Kick Ash Comedy Show Tuesday Oct. 23rd

The Mona LisaKick Ash kicks off again next Tuesday with our King and Queen of the Mountain – Emma Wilkie and Chris Sandiford!

Also on the bill are:
Stephanie Ein
Carlin Potter
Nour Hadidi
Jason Hatrick
Patrick Millerd
new Montreal resident Matt Shury
and Rena Hundert (of On the Spot)

Free show, cheap drinks, great laughs!

9pm show start, be early for a good seat.  Andrews Pub, 1239 Guy (below St- Catherine, near Guy Metro)

Introducing BattleCOM

BattleCOM has been called a rap battle of nerdity, a yo momma battle for people who like their mommas, the 8-mile of geekdom, but most commonly it’s been called awesome.

Lightening speed rounds as two performers take the stage to battle for the crowd’s affection one line at a time.  Part scripted comedy, part improv, part attitude and knowledge this show pushes comics to reach out of their comfort zones, interact and adapt – all for the audience’s love.

How it works:
Battlefields (topics) are predetermined, and the Battlers will come prepared.
– Battles are a best of three. It can be won in the first two rounds.  Ties earn no points.  Winning is determined by audience vote (via colour coded Battle Flags).  A clear majority (approximately 60%) is needed for a win.
Moderator announces which Battlefield is being fought.
– Moderator then calls to the stage the two Battlers, by point of view and name.  In the case that one performer is still onstage (they won the previous round), Moderator calls up only one more Battler

First Round: positive – defend or exhalt your position / point of view
– first to go is determined by previous battle, or second battler called to the stage starts
– second performer’s positive statement
– Moderator comments and calls for the audience’s vote

Second Round: negative – attack your opponent’s position or character
– loser of round one starts (if previous round was a tie, moderator’s choice)
– second performer’s negative take
– Moderator comments and calls for the audience’s vote
– If it is a sweep (two wins by one Battler) see resolution below

Third Round (if necessary): Free for all. Battlers choose to attack their opponent or defend their positions
– loser of round two starts (if previous round was a tie, moderator’s choice)
– second performer’s turn
– Moderator comments / audience votes

Fourth Round: In case of ties, the Moderator may start another free for all round or call for a revote
– loser of round two starts (if previous round was a tie, moderator’s choice)
– second performer’s turn
– Moderator comments / audience votes

Resolution
– Moderator announces this battle’s winner, thanks / derides the loser
– If the Victor had won the previous round (so now a Victor twice in a row) they are retired with honor as a Master Battler, only to face one last Battler (or second Master Battler) determined by this Battle Field.
– If this Battle was the Victors first win, they remains onstage to face a new Battler maintaining his position
– If no Master Battlers have been awarded, the last Battler standing wins the Prize.  If one Master Battler has been determined, they face off against the last Battler standing for the Prize.  If two Master Battlers were crowned, they face each other to determine which gets the Prize.

– The Prize
– The winner (either Master Battler, or Grand Battler or Last Battler Standing) receives the accolades of the crowd AND      the choice of performing 5-7 minutes, or selecting someone to perform 5-7 minutes of material

A typical show will consist of 3 Battle Fields and 6 Battlers plus a Moderator.  Winner of the final Battle Field generally gets a little more time.

Press Release: Halifax Shows

“Halifax Comedy OG Paul Ash…” – The Coast, Oct. 2012

Paul Ash is returning to Halifax to play 5 shows at Yuk Yuks Halifax (in the Westin Hotel, 1181 Hollis Street), a club he was instrumental in helping to open.  Co-featuring for Oct. 11-13th (8:30pm) with the charming and Talented Christophe Davidson (@thischristophe), hosting a special edition of Yuk Yuks Open Mic on Oct 17th (8:30) and unveiling his new comedy combat show Battle-Com with a special late night show (10pm) also at Yuk Yuks.

 “Halifax audiences are standing up and taking notice of the Comedy Dawgs…” – Chronicle Herald, 2004

 Ash, originally from Nova Scotia, is a fixture on the Canadian comedy scene.  He’s worked for Festival Just For Laughs for over 12 years, has been a juror for the Canadian Comedy Awards, has won CBC’s Laugh Out Loud and may be best known to Haligonians as one of the cofounders of the Comedy Dawgs, the stand-up comedy collective that germinated Halifax’s current wave of comedy.

