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I am always apprehensive when I go to watch stand-up comedy. See, I'm 5' 6", 200 pounds and bald as an egg. Saps like me have launched the careers of dozens of stand-up comedians. They pay us to perch in the front row.
That's why, when I go to watch Joey Elias at the MForum's annual Comedy Show at Moyse Hall, I choose to sit in the aisle seat of the second-to-last row. Unfortunately, it seems like everyone else at this event shares my apprehension - nary a soul can be found in the first 15 rows.
I'm still worried. For some reason, everyone has bunched together in the middle, huddling like nervous rabbits in wolf country, leaving me adrift and entirely exposed in in my aisle seat. Plus, I'm scribbling away in a notebook. All I'm missing is the giant neon "Kick Me" sign blinking above my head. Just before Elias comes on, I discreetly shift over to the middle with the other rabbits.
Elias is a seven-time veteran of the Just for Laughs festival. He's quick. Grinning at the expanse of empty seats we hope will serve as a buffer, he asks if there has been a mass firing recently.
No one is safe. Some of his best material revolves around his recent tour of Western Canada. "Calgary, Regina, Thunder Bay, Moose Factory - I'm living the dream," he quips.
After two weeks in Winnipeg, he says, the bison started looking cute. It was also in Winnipeg where he got stuck in line at a mall behind an elderly lady stockpiling discount toilet paper. "A 117-year-old nana buying 64 rolls of toilet paper. That's a lot of toilet paper," he laughs. "I don't want to be mean, but she might not make it. Maybe she should put it on layaway."
From Manitoba, Elias turns his sights on Saskatchewan. "It's a weird province, you know? Everyone is missing a digit. No one can hitchhike out because they're all missing a thumb." He also pokes fun of the fact that the country's second largest naval base is, strangely enough, based in Regina. "There were our founding fathers saying 'Where could we put the navy? How about right in the middle? That way, if trouble starts, we can portage to either side equally quickly.'"