Lorne of Green Gables
by Sean McQuaid
Wide-ranging, that’s Lorne Elliott’s comedy in a nutshell. Delivered in a rambling, deceptively casual, seemingly stream-of-consciousness fashion, it hits listeners with a little bit of everything and leaves them laughing.
Local, regional and national humour, universal slice-of-life anecdotes, linguistic jokes, cultural observations, musical comedy and tons of sheer silliness – Elliott taps all these comedic wells and more over the course of his standup set, embellished by occasional guitar and ukulele numbers.
Much of it’s familiar to Island audiences, of course. Practically an honorary Islander, the Quebec-based playwright/musician/comedian has been bringing his one-man comedy show to various PEI venues for many years.
Familiar doesn’t mean stale, though. Patrons of his latest Guild run laughed painfully hard at vintage material like the tale of Elliott’s malfunctioning bungee-cord-socks, one of many bits showcasing his unique gift for painting hilarious slapstick word pictures.
The show features plenty of newer material as well, including more than a little improvisation: sometimes clumsy, sometimes witty, and often hilarious—like his seemingly endless closing night obsession with New Brunswick’s “Maritime Magnifique” tourism promotion.
Building on an early suggestion from the audience, Elliott came back to the nebulous “Magnifique” concept over and over again, culminating in his plans for a government-funded “Acadians in spandex” musical featuring a born-again Christian trucker. “It gave me the heebie-jeebies to hear JC on my CB,” sings Elliott, in character, at the height of this charmingly lunatic detour.
As the improv angle suggests, it’s an often interactive show. He solicits suggestions or feedback from the audience, leads various sing-along bits, and responds to whatever catches his eye or ear in the crowd. “This isn’t TV,” he reminds one vocal patron. “I can hear you, too.”
Audiences might be either relieved or disappointed to learn that the current show’s “Green Gables” title is something of a red (-headed) herring, as there’s little or no Anne content – but there is plenty of PEI comedy in the mix, ranging from merciless mockery of topical targets like Disco Cirque to delightfully warped meditations on the piping plover (among other things, Elliott doubts it really exists).
The entire two-hour set flies by, packed with literally too much stuff to recount in any one review, such as the comic’s often “near-fatal” forays into sports or his wild tales of squirrels and raccoons worthy of Chuck Jones cartoons. Articulate, clever and eternally playful, Elliott remains one of the finest and funniest fixtures of any Island summer.