“Without Paul Ash and the Comedy Dawgs, there would be no comedy scene in Halifax… there would be no Picnicface” – Andrew Bush, 2010

 Paul Ash is that special kind of person who sees the best in everyone, except himself. His self loathing comedy is peppered with rural charm and big city cynicism.

“Paul Ash’s shows have the following qualities, which stem from the man himself: an unpretentious atmosphere, enthusiastic performers and appreciative audiences. Halifax’s loss has undoubtedly been Montreal’s fortunate gain” – Examiner.com (Stephanie Ein)

 

Showtimes:
Thursday Oct. 11th, doors 7pm, show 8:30pm.  $12 regular, $7 military, $5 student
Friday Oct. 12th, doors 7pm, show 8:30pm.  $16 regular, $12 military & student
Saturday Oct. 13th, doors 7pm, show 8:30pm.  $16 regular, $12 military & student
Wednesday Oct. 17th, doors at 7pm, show at 8:30pm.  Just $5 (just hosting)
Saturday Oct. 20th doors 10pm, show 10:30pm.  Just $10, $5 students and military

  “Comedy in Halifax now is akin to the music scene in Seattle circa 1993? – unattributed quote 2004

Thank You (originally posted April 25th, 2012)

Too Much June 2008 by Linda KachuriI just want to say thank you, to everyone who’s come to a show I’ve put on or been in.  To comics who’ve done my shows or have made me laugh, thank you.  To audience members, who’ve shared their laughter, thank you.

I’ve been at this a long time, with some success, and some kicks in the teeth.  I keep going back because of the people, the people who laugh, the people that honestly say “thank you” and “I really love your stuff” – the people that get it.  I’ve recently gotten some national recognition from my peers (I can’t say how yet).  A short film I was happily part of last year was selected and is playing in Cannes, at the festival, not just in someone’s basement in that town.  I recently took a new contract working at the Festival Just For Laughs, which was my school of higher learning in comedy.

Learning comedy never stops.  Each performance, each crowd, each production teaches something new.  Living in a city that had no comedy clubs taught me I’d go crazy without the chance to express myself.  Trying to start a show there taught me how low some people value my beloved art.  Reestablishing myself, again and again, move after move, taught me not to rest on my laurels or achievements.  Keep striving, keep growing, keep writing and keep honing.  Be thankful for your loved ones who let you occasionally get manic.

I’ve seen some amazing firsts, comedians who streaked sky high – who’s ability was visible their first time on stage.  I’ve seen slow machines catalogue and compute and get better with each set.  I’ve seen people who’ve come to the stage with nothing but heart – and I loved them, even when crowds didn’t.  I’ve seen cults of personality, wonders of originality as well as thieves, borrowers and bombs – and I try to figure out what makes them do as they do.  I’ve met some of my heroes, and most of them didn’t disappoint – because they knew – you do it for the crowd.  It’s not really for you, it has to entertain to truly be valid, but secretly that gives you what you need.

Most of all I’m grateful for those that extended a hand, to help me grow as a comic and a person.

That’s why I love nights like tonight.  A Kick Ash Comedy night.  Each Tuesday (and some Saturdays) for the past 3 and a half+ years, I’ve had the pleasure to present a mixed bag of amateurs, first timers, semi and full time pros.  I didn’t know I was developing a philosophy towards the show, but tonight it hit me.  This is our chance as a community to extend a hand.  It’s a terrible dive bar, the sound is a step above fisher price, the light I built is actually mounted in an empty tomato juice can and sits on the bar – but people come, they listen and they laugh.  We’re in it together.  There’s no budget, no real chance for advertising, yet they come and the show doesn’t disappoint.  Sometimes, it even has shades of greatness.

Too Much 2008 June photo by Linda Kachuri 2A young man asked me, why don’t you charge cover?  Originally I was against having a show without a cover – the audience would perceive the show as having no value, but now, word of mouth has spread, people know of the wonder that happens there each Tuesday, and how invaluable it is.  How can I get you more money?  This show isn’t about money – it’s an education.  It’s a place to try new things, hone new bits, stretch.  Why do you have so few acts on?  More acts would mean less time per act, which wouldn’t give those acts struggling to make the next step a chance to stretch, give them the time to grow into their set or hang themselves with their weaknesses.  Identifying their weaknesses will help them defeat them.  This is a show to witness the artifice, before it’s swept under a showman’s cloak.  This is a show to rub shoulders with the future comic greats.  This is a show where people come to actually see the performers, chance to meet them and say “thank you, I really love your stuff”.

