By Vincent Lee (@vinceleewpg)
Friday Evening Gala: Characters
Friday night’s theme was drawn from the realms of reality television, and who better to host than a woman whose family has their own show, Shannon Tweed. Yes, the former 1982 Playboy Playmate and wife of KISS frontman Gene Simmons, made her comedy hosting debut at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. All eyes were on her as she walked on stage wearing a stunning red dress where you could see one of her still killer legs at age 55. Initially, I found her voice to be very raspy, only to find out later that she was battling bronchitis and a broken toe. So how did Tweed fare? Really well actually, since all her jokes were appropriate for her, and it’s pretty easy when your hometown is Dildo, Newfoundland. No joke. Tweed talked about how she was glad to be back in Winnipeg, mentioning how she enjoyed Gene receiving the key to the city — only to realize it didn’t open anything. On thoughts about her own reality show and living in a house where she knows she’s being constantly filmed? She said it was better to know that the cameras were there than not knowing.
The evening belonged to Sean Cullen, where he owned the stage. This was the CBC’s second taped-for-television gala, and sometimes that meant things needed to be re-filmed. The show’s theme was about “reality television,” right? What’s more real than having to redo a character bit, not once, not twice, but three times. You won’t notice this after the final edit, but during the taping, Cullen had to redo take after take because of the chair’s decorative fur had fallen off, then his eye patch came off, then his microphone fell out of his pocket. Like a true performer, he kept the audience entertained, and they appreciated both his effort and comedic talent. Keep an eye out for “The Canadian Super-Villian” when it hits CBC television airwaves. Cullen closed out the gala by posing as James Lipton from “Inside the Actors Studio” with the help of Shannon Tweed. I’m not sure that part was scripted or not as I believe it was ad-lib to whatever Cullen threw her way. Watching Tweed get hit on by a hyper-verbose Cullen was a hit with the audience.
Runtime: 2 hours and 25 minutes
Friday Late Night Gala: Observational Comedy Disorder
The late night gala was hosted by none other than Harland Williams. I don’t know if I was tired or not because this was getting into my third hour of watching comedy, but I didn’t find him that funny. Either that or I was offended by his joke about shaking a Chinese person hard enough to make him speak English. I’m going to say a little bit of both. Fraser Young, best known for his appearances on MuchMusic’s “Video On Trial,” had some moments, but I rather have him stay in Toronto to continue making fun of music videos.
A surprisingly hilarious new comedian on my radar is now Simon King. He’s quite an aggressive fast-paced energetic comedian. If you’ve never heard or seen him before, imagine if Hustler Patterson and Matt Liebl’s beard had a love child, and if that child had dare I say, a George Carlin spirit to him. That result would be Simon King. According to King during his routine, the only difference between him and the guy by the bus stop is that he has a microphone. Covering topics including a hilarious rant about being “not pro-gay but against idiot,” King was a huge hit with the audience and was a great way to close the show.
King is headlining at Rumor’s Comedy Club tonight at 10:30 p.m. Tickets to the 18+ show are $20.
Runtime: Approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes
The Winnipeg Comedy Festival ends Sunday.