Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Red Green in Concert Without Duct Tape

Back in February, I got a ticket to see Red Green in concert. Red Green is a Canadian who developed a whole empire around a semi-clueless guy who did handyman projects with duct tape, belonged to a lodge (think real life Flinstones) and had a variety of friends with quirks. My sister exposed me to this humor back in the 1990's as she was able to pick up the show from a Sault Ste Marie, Michigan TV station. Red "invaded" the US in 2000-ish and duct tape has never been the same. Many PBS stations, generally not in the big cities like Chicago, picked up the syndication and Possum Lodge fever swept parts of the US. I had to go back to Iowa to see him, although he was picked up by a small PBS station in Chicago about 4 years ago. Unfortunately, I didn't find out until a couple years ago so missed a number of episodes. Plus, the show is on Saturday night and I generally have World of Warcraft plans, not TV plans, on Saturday night.

I think the TV show is funny, more so because I've known people who use duct tape in the manner in which the character uses it. The relationship humor is spot on. I think the show appeals to those of us out in the sticks who have had to "make do", "make up", and "make over" what life has given us. I thought, if the show is funny, the stand-up ought to be as funny, too.

The show was held in the Rialto Square Theater in Joliet, Illinois. It's a great 1920's era restored theater that is a gem to walk into and just stand there looking. The photos I took were really blurry, owing to the crush of people around me who wouldn't allow me to just stand in one place and shoot. Plus, inside the theater part, I felt conspicuous using flash. The marquee is above and the carvings and pillars above the entry are carried out throughout the theater. I believe they have theater tours and it might be something to look into.

I got there a bit early. There is next to nothing open in downtown Joliet at 6:25 p.m. on a Monday night. Parking, in the one garage I remembered was by cash only. I had no cash. I almost never have cash anymore as 99% of the places I go take debit or credit cards. The guy let me park on the promise I'd come back to him. I asked where an ATM from my bank was and he directed me beyond the theater. I walked 15 minutes around downtown Joliet and never saw an ATM for my bank. I gave up and went inside, worried that I'd have a parking ticket or worse, have my car towed. Neither happened, but this is a notice to me. I need to have a 10 spot in my wallet at all times for things like this.

Now, about the show. Red Green encouraged people to take all the photos they wanted. I know a bit about cameras and knew my little point and shoot wasn't going to get him in any kind of focus. He did stop occasionally, to make a joke and I tried to take photos during those times. This is the best I could do.

The show is humorous. There were times of knee-slapping humor. There were times to chortle, to guffaw, to snicker. There were also a few times, when stuff fell flat but I guess that happens to all stand-up comedians. Knowing the TV show helps the humor. I think anyone dragged along who didn't know the show probably didn't get some of the jokes. Of course, I can't, a day later, recall anything that was stand-out funny, but the show certainly had its moments.

There was a woman behind me and to my right who thought everything was funny, every joke, every movement, every stare, every point at the audience. I can't go that far. The venue was not sold out and there were very good seats in front of me which were not filled. A couple of people left half-way through the first act and several groups of people around me did not come back after intermission.

I did not realize it but the TV show is no longer in production. They filmed 300 episodes and are working to get all shows up on the web site for free. I do know one of the actors passed away about a year ago and several cast members had moved on to do other things. At one point, the Canadian Broadcasting Company was going to cancel the show due to funding but the faithful raised a lot of money to help keep it on the air for another couple of years. This tour seems to be a result of the cancellation. Let's take the schtick to the people.

The thing, for me, is that although I think the show is really funny, the live comedy wasn't as good. This is the first "concert", if you can call stand-up a concert, involving a comedian that I have seen. I don't know if, say, Jerry Seinfeld at his prime, was like this. It's one guy, on a vast stage and everything is on him to keep the audience engaged. We have a shared theme here, The Red Green Show, but, I knew several of the jokes he used (Internet memes) and some of the jokes were familiar schticks from the show. I don't know that I had any real idea of what the show would be. This was new.

Now that I've seen him, I won't go to another show unless I give it as a gift to someone. For me, it wasn't the kind of humor that I am dying to see again. He's wry, he can make some very good topical humor, some pointed observational human traits humor, but about 25% of the show just wasn't, for me, funny. Still, I am very glad I went and if you know anything about Red Green, I encourage you to go to one of the shows.

I enjoyed going to this. The drive home was wonderful with a sliver of a moon, Jupiter and lots of visible stars. It was kind of the icing on a lovely evening.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


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