Published Jul 24, 2019Kurt Braunohler aspires to be a good dad. He's a pretty new dad — his daughter is now five — and how could you not dedicate material to parenting when you are one? It takes over your life. But that can also be dangerous territory — can you really stand out with jokes about having kids? That's the trick, and Braunhohler executed it all perfectly.
While this next point is not helpful (apologies Kurt), it is always demonstrable of a great comedian. Tuesdays can be hard and it's not a full room. Not bad, but light. And he kills it. He gets everyone on board right away by "warming up for himself." That's the benefit of a receptive, albeit light, crowd. You can try that brand new stuff. He gives us some obligatory high-energy Montreal observations, and it (mostly) flies.
To say his show's core is being a dad, is not accurate — you see quickly it's about family all around. We learn about his dad, who has children ranged from 57 years to 14 (twin girls). More than one marriage, obviously. That makes for a complicated relationship, summed up by the fact his father believes him to be in a CarMax commercial (that's Andy Daly).
There are other parenting scars to address, being a child of the '80s. He started air travelling at the age of 5, unaccompanied. At this point, he was still breast feeding. Five years after that, he was smoking cigarettes. And his mother, a paediatric nurse, would take him to hospital when she worked on weekends (unsanitary adventures abound). There's a genuine heartfelt touch when he speaks of his mother, who has since passed. And there's a great story about getting to see some favourite bands while he went home to care for her. It involves Dinosaur Jr. and Mike Watt, and the modern blasphemy of filming with phones at rock shows.
As a takeaway, there are some structural elements that made this show great. First — storytelling. There's a definite art to getting periodic laughs in a minutes-long story. Braunohler does this immaculately, with just the right amount of break, and a sing-song delivery. And he can drop another story, within the story, for deeper context.
On top of that, he is measured. Nothing feels overdone. For example, he addresses the Republican elephant in the room just the right amount. And in telling stories about his mother, or his daughter, he avoids schmaltz. There's emotional pull, which makes this feel a little better than a comedy show.