The Danger Dulgar Comedy Show gathers a wide variety of Montreal comics together for one Sunday every month to showcase their material to whoever will listen, and throw a few dollars into an empty pitcher. It offers comedy at its rawest, with no lights nor even a stage—just a comedian, a mic, and a small collection of bar stools, glamorously tucked away in the corner of Bar Bifteck. The vibe at the bar wasn’t exactly abuzz—Bifteck hummed along with the same enthusiastic urgency of my grandma’s living room—but upstairs, a creative process was whirring.
The comedians on Nov. 8 ranged widely from former writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Canadian Comedy Awards winner Heidi Foss, to McGill undergraduate student Emma Wen. The diversity of performers—in their ethnicity, comedic experience, and age—made for a show that was well-rounded and representative of the different voices that exist within the Montreal stand-up scene.
An eclectic group of comedians was accompanied by an interesting variety of subject matter. Wen rattled off jokes about the relation between cell biology and modern economic principles before dryly commenting, “OK, nobody got that one.” One noticeable commonality between the comics was that a large portion of their jokes focused on personal vulnerabilities. Habib Saim and Tatianna Lah both delivered jokes about dealing with breakups and becoming newly single—usually ending in the remedy of frequent masturbation—while comedian Kieran Waters started his act by commenting on the shockingly few number of true friends he has on social media. Brutal, self deprecating humour is not uncommon in stand-up comedy, but it worked particularly well when coming from relatable amateur comedians. Similar to self-deprecating comedy, awkwardness became a common thread throughout the show. Whether it was a forgotten punchline, a cringe-worthy step into tastelessness, or simply a joke falling flat, the show was far from a smooth operation. You could see each performer trying out something new and then making a subtle, or not so subtle, mental note of the audience’s reaction. At the end of Saim’s final joke about asking to have a threesome with his neighbours, for instance, he exclaimed, “Fuck! I need a better walk off joke!” Even Foss, the award -winning veteran, pulled out some memorable one-liners that simply didn’t go down well.
In these awkward moments and mishaps you can see the creative process of these performers. Finding what’s actually funny about a joke is a challenging task. Comedy is a very intangible form of performance, and it’s almost impossible to explain specifically why one joke is funny and another isn’t. The Danger Dulgar Comedy Show becomes the perfect venue for comedians to play to an actual audience while still working at their craft. They can go through the tedious creative process of finding the elusive golden formula for what makes people laugh through trial and error.
If you’re looking for an eye-watering, a laugh-a-minute, professionally executed show, the Danger Dulgar Comedy Show might not be the place to go. The show doesn’t cater to the typical audience’s desires for cheap laughs, but it isn’t supposed to. This show seems to be primarily for the creative process of the artist, not the hedonistic desires of the audience. While the comic is trying to get the audience’s approval, they end up feeling like a means to the end of an artistic process. For the casual fan of stand-up, this isn’t the most enjoyable experience, which explains the lack of attention given to the show. However, it accomplishes more than amateur comedy. It shows where the proverbial comedic sausage is made, in a strangely intimate and captivating creative workshop.