Danny Bhoy’s 90-minute stand-up comedy special Dear Epson is a brilliant blend of social commentary and classic British cynicism. A comedy veteran who has spent the majority of his career touring the world, Bhoy returns to Canada after a successful cross-country tour in 2013. With Dear Epson, Bhoy has come back with arguably his most polished act yet. The show is proof that hilarious comedy can still have multiple layers of social significance.
Like all good observational comedians, Bhoy moulds his narrative into a discourse that will not only make you laugh, but also persuade you to see the irrationality of the world through his eyes. He blends typical observational humour with sarcasm to bring a performance that is both hilarious and poignant. Bhoy’s great story-telling skills, likeability and repeated aptitude in using call backs — the comedic practice of referencing a joke from earlier in your set — are testaments to his skills as a comedian. His ability to handle hecklers (of which there were unfortunately many) illustrated his mastery of his craft. His popularity with the crowd was felt right from the moment he stepped on stage. His informal appearance and relaxed attitude made the Scot immediately likeable. His ability to pander to the Calgarian audience, through references to the Calgary Flames, weather and our notoriously high orange juice prices were also ways he was able to gain the audience’s trust.
Dear Epson is not your typical stand-up show. Throughout the 90 minutes, Bhoy uses a series of complaint letters he has written to people from his past to illustrate the absurdity of many social situations. The majority of the letters are addressed to various companies from whom Bhoy has purchased products. The letters centre on the contemporary marketing practices of these companies. Epson Printers, Gillette, Olay and British Airways are the corporate targets of Bhoy’s frustrations, but he also includes a letter to his junior high school woodworking teacher and a few other individuals from his past.
Interestingly, Dear Epson does not have an opening act. Bhoy is introduced immediately and after a few minutes of warming up the crowd with some typical front-row banter, gets right into the heart of his material. His first letter to Epson Printers (hence the name of the show) was arguably the funniest and seemed the most polished section of the performance. While the show does not exactly pick up steam from the strong introduction, it definitely does not falter. Bhoy keeps the crowd laughing with his next round of letters and jokes. The show is sprinkled with Bhoy’s perspectives on life, love and history. His musings on such topics as European currency, puzzling inventions and the history of the candle help supplement the show with strong material.
The final letter, addressed to Bhoy’s 13-year-old self, provides a touching yet still entertaining conclusion. Using aspects from the other letters, Bhoy brings everything from the show together and gives it a well rounded sense of closure. As I expected, the crowd showed their appreciation by giving Bhoy a well deserved standing ovation.