Words by Nicole O'Rielley
"Are you ready for another white guy with a beard to tell you dick jokes?"
An ironic introduction to a comedic exploration of insecurities and the battle between self love and hate. In the true nature of insecurities, Evan Desmarais was selling himself short with this line. I mean, yeah, his dick joke game was rock hard, but I Like Me isn't an act crutching on crude gags and f-bombs. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Desmarais brings to the Adelaide Fringe a down-to-earth perspective on how he and we see ourselves with such likeable charm. Watching him perform is like hanging with the one friend that everyone inevitably has— the one that makes you say: 'you should do stand-up, man, you're a bloody comedian'.
Fellow Canadian, Joshua Elijah hit the mic first— an appetizer to warm up the tummy muscles of punters seeking a good chuckle. However, the energy in the room was quite stale. All praise to him, the first push to build momentum is always the hardest, but the ten minute support slot slightly undershot the desired effect of hyping the crowd for the main event. The content was there, yet the scattered laughs throughout the tent said that the execution wasn't as strong, and at times his trailing sentences swamped the humor of his stories.
The professionalism of Evan Desmarais leaves no doubt as to why he tours his stand-up around the globe. His presence alone flushed a more receptive and comfortable atmosphere through the tent. His natural command of the stage magnatised your full attention. The dynamics he brought to I Like Me were wonderful. With his words he could scoop us up and rev the crowd into a fit of cackles and boisterous energy with people yelling things out, which he whole-heartedly embraced creating a true connection with his audience. The most magical part was that with his next line he could blanket the room with a beautiful and reflective hush.
I Like Me perfectly combined witty humour with naked vulnerability, but most of all the content is easy to relate to. On more than one occasion, "oh god, that's so true," sprung from someone in the room. There was also something remarkably comforting about watching someone explicitly point out their flaws, or as Desmarais put it, "break apart on stage," rather than try to disguise them (you know you're guilty). It was like a self-love workshop, except instead of being run by some skinny Yogi it was a heck of a good-time Canadian in a backwards cap ripping off his t-shirt and asking you if you want to talk to the weird patch of hair growing out of his rib cage. And like every good teacher, Desmarais left a great piece of advice: that confidence isn't appearance or an abrasiveness that steamrolls everyone else, it's a deep-felt emotional state that you keep in your soul next to anxiety and sadness... "you gotta paint with all the brushes, otherwise you're just a c**t."
Evan Desmarais has a string of shows running at Gluttony in the Piglet tent.
Tickets and more deets here.