Lil Rel & Friends Katacombes, Montreal QC, July 26
Published Jul 27, 2017"I think I just put this show together because I wanted to watch it." Lil Rel Howery laughed.
Unlike most shows that feature a host and their "friends", Lil Rel & Friends wasn't just a host matched with a bunch of his random acquaintances: they were his actual friends. You could always see the joy in his face as he talked about each performer on the show, and occasionally you could even hear Howery's laugh cut through the crowd's giggles as he genuinely enjoyed their sets.
Every act on this bill was original, up-and-coming, and hilarious. After Lil Rel told a bizarrely amusing tale about going out with a 59-year-old woman, Jackie Fabulous shared an anecdote about taking an exceptional crap that managed to pull off the rare feat of a highbrow poop joke, thanks to her hyperbolic rapid-fire lines about how that dump changed her life. Likewise, Ricky Velez showed that he's a smart comic to watch with a joke about how Americans barely reacted when Trump claimed all Mexicans are rapists.
All the other comics on the show were observational comedians with straightforward, ordinary styles of delivery like Fabulous and Velez, but each of them stood out because they instilled their personal experiences into their material.
James Davis focused on his sense of style and explained how he views fashion as a competition. After Davis, Ron Taylor set out to debunk the perception that he's a nerd by posturing about how he's stronger than his appearance might indicate. Nonetheless, he still comically revealed himself as an intellectual by joking that it doesn't add up that Africa simultaneously has the highest levels of starvation and an insanely diverse, large population of animals.
Following Taylor, Jay Alexander centred his set around his weight and his hair loss, then Kevin Iso talked about being African while growing up in the U.S. Alexander made the two main topics of men aging seem fresh again by somehow involving references to meth and squid ink in his observations, then Iso made his material shine with a spot-on impersonation of his teacher reading the attendance. Chris Powell closed out the show with a story about lying to his daughter about what it means to "fuck the shit" out of someone. His bit was cruder than most of the other comics' material, but it was still a fittingly funny ending to a great show.