Like a feminist TED talk with dick jokes
A hot and humid Vogue Theatre welcomed Iliza last Friday night (February 17) with waves of spirit animal level adulation. The smell of cheap beer and club beats set the tone as the American comic, known for three Netflix specials and being the youngest winner of Last Comic Standing, hit the stage to a crowd of mostly 30 somethings decked in leather and plaid during the first days of the JFL Northwest comedy festival.
Opener Ivan Decker, a good old Vancouver boy, got the comedy ball bouncing with a charming and inoffensive set riddled with local humour. The best way to describe it would be, “Canadian Clark Kent is mildly annoyed by everyday occurrences”, with jokes focusing on snow, sales, and eating in the dark.
Decker’s witty observational humour swept several applause breaks into a hot transition to our headliner. His set was a deft, expertly crafted fifteen minutes that reeked of a “job done well” – a trait that will book him gigs but doesn’t cast him in the most memorable light.
Iliza took the stage to hoots, hollers, and a raised glass of red wine. The comic complimented the audience on being a “cleaner, happier Seattle” before launching into her best-known bit – party goblin. Like 80s kids singing along at an Our Lady Peace concert, the crowd joyfully shouted her punchlines alongside the comic’s theatrical delivery. There’s a joy to familiarity and Iliza dove into it with a wry self-awareness that kept the old material fresh in spite of the singalong.
Crowd work led to references of Tiger Beat magazine, finger guns, and a “what type of hungover are you” quiz which fed into a warm-up about the female vs. male experience in dating and getting ready. But Iliza built this show with a sub-basement and it was filled with heavy issues disguised in college humour masks. A pointed statement on rape culture was a throwaway line in a bit about lip gloss. A thinly veiled jab at female self-sabotage was covered by a Vegas vacation story. Like a feminist TED talk with slick dick jokes, Iliza deftly confronted issues of body dismorphia, social media addiction, and sexual assault without alienating any of the gleeful audience.
Iliza‘s gift is a dry wit, a biting intelligence, and a casual familiarity that allows her to connect to a broad audience. She laces her humour with a pointed tip that forces the audience she’s chosen to whoop and holler at real issues. She’s the female Louis C.K. with a ten-year head start at the top. “Don’t demand respect, command respect,” she said in closing. And her stint at the JFL NorthWest festival showed her doing just that.