Towards the end of the set, he promises the audience that it gets better: it’s always kind of frantic and weird towards the start of the run, and if we come back later on, it’ll be more settled, more mellowed… essentially, better. I’m not so sure.
Let’s get a few things straight: it’s not that Burtscher isn’t funny. Many of his jokes are hilarious, and he has a unique gift for working a room. The problem, in my opinion, is that he desperately, desperately needs a director. Far too many of the gags, while funny, are drawn out for twice as long as they ought to be, while some of his best bits are cut off and abandoned before all the humor has been squeezed out of them: we want him to linger a little, say a little more, but instead he’s launching into the next one.
In between these bits, he picks on the audience. He does this affectionately, and it never becomes mean or cutting, but at times it feels to me like a ploy to fill time and have the audience write jokes for him. (Several of the funniest lines in the show came from audience members.)
But, I mean… maybe that’s the point. Burtscher clearly wants us all to have a fantastic time, and views the process as a collaborative one. He had a tiny little audience at the show I saw, most of us were pretty silent, and he simply wasn’t getting a whole lot out of us. Maybe the show runs better when he’s got a more active and vigorous crowd.
Last summer, when he invited us to visit his Waffle House, Burtscher was often criticized for not having much of a show. That’s gotten better: there’s more meat on these bones, and there’s more structure to it as well. But in my opinion there are still too many gaps, too many drawn-out gags, and too many jumps at pity laughs (Just laugh at the nice man so he moves onto the next joke! Just do it! We’ll be here all night if you don’t!) to really be a satisfying performance, despite the fact that–and I’ll say this again and again–Pat Burtscher himself is a very, very funny man.
- Pat Burtscher’s Patopotamoose plays at the Solo Room, located at the Tarragon Theatre, 30 Bridgman Ave.
- Show times:July 06 06:30 PM; July 07 03:15 PM; July 08 06:15 PM; July 09 04:00 PM; July 11 10:00 PM; July 13 07:00 PM; July 14 06:15 PM; July 15 12:30 PM.
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.
Photograph of Pat Burtscher provided by the company.