Stand-up is difficult with a small audience. With a large audience, once the crowd's a bit warmed up, you get a bit of a rolling laughter effect – the energy amongst the crowd will bounce back and forth, keeping everyone in giggles from one punchline to the next. With a small audience, though, everyone's too self-conscious. You need to work hard to get them laughing, and then continue working hard to keep them there, or everything you've built up until that point will just collapse like a soufflé.
I saw Evan Desmarais at 10pm in a tucked-away tent, on a Sunday night that also happened to be Valentine’s. There was never going to be even as many as a dozen people in that show. But Desmarais got us laughing (and kept us laughing) for an hour, and I gotta say it’s not often you run into a comedian who can accomplish that.
A 28-year-old white Canadian guy, there is an element of fratbro humour to his shtick, but reinterpreted through the lens of someone attempting an anti-racist, pro-feminist sort of awareness. (And doing better at it than most.) The range of material is pretty standard: sex and relationship issues, childhood scrapes with organised crime, crying it out over The Notebook, putting oranges in your butt. Pretty much your average.
What separates Desmarais is to be found in his attitude: he is an open and earnest comic, and aggressively chipper in his crowd-work, able to tackle weird, gross and difficult topics and still keep it pretty light and upbeat. Definitely one to check out if you're looking for a little stand-up on a night out.