Reviewed by Travis Facette
Space Jameration: A Stand-up Special
by Greg Houston
53 min / Comedy, Standup / PG
This standup/improv show by Greg Houston revolves, as promised, around the 90s classic Space Jam and Houston’s somewhat idiosyncratic fandom. The premise is cute and has potential, but the show itself is quite rough and disorganized. It starts out with some decent standup comedy (this isn’t Houston’s first time on stage), well-delivered with a comfortable, gently self-deprecating tone. But within about 15 minutes it went off the rails. Houston’s comedy began to meander, going off onto tangents that sometimes landed and sometimes fell flat, and then he brought on a special guest (which will change every night). This particular performance from Deborah Ring was a parody rap interlude in which she described at length how she doesn’t get any action because she’s a redhead. It was an uncomfortable and uninspired bit that went on too long, and it certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that there was a child in the front row for this mature-content show who was explicitly told to cover her ears (which seemed to throw off both performers).
After her performance, Ring joined Houston on stage for what appeared to be a completely unrehearsed, unplanned improv discussion that vaguely involved Space Jam. Their conversation stalled several times, Houston checked the time on his phone, and it soon devolved into just naming films and laughing nervously. At this point, I genuinely began to wonder if I was actually watching some kind of particularly subtle meta performance art.
The show continued with a bit more standup and some 90s music bits that got a few laughs, and then Houston transitioned into a bizarre and jarringly serious speech about the racism of the Canadian prison system. He himself acknowledged this to be a complete non-sequitur, before abruptly transitioning to another musical bit as his outro.
There are pieces of this show that have some promise, but overall it was a disjointed, uncomfortable experience that needs a lot more work.
Space Jameration: A Stand-up Special by Greg Houston is playing at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the full schedule and box office info. Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.