With measured tempo reminiscent of Dick Gregory and Richard Pryor’s honesty, Ali Siddiq weaves a narrative on stage with both humour and humility. It is hard to imagine that this is the same person who started out as a teenage gangster and went to prison for selling drugs at the ripe old age of 19. In fact, prison is where he discovered his comedic talents. Having served six years of a 15-year felony sentence, Ali Siddiq came out clearly determined not to come back and to make comedy his career.

Now 43, he has done well for himself. And it’s not hard to see why. At this year’s festival, by his own admission, he has come equipped with three different one-hour sets in addition to the various appearances he would be doing and Ari Shaffir’s storytelling show at MainLine Theatre on Tuesday night, July 25 at midnight. After a successful run at Theatre Ste-Catherine, he is now at Montreal Improv Theatre with a different set. In Siddiq’s own words, it is just not interesting for him to keep doing the same set over and over again every day for a week and a half. Consummate entertainer, Saddiq can easily switch between complaining about airline service, telling stories about life in prison, and interacting with the audience all the while without a hint of bitterness or anger at the universe or even a swear.

Truth is Siddiq does have much to be hopeful about. With an abundance of material ready to go and a knack for crowd work, you won’t walk away wound up about election results or an unjust society. Instead, you will leave the way Ali Siddiq walked in: calm, at peace, and full of light. You will also leave thoroughly entertained and slightly hurting from the laughter because there are still good people in this world. And Ali Siddiq is one of them.

You can catch his current show at the Montreal Improv Theatre (map: 3713 St Laurent Blvd #202, Montreal, QC, H2X 2V7) July 25-28 at 7:30 pm. Tickets available at zoofest.com.

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