Last night, the legendary Road Work Warrior himself, Dave Attell, kicked off this year’s JFL42 festival. The always cute and raunchy Nikki Glaser opened the show, but enough about her, you can catch her throughout the week. As for Dave, he was only in town for the one night, performing two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, so let’s get right to it.
Dave strolled out to a warm welcome and ACDC’s Thunderstruck. Right off the bat, it seemed that he knew us well. “Improvisational regional humour” he called it, as he hit the Toronto audience with what seemed like polished riffs on Jane & Finch, poutine and reference to an “emotional Zamboni.”
This was my second time seeing Dave live. The first was late night above a stripclub at JFL in Montreal this past summer. That night my car got broken into and my gear stolen, thus explaining why I took “The worst Attell pic ever”. But, I do look back on the show fondly and the contrast between that one and this one was striking. Of course last night he came with his trademark quick wit, and was his usual midget and porn-loving self, but the audience felt like they were there to see a pan flute performance. Whereas in Montreal, well you know Montreal. Here it seemed the non-laughers outweighed the die-hards at first, but it was cool to see it just took Dave twenty minutes to win them over. In both cases, it was evident how masterful he is with crowd work. Even last night in a giant theatre, he was still aware and ready to pounce on every drunk blond girl and bro in a baseball hat leaving to piss.
Some personal highlights from the show included Dave smoking a cigarette on stage, ashing in his cup and taking a sip, and when he brought a cute toque-wearing Toronto girl on stage to talk about the anal beads she found at her work, an animal shelter.
Anyway, I can’t think of better way to kick off JFL42. The show reaffirmed my belief that Dave’s truly one of the best. If you want more Attell, go listen to “Skanks for the Memory” (a 2003 album that got me through high school) watch his Comedy Central show “Comedy Underground” and check out his latest special “Road Work”.