Thank you, you’ve all been too kind.  Mwah.  I love you all.

Paul Ash
Wednesday
April 25, 2012

 

Kick Ash King of the Mountain

For the past month there’s been a little experiment happening at the Kick Ash Comedy Show, it’s called King of the Mountain.  How it works; the audience votes (via secret ballot) for their favourite two comedians of the night – it could be any of the people onstage – including the host or the closing act.  Those ballots are checked at the end of the night to determine the “Kings (or Queens) of the Mountain”, those two winners are offered paid spots on the following week’s show; one to host, one to close.  Each week (with the exception of the Kick Ashiest monthly best of) the audience votes to see who continues.  So far, no one has managed to last past one week!  With the breadth of new talent hitting the stage trying to shine, the competition has been fierce.  Last week (September 25th) saw a clear winner with Dan Bingham, and a tie for the audience’s second most preferred between Jeff Klassen and Greg Hamilton.  Rather than pick, between the two of them I invited them to be the closing duo while Dan hosted this week (October 2nd).  Dan did an amazing job in a night filled with ups and downs, a packed house of serial smokers, special guest and the beautiful chaos that we come to expect from Andrews Pub.  Still, we garnered two new Kings of the Mountain.Bookworm

 

 

 

 

 

The lineup for next week’s (October 9th) show is:
Host: Jeremy Dobski (aka bookworm)
Closing: Phil Campeau
with
Emma Wilkie 
Dan Laxer
Leah Zylbering
Galit Benrobi
Chris Sandiford
Mo Vee Vartanian
Carlos Vezina
and one possible special guest

The Kick Ash Comedy Show
free at 9pm every Tuesday
Andrews Pub
1239 Guy (Guy Metro)
Montreal, PQ

Special Tonight: Yarn

Tonight, Wednesday Oct. 3rd, 2012, I’m participating in a story teller show, which is new to me.  Even though I like to consider myself a story teller style comedian, this is the first time I’ve been asked to participate in this type of show.

I’ll be telling the possibly true tale of how I may possibly be the material witness to a murder.  If I may say it’s a rip roaring good tale filled with uncomfortable interactions, Irish Mobsters, heroin bars, and many many false endings.

Where it’s going down is Cagibi 5490 St-Laurent, in Montreal.  Showtime is 8pm and also includes:
True stories by Taylor Tower and Jeff Gandell
Fiction by Katrina Best and John Paul Fiorentino
Improvised story by Joshua Budman

Follow up the evening by staying at Cagibi for a night of the musical stylings of DJ Kali and Mr. DNA’s Caustic Lounge – where they intend to possess you (sonically) for a night of audio infestation.

Yours,
Ash

Film Review: Looper

Looper

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Pierce Gagnon, directed by Rian Johnson.

Okay, I’m a bit of a sci-fi nerd and a movie fan. That said, I usually find time travel based stories to be simplistic and / or gimmicky. Looking at Looper, I was on the fence; a dual lead film, two good actors (one rising star, one… more of a skilled entertainer than master thespian) and a relatively new director with a small (but good) body of work. Add to that mix, $30million budget, 1.5x the budget of The Brothers Bloom (Johnson’s previous film) and much higher than any of the TV episodes he directed since that film’s release. I tense up when I see wads of cash handed over to a ‘newer’ director, as it leads to self indulgent film making, sometimes, even in seasoned directors.J. Gordon-Levitt

Add to this trepidation the big ‘gimmick’ of the film, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis will be playing the same character, just at different ages, who actually meet thank to the main ‘gimmick’ of time travel – and the much touted prosthetics that JG-L would be wearing. Seeing some of the early poster art, my immediate thought was that he looked more like a young Sean Connery than a young Bruce Willis – this could be really bad. If the technology existed for Eddie Murphy to play 8 characters who interact with each other in The Klumps in 2000, couldn’t they have casted a single actor to play both roles? Surely they could find an actor that could play young and old – Matt Smith’s Doctor Who does so on television without tons of makeup, sometimes in the same monologue cutting from youthful enthusiasm to the weight of age. Maybe they were afraid of the logistics, even in the age of CGI, of getting the shots with eye lines and emotive context, that the constant reshoots necessary to secure a scene with one actor playing two roles would inflate the budget even further.

