Returning for the first time since his popular run of shows in 2015, Gilbert Gottfried helped pack Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa with a raucous and eager-to-laugh crowd. As Thursday marked the first of his four nights in the nation’s capital, the Brooklyn comedian was greeted with deafening chants of “Gilbert! Gilbert!” long before the first comic hit the stage.
Opening the show was the evening’s host, Toronto comic Jeff Paul, who jumped upon the penetrating energy already present, bulldozing his way through a set that highlighted his self-deprecating humour. Up next was Ottawa’s Michael Lifshitz, who cleverly gave the engrossed crowd a bevy of twists regarding his customary jokes about his disability. Local comic Chris Borris followed up with a laidback (but well-written) delivery that unfortunately lost a portion of the room, while his compatriot Dave McConnell absolutely slayed the audience with his acerbic one-liners.
When Paul returned to the stage to introduce the evening’s headliner, the crowd leaped up to give Gottfried a rare standing ovation as the diminutive 62-year-old hobbled to the stage. Although looking frail and unassuming, Gottfried authoritatively greeted the crowd with his iconic voice, perhaps revealing the intention of many of those in the audience, “You came to see me, you saw me, now get out!”
As he segued into an absurd stream-of-conscious rant about losing his pet turtle behind the radiator before describing a scenario where little people would be jumping on top of a rusty crowbar jammed into his eye, Gilbert was met by much confusion and a bit of revulsion from the now-tempered crowd. But being the veteran comic that he is, Gottfried got the house roaring again when he delved into a bit about Canada and our insistence to cover perfectly tasty foods with maple syrup.
After a typically strange run of prop comedy bits, Gottfried closed his 45-minute set off with traditional setup and punch line jokes that often straddled the lines of politically correctness, expertly demonstrating just how easily he can find a laugh no matter what his mode of delivery may be. As Yuk Yuk’s helped him close out the show with a second standing ovation, Gottfried disappeared to the back of the club, ignoring the crowd’s wild chants for an encore and showing the audience that, when it comes to his uncompromising persona, Gilbert Gottfried will always brilliantly be Gilbert Gottfried.