by Doug Gallant
For some, the initial visual of comic Lorne Elliott standing at the microphone at Charlottetown's City Cinema is enough to open the floodgates of laughter. That's not unexpected. Before he even opens his mouth, he's got your undivided attention, drawn like a magnet to the trademark Elliott coiffure which, like his successful CBC radio show, goes madly off in all directions.
Then there's the undersized electric guitar which, when attached to Elliott's long, lanky frame, looks even smaller, much like Herman Munster clutching a ukulele. And then there's the look, a cat-who-swallowed-the-canary expression that lets you know you're in for it and you better be ready.
Then he starts. And for the next 90 minutes Elliott, a perennial favorite on the comedy club circuit and at festivals like Montreal's highly touted Just For Laughs event, lets you have it. There are comic observations on such everyday things as a trip to a P.E.I. beach, in which he discovers the male body's natural reaction to water just the other side of freezing, or his inability to do home repairs. There are unique insights into the intellectual workings of those who lead our nation and those who head our households who, according to Elliott are women, whom he rightly proclaims are by far the more intelligent of the species.
A good measure of Elliott's observationist humor is directed at himself and the dumb things he sometimes finds himself doing. Much of the rest is directed at the dumb things the rest of us do. A prime example is his reference to the fact that with the completion last year of the Confederation Bridge and a series of new toll roads on the mainland that allow you to bypass virtually every city, town and village between point A and point B, motorists can now drive completely around the Maritimes without seeing anything but other motorists.
Having spent several summers here, both working and playing, he's also developed some keen insights about Islanders and the tourists who flock to our shores, which he happily shares, like the fact that the two do not prepare for a day on a P.E.I. beach in quite the same way. One, he notes, packs sunscreen, tanning mats, flashy swimwear and assorted other paraphernalia. The other travels much lighter, taking beer and smokes.
There's more, much more, but that's between him and you. Elliott's comedy is a near perfect marriage of observation, imitation and illumination, a potent combination nurtured by over 20 years of live performances both as a solo artist and, early on, as half of the fabled duo known as Free Beer. Add an aptitude for slapstick and sight gags and the ability to transpose his musings to music and you've got the full picture of what the Montreal-born, Newfoundland-educated and P.E.I.-seasoned comic can throw at you in the course of one very hilarious evening.
Elliott's show has a good deal of new material, but those who've made his annual pilgrimage to P.E.I. part of their summer will find that he still features classics like his musical salute to lawn ornaments and his tale of weather-induced debauchery, Stormstayed In Stanhope. Elliott plays all this week and again next week at City Cinema. The show goes six nights a week, Tuesday to Sunday, at 9:15 p.m. The doors open at 8:45 p.m.
The Fredericton Daily Gleaner
By Anne Ingram
I don't know how you feel about it, but in my book, anyone who can stand alone on a bare stage. and keep an audience laughing for close to two hours has to be "some" talented.
That's just what Lorne Elliott did at The Playhouse last night. This fuzzy-haired comedian, who combines dry humor with musical paradies, skits in which he plays all the parts plus brilliant monologues, can hold his own against any of the big names in the business.
Lanky, rubber faced and definitely a master of the English language, Mr. Elliott is also a shrewd observer of human behavior--or should I say Canadian behavior. When he confessed that he comes from Montreal, the comedian quickly added "not my fault" before poking fun at all regions of the country.
During the course of the evening he became the guy from Saskatchewan who had never seen a winding road before, a very inexperienced sailor who didn't understand what "brisk breezes offshore" really meant, a tourist who attempted to swim in the frigid ocean off Cape Breton and the kid whose mother forced him to learn classical guitar when all he wanted to do was play rock and roll.
Mr. Elliott is a master of comic timing and quick delivery. And having been in the stand-up business for more than two decades he is able to switch immediately from one subject to another if he notices that the audience isn't being too receptive.
Not that this happened much last night. Although the crowd was disappointingly small, it was very enthusiastic. Who wouldn't be, Lorne Elliott is a funny guy and, praise be, he doesn't have to resort to smut or even close-to-the-bone jokes in order to make people laugh.
All he has to do is describe spring in Canada as "that time between the frostbite and the fly bite," sing an ode to "the league of lawn art lovers," or point out that when you start a renovation project you are letting yourself in for a load of trouble.
Most comedians have a stock of "husband and wife" jokes in their repertoire but Lorne Elliott brings the battle of the sexes right down into everyone's living room. He points out that when men look as if they are thinking deep thoughts they are actually thinking about nothing and he notes that while women like "to shop", the male of the species just wants to "buy stuff".
Written down on the printed page this may not sound very funny. I guess you had to have been there last night because it had me nearly falling out of my seat.
At the close of the evening Lorne Elliott asked the somewhat rhetorical question "so what have we learned here tonight?". I don't know about anyone else in the audience, but I learned that comedy is definitely alive and well in Canada and that once you see and hear Mr. Elliott you become an instant fan.
Last night this lanky fellow managed to make me forget at least for a little while, the GST, Sheila Copps and my income tax return. Now that takes talent.
I left The Playhouse with words of wisdom uttered by this deep thinking philosopher ringing in my ears. They are words that I will probably never forget - "live every day as if it were your last and sooner or later you are bound to be right."