Michael Che is the first Just for Laughs Gala host, or at least the first host I’ve seen, to fully embrace all aspects of the job.
It’s not just having a solid standup set for the beginning, which he did. It’s also not just having the ability to riff on and with the audience, which he clearly did as well.
Introducing the other comics performing is something other hosts I’ve seen have treated as almost a throwaway emcee duty. Che, on the other hand, made his intros a solid part of the show.
Of course he did. Reading dry, witty one-liners off a teleprompter comfortably into the camera is pretty much his day job, or rather his close to midnight on Saturday job as a co-host of SNL’s Weekend Update.
My favorite joke of the night came during one of his intros:
“Our next comic comes from England, which is known for its alcoholism and Islamophobia. He should do great in Quebec.”– Michael Che
There were other edgy gems in his intros and throughout his set There were also some solidly funny sets from the other comics performing last night.
Jessica Kirson was the standout for me. I’ve seen her perform before, but her inner monologue bits, seemingly a new edition to her act, narrating both what she and the audience were thinking of her set in real time, was some fourth-wall breaking hilarity.
Jay Pharoah, who closed out the evening, had the large audience laughing the whole time he was on stage. His bit about escaping unwanted advances in Greece was particularly good.
Fellow SNL alumn Fred Armisen was, um, interesting. A couple of short songs, a singalong, and that was it.
Fin Taylor, the aforementioned Brit, made some good points, and one really solid one, but, for the most part, I wasn’t really sure where he was coming from and where he would land and I’m still not sure.
Pete Holmes and Sam Jay delivered solid sets, as did fellow Canuncks Matt O’Brien and Phil Hanley. It was a night jam-packed with talent, as Che remarked at the beginning.
Also kudos to the warm up act/hype man whose name I don’t know. He started dancing in our row and decided to let his energy get everyone ready instead of jokes, as those would be forthcoming.