Chris Fleming JFL42, Toronto ON, September 24
Published Sep 25, 2018Chris Fleming is so exceptional that even when he's working on new stuff, his show is better than most comedians' finished material. The ultimate fantasy of a Generation Z theatre kid, Fleming pranced around in a striped onesie and purple shoes while gushing hilariously absurd wit that was even more enthrallingly bizarre than his outfit.
Fleming seems to live in an alternate dimension. To him, St. Vincent's music sounds as repetitive and mechanical as dialling a British phone number. Nirvana sounds like two bears making a land agreement. Even unexpected applause from the crowd prompts an insanely quick, gleeful quip from Fleming: "Oh my god, is Malala here?!?" Like a surreal, gawky Billy Eichner, Fleming is unmatched in his ability to skewer pop culture with brilliant jokes that somehow also have the structure of poetry.
The musical sections of Fleming's hour were just as lyrically dense as his sharply written standup. "Grad Student Shuffle" saw right through the bullshit of burgeoning intellectuals with lines like "I'm a community organizer, but I'm not on speaking terms with my roommate." Better yet, "Very Unlikeable Guy" ended with a desperate plan to teach boring people to have something to say, which made me fall sideways in my seat in laughter.
There were a few minor things that needed brushing up. Fleming's video about the mythological superfruit called "Morton" ran too quickly for Fleming to say all of his lines at a reasonable pace, and he went on many off-topic tangents that disrupted the linear flow of his closing jokes.
Nonetheless, it barely mattered. The racing speed of the Morton video only caused Fleming to rush a couple of lines, and still got huge laughs. Likewise, Fleming was still hilarious when he remembered to tell us about a priceless Youtube comment at the last minute, plus his closer about how desperate Elton John sounds when he sings "Benny and the Jets" became even more exaggerated after Fleming went on frantic tangents about Ripley's Aquarium and the tech rehearsal he did before the show.
In short, Chris Fleming is a phenomenon you need to witness. With a few tweaks and a bit more practice, his new hour is sure to reach the same heights as his last show Showpig, which we gave a perfect score.