There were many laughs to be had last Friday at Theatre Sainte Catherine’s which held (possibly one of Montreal’s first) anonymous comedy shows ever! When one hears the word “comedy” the mind usually gravitates toward a mental image of a comedian on stage, sharing their best material with eager ears. With that in mind, I’ll bet all the tea in china that you have never attended a live comedy show where everyone was wearing masks.Somewhat comparable to the idea of comedy meeting masquerade, this unique idea for a comedy show was inspired by the anonymous hacker movement, and the masks the audience/comics wore were from the 2005 hit flick “V for Vendetta”
I’ve attended a fair amount of comedy shows and written reviews on them in the past, but there hasn’t been a time where I have come across a promo add or gotten an invitation to a comedy show with the theme of anonymity. You can imagine my thrill when I stumbled across this little gem. I fell in love with the idea of going incognito for the night!
As for what the show entailed, the name spoke for itself. It’s an excellent concept, as it adds an element of mystery and removes the social constraints that society puts in place, allowing people to release their inhibitions and be themselves. Society puts an insane amount of pressure on unrealistic expectations to fit into a specific mold, and I think it’s nice to have a break from all of that.
Comedians are notorious for their crude sense of humor, and I think at times people hold back from laughing in fear of being dubbed — for example, a “racist” for laughing at a joke that compares world-wide racial stereotypes. With everyone in the room wearing identical masks, (including the comics) suddenly a sense of equality prevails. Your other senses are heightened whether you realize it consciously or not, simply due to the fact that you no longer have access to observing the performers facial expressions, let alone anyone who is presently in the audience. You have to rely on reading the performers body language and you focus more intently on their voice fluctuations and expressions. You see the mask, and you become the mask. This concept makes for a successful show because there are absolutely zero limits to the amount of crazy things that you can say. What you may regularly hold back in public is no longer applied in this scenario because taking ownership or responsibility for what comes out of your mouth is irrelevant. Now you’re the man behind the mask!
I must say too, that there isn’t show that I have been to that had more laughter from the audience than there was that night inside Theatre Sainte-Catherine. The audience would explode into a cacophony of joy that in turn resulted in more laughter, not because of the punchline or anything, but more so because of the amusement of hearing the sound of other people within the crowd. Every individual stand-up comic was fantastic! There was an electrifying energy buzzing that night, which the comics largely contributed to, and the headliner that night was one of the better ones that I have had the pleasure of viewing.
My experience at this show is one that will never be forgotten. I sincerely hope that we continue to see more shows like this in Montreal, because I believe everyone should have an experience like this at least once. Whoever originally came up with the idea for the show deserves a huge pat on the back. What a fantastic time!