More likely, Gordon-Levitt is still too new a name to carry a film with this budget, so he needed to be paired with an established (bankable) property, Willis. Willis’ everyman hero, established so well in the Die Hard franchise (great films) was easy to identify with, like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo; just more bad ass, like we all wish we could be. Variations on this archetype has cemented Willis as the star he is, evolving as he aged, Fifth Element, 16 Blocks, Red. In Expendables, he seemed like the only actor who got it that he was to parody himself. But does Willis have the emotional range to recapture that youthful swagger needed by the young hitman, could he convincingly pull it off? His Planet Terror character definitely had layers, including a smoldering menace. Maybe he could have, maybe I’m only saying that after seeing the dynamic job he did in Looper. This film is more like a passing of the torch to the next generation of thinking everyman action stars, which seems to be a niche JGL is fitting into nicely (Inception).

But a friend won a free pass, so I could see it with no risk. The movie tag line seemed less than inspired:

“In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits.”

Sigh, gangsters with time travel. But the cast is solid. Shortly into the film, it’s obvious – care was taken with this production. The set design is solid. The dystopian world, the looper contract, the various mob roles are all explained with very little exposition, most can actually be gleaned in the interactions and the world that’s shown. From the little things, such as currency, old vehicles that have been retrofitted for electric power, to the masses of homeless, people scrounging and thieving to survive living in old office towers and sewers contrasted by the high life of a looper, or a person with connections, the sparkling skyline, access to pleasures and above the law it is obvious that this story is part of a much richer and fuller world. As the film rolled, it became easier and easier to immerse myself in the story. The prosthetics on JGL were still noticeable, but it was his impression of a young BW that shone through.

My recommendation is that you go see this film

Minor SPOILERS may follow

Little things really helped flesh out the world. The Economic disparity, the references to the hobo wars, that so few vehicles were new (mainly converted to run on solar power), reference to the TK gene, even drug use being most fashionable via eye drops all paint a plausible world, futuristic but still with ties to our world.  Such dedication to world building made me wish Rian Johnson had been at the helm of In Time, a film that suffered from an incohesive world view.

The looper contract, and the criminal organization it spawned (in the now, run by Jeff Daniels) appears simple but works on many levels. The looper contract itself “doesn’t attract many forward thinking individual”. “Loopers are well paid, they lead a good life…” and they do, up until 30 years after their retirement. Loopers kill people sent back in time, because disposing of a body in the future is now incredibly difficult. So they send them back, to the time of the movie, so they can be killed and disposed of. Loopers are contracted to do this until the person they kill are their future self, closing the ‘loop’, hence the job title looper. Then they are then retired to live life on their savings for 30 years at which point they are captured and sent back to be killed. Hence not “forward thinking”. Loopers are provided with a weapon, a single shot blunderbuss, with a range of 15 yards, impossible to miss at short range, impossible to hit beyond 15 strides. Loopers also have to check this weapon when they visit the ‘office’. Policing the loopers were the gats, goons with a slow firing pistol (of the ones shown in the movie, some seemed single shot, some were revolvers). The gats’ guns have a longer range and more accuracy than a blunderbuss but are still archaic by today’s weapon standards. Why did the organization use such obviously flawed and outdated weapons? The film does go to show that the ‘organization’ does have access to better quality weapons (P90s were being used at one point), but in a way it acts a policing of the organizations underlings. The loopers, such as Joe (played by JGL / BW) are not really being hired for their intelligence; they are not ‘forward thinkers’. They are selected for their lose morals, hunger for a better life and a willingness to sell out their future for a better today. Such people may be prone to voice displeasure at management with an ill advised takeover attempt, attempts made difficult with the limitations of the tools available to them. Same goes for gats, who seem to chafe at the good life that loopers lead, but lord their ability to police the loopers over them.

Most of the problems in the film seem to come from the fact that Joe was the youngest looper ever recruited, and proved to be much more intelligent than most of his peers. Something realized by Abe (Jeff Daniels), but not immediately recognized as dangerous.

