedy Fest Opens to Big Laughs

The second annual Port Credit Comedy Festival kicked off its three day engagement last Thursday at the First United Church at Lakeshore and Mississauga Road. The church -- which also played host to the festival last year -- was packed with comics, attendees (lots and lots of attendees), hors d'oeuvres and boozy adult beverages (so transgressive!).

The show, packed to the rafters with a more mature audience braving the obscene cold, was hosted by former talk show host and homegrown talent Mike Bullard. Bullard's effectively grumpy routine worked well on the "sea of white faces" before him. Acting (or just being?) the perfect cynic, he chirped audience members for having boring jobs in fluid exchange (something to do with cars?), operating Cooksville car dealerships and choosing unoriginal names for their renovation companies.

While some bristled at the jokes about the community members' wealth and seemingly ho-hum professional endeavors, the routine proved that most people love to laugh at themselves -- and props to Bullard's good sport veterinarian who pleasantly withstood being called out multiple times.

The first comic of the night was British import Chris Gibbs, who played it safe with dead-on accent impressions and talk about Canadian politeness. His routine included a cute anecdote about a Toronto man yelling at him to stop lest he be hit by an oncoming streetcar. In true (or perhaps stereotypical, as I've met many rude Canadians and sometimes am one) Canadian form, Gibbs's savior promptly apologized for yelling at him in order to save his life.

The next comic to hit the stage was the delightfully semi-vulgar Darcy Michael. Michael, who just landed a sitcom called Spun Out and successfully shed 120 pounds, won the audience over with enthusiastic f-words, swipes at Peterborough, an edgy joke about food poisoning being "nature's bulimia" and a diet plan comprised of diet, exercise and cocaine.

Michael also bravely shared two tales: his very public 2004 marriage proposal to his now-husband and the stony, judgmental silence of the bystanders at the Canucks game who witnessed it and his first introduction to gassy Bikram yoga. While not everyone can relate to the first story (unless they too proposed to their same-sex partner at a sporting event), most trendy suburban people have tried some form of hot yoga and been subjected to a symphony of farts (or at least I have). Michael's yoga experience also involved a wardrobe malfunction, and we all know those are always funny unless they involve a woman's "obscene" nipple at the Superbowl.

After Michael exited the stage, the festival's lone female comic, Erica Sigurdson (from CBC's The Debaters) took the mic. Sigurdson's cynical and appealingly low-energy routine went over well with the audience. She, like most other comics that night, stuck to every[wo]man comedy about relatable issues. She joked about avoiding sex with her husband, drinking too much wine alone and sponsoring a child to fill a void (and feeling guilty about putting said child's picture on her "food box"). It was the only routine designed with the 30-something woman in mind, and it garnered laughs from everyone.

Since the median age of audience members was probably 50-ish, jokes about the benefits and perils of growing older were popular. If one comic capitalized on the "it's good to be older" shtick, it was Graham Chittenden (of Just for Laughs and The Comedy Network's Match Game). Chittenden said he couldn't wait to be free at 65 -- an age that's akin to "Friday after lunch at the office." He also alluded to old-age hip fractures being caused by vigorous sex. Daring. And visual.

He also spent quite a bit of time ripping on him and his girlfriend's beloved (or not-so-beloved) pug. A sweet pug who loves him yet leaves her hair (hair, he says, that may very well stem from her rectal-region) in his food. Something to think (if not too hard) about.

The last comic of the evening was headliner Frank Spadone (also of Just for Laughs fame), Spadone also stuck to everyman comedy, joking about life in an Italian-Canadian household, pregnancy hormones (and his wife's bionic sense of smell) and colourful dates with his "controlling" wife. The hyperbolic rant about his wife's backseat driving drew a ton of laughs, but the silent tour de force came at the end of the routine when he talked about his father telling him he was an accident. Spadone said he was an unplanned child who grew up in a house that was half-home/half plastic-covered showroom. When he questioned his father as to why he couldn't wrap something more important than a chair in plastic if he didn't want more children, his father allegedly said that if something is wrapped in plastic, his wife won't sit on it. Awesome.

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