Hollett’s show remains true to the title — he effortlessly weaves tales that are routinely, and often unexpectedly, grounded in his origin as a Newfie (or more broadly, as an East coaster), and as a person with asthma.
Overall, I had fun watching this show. I enjoyed plenty of hearty, genuine laughs, and was drawn to Hollett’s presence and physicality as soon as he took the stage. His well-crafted jokes were bolstered by smart use of both imagery and physical comedy.
Hollett made ample use of self-deprecating humour in his scripted routine alongside his engagement with the audience. We were certainly not the audience he’s used to, and he directly addressed this a few times. Some of his jokes did not land, but he took the opportunity to poke fun at our sensibilities as a Toronto theatre-going audience. He alternated between making fun of us and himself in these moments, which almost always helped to break tension.
A handful of jokes made me feel a bit disengaged from the show. Right off the bat, Hollett dove into the familiar routine of “you can’t say anything these days” and “people are too easily offended”. While I agree with some of his observations on toxic call out culture, it’s hard for me not to roll my eyes when I hear a premise that I find a bit old, as well as the argument that comedy is a space where anything goes (as Hollett insists).
Furthermore, many of his critical observations on “people” or “society” ultimately turned to familiar criticisms of women. The one that stands out is a closing joke in which he implores women to simply tell men when they are not romantically interested in them. This joke made me uncomfortable – Hollett insists that men just don’t talk to women once they are clearly turned down. He either forgets, or doesn’t know, that many women don’t give a clear no because evading rejection is often a defense mechanism against many men’s inability to accept it.
Despite the premises that made me feel disengaged, the delivery and construction of most of Hollett’s jokes were enjoyable and clever enough to redeem the ones that didn’t sit well with me. From Newfoundland to Asthma is a fun, self-deprecating stand up show and an interesting study in the culture clash between Toronto and the East coast.
- From Newfoundland With Asthma plays at the St. Vladimir Institute. (620 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Unsuitable for minors.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. After the building’s business hours, a staff member will need to escort you through this route, so plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for evening shows.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Thursday July 5th, 8:15 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 3:30 pm
- Sunday July 8th, 5:15 pm
- Tuesday July 10th, 10:15 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 1:45 pm
- Friday July 13th, 12:00 pm
- Sunday July 15th, 8:30 pm
Photo of Colin Hollett provided by the company.