Major SPOILERS alert

The early example of Seth (played by Paul Dano)went to demonstrate not only the danger of not closing your loop, but also the nature of time travel. Choices made affect the future, but only when they’re made, so when future Seth made the choice to sing a childhood song that made now Seth pause, and prevent killing him, all the bad things that followed did not immediately catch up with future Seth, they only happened once the actions were taken by and upon now Seth. If future Seth hadn’t been removed from his timeline, the actions taken against young Seth would have appeared instantaneous to him, but since the actions taken were after he travelled to the now, their affects only appeared as they were done to young Seth, to gruesome effect. Bruce Willis’ Joe described it as foggily remembering the actions of now Joe (JGL) but only as, or after, now Joe had done them. He maintained many of his memories, even after he had changed the past (as shown in the fast forward dreamlike sequence of his life after he had ‘originally’ killed himself). One thing to note, and something I’m not clear on (and a reason to see the film again), the woman future Joe loved and married, the woman who managed to get him of ‘drops’ (Joe’s drug of choice) face morphed in Joe’s memory into a blend of the original (Qing Xu) and Sara’s (Emily Blunt) after Sara took the time to ease now Joe’s withdrawal, winning his affection. It is after this scene that old Joe is very protective of his picture of his dead / future wife, and it’s not seen on screen again, potentially, because it’s been changed.

In marketing the film, they glossed over, almost failed to mention the TK element in the film. This greatly reduced my (as a film goer) expectation of its importance. I was very happy to see this, as too many films (even TV shows) give away too much information in the trailers that make it impossible to not figure out the major plot points – the tendency to ‘show all the good parts’. They could’ve even cut a trailer showing the film as a sort of ‘reverse terminator’ – a looper sent back to the past to prevent the takeover of the mob by a blood thirsty, brutal maniac known simply as “The Rainmaker”. If I was to continue this list of ‘what they did right’ – this review would be even longer. I will switch gears to little things that could have been done better. Much was done to show that vehicles had been converted to run on solar power, and electricity in general BUT in several scenes as these trucks rumbled past, they rumbled with the sound of a combustion engine. Bruce Willis’ delay in getting into the time machine (to face his death) somehow caused a delay in his exiting – wouldn’t the time machine be set for a certain time and place? If bodies were so hard to get rid of in the future, how come Bruce Willis, a hit man again, in the future, wasn’t in jail? What was done with his wife’s body to prevent authorities looking for her? And for that matter, why risk sending live bodies back at all? Why not kill someone then zap them back in time to a volcano, to dispose of the body?

Most of these questions are minor at the least, and I’m sure they could be relatively explained in a satisfactory manner with a greater fleshing out of the world – which isn’t necessarily needed. All it boils down to is this: Rian Johnson’s directorial style seems like a blend of Martin Scorsese and Terry Gilliam. Great characters and great set pieces lead to a great escapist movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance (almost impersonation) of a young Bruce Willis, overcame the limits imposed on him by the prosthetics.

An interesting subtext to the movie is consequence, most time travel movies deal with that (Butterfly Effect), but one obvious question comes up – what is the difference between young Joe and old Joe that would make it reasonable to old Joe to kill a child. For young Joe, it’s repugnant. For old Joe, it does seem unpleasant but something that he feels he has no choice but to do. It comes to that old theoretical question, if you were able to go back in time, would you go back and kill Hitler as a child? Theoretically, you’d be killing an innocent, would his future crimes justify the killing of that child?

Everything else being said, the performance put in by Pierce Gagnon as Cid was lynchpin in pulling the story together. As a child actor, his ability to convey both innocence and menace is amazing, and I’ll not take from Rian Johnson’s ability as a director by saying so. This child, introduced so innocently midway through the second act of the film becomes the line in the sand and the impetus to all that happens. Watching him at such a young age you can see the life choices as they’ll become laid out for him, and the influences on his future decision process that the other characters (will) play.

This film is a win, it’s a good bet you’ll enjoy it if you’re a scifi fan, or a good story fan, even as a romance (Blunt’s performance as an ex addict dealing with guilt and an extraordinary burden is very good) it’s a win. I think anyone wanting quick answers and simplistic plot may (and that’s just may) be disappointed in this film – and I, as one, am glad films are still being made for people who enjoy being challenged.

 Yours,
Ash