DeAnne Smith has quickly become one of the Montreal stand-up scene’s most applauded comics. Her latest show, Stand Up / Strip Down, is a stimulating blend of neurosis and ribald. With it, she has delivered a delicious entertainment dish à la Montreal.
Between each of the three comedy routines delivered by guest comics, the audience members were treated to five- to ten-minute burlesque-style strip shows. The comedic triumvirate included relative newcomer Chason Gordon, as well as two names more familiar to Montrealers: Heidi Foss (of This Hour Has Twenty-Two Minutes fame) and Ali Hassan.
It was Smith who, throughout the night, captured the audience’s queer-friendly hearts. She was a terrific Masters of Ceremonies, getting the most laughs from her impromptu antics and engagement with audience members. She left the impression of someone who’d want to hug the world – but in doing so, klutz that she is, would likely squish a child or two in the process. Hers is a dynamic style of comedy that drifts effortlessly from personal quirks and situational awkwardness, to the topical absurdities of (mostly) politics. What an entertainer! This reviewer wouldn’t hesitate to hug her back, no matter the risk involved.
The strip show intermissions were rooted in parody; Smith organized her show around cheeky fun, and wanted to recreate the spirit and atmosphere of a bordello. Audience members were thus invited to play the parts of obsessive body-maniacs, as the strippers sauntered saucily across the stage – and out of their costumes. There was a foxy number in a black dress pearls, who expertly busted out of a red corset to reveal an electrifying pair of glittering booby tassels. A second dancer paid homage to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary,” which culminated in acrobatics as she jumped and – horrifyingly, for this male reviewer – landed in a split. The third act was more circus than strip show, but after juggling bricks for a bit, the brave performer cast off his shirt and pants to reveal silver boxer shorts, which clung tantalizingly to his thighs and crotch. Finally, the last stripper introduced some exoticism to the evening with a spicy act, straight from the tropics.
Stand Up / Strip Down tapped into that part of Montreal’s ethos which combines the self-conscious with the sexually and sensually unapologetic. It’s entertainment for those who are honest about both their insecurities and their appetites. Smith’s theme is universal, and her performance is original and skilled enough to make her one of those great (and at $10 a ticket, still affordable) comedians who are definitely worth checking out.