By Graeme Wiggins
Sometimes stand-up comedy can seem a little formulaic. A person gets up on stage: setup, punchline, repeat. Ron Lynch has been doing comedy for a long time (though he’s probably even more famous for his appearances on Bob’s Burgers, and The Sarah Silverman Program) and has defied that convention from the beginning. His comedy is almost a throwback to a different era, though which era is a little ill-defined. There are nods to magic, ventriloquism, and an oddball sense of slapstick about it.
Lynch describes it thusly: “It’s probably as far away from stand-up as you can get without being called stand-up, I guess. I do characters, I do the Magician, a hypnotist guy, I do some stand up. It’s a little crazier than your normal jokey-joke-type stand-up. I probably have no setup-and-punchline-type jokes in my act. A lot of it is physical stuff. I don’t talk to the crowd that much but I work off the crowd.”
The idea seems to harken back to the theatricality of old vaudeville acts, which featured comedians and other performers. Lynch would agree. “It is a little vaudevillian, yeah. I wouldn’t call it modern vaudeville or something like that but it’s based in my love of vaudeville and taking that kind of humour and modernizing it. It’s pretty clean. I’m not saying I don’t swear ever or anything like that, but it’s basically clean.”
It didn’t start out so off-the-beaten-path. While his sense of humour and some of the sensibility was there early on, the early life of a struggling comic brought the harsh reality of typical crowds into the mix, which toned down the absurdity level. “I would say it’s always been absurd, but when I left Boston and went solo, I would go on the road a lot. And when you go to a bar in the middle of nowhere you can’t be too crazy because people don’t get it. I did more jokes about airplane food and stuff when I was on the road because I thought you had to please the audience.” Even then, sometimes mainstream crowds forced unthinkable choices: “There was one point, in a really bad gig in Oregon and luckily I brought on stage, just for a joke with the other comic, the Playboy Book of Party Jokes and just put that on the stool, joking that I’d never have to get to that. But eventually I just pulled it out and started reading jokes out of it and they loved it. So apparently this is what you want, and I’m getting paid either way.”
This took a toll, and eventually he moved forward, and has developed his own audience. “I started working the road so much that I didn’t like what was happening to my act so I pretty much stayed in cities after that. Though I did tour and do other stuff. Now I do what I want to do. I think people come to me, and like what I do so I’m pretty happy with it.”
What should his audience expect from his Vancouver show? “I’m going to have to do my entire act in French, right? Maybe we’ll have a guy on the side of the stage repeating it in French. I’m doing my act without any mention of our president at all. That’s what’s hard about it.”
Ron Lynch performs live April 5 at the Fox Cabaret.Fox Cabaret, ron lynch