Like AC/DC, whose music accompanied him as he stepped onto the stage, comedian Shaun Majumder is perhaps becoming better known for his greatest hits than his new material.
Majumder kicked off his “This Hour Has 22 Cities... The Road to Majumder Manor” tour with a sold-out show at Holy Heart Theatre in St. John's Thursday night.
Majumder’s filming a 12-part, nationally broadcast documetary series on the W network called “Majumder Manor,” detailing the construction of a five-room boutique eco-luxe bed and breakfast he’s building in his hometown of Burlington, near Baie Verte. Majumder says on his website the hope is to “draw adventurous travellers to my hometown so that they can experience what I have been bragging about for years; that rural Newfoundland is one of the most amazing places on Earth.”
Majumder’s cause makes it even harder to say anything remotely negative about his show without feeling like a big jerk. He’s likeable, hilarious and has brilliant comedic timing, but Thursday night’s show was a smidge too long for stand-up comedy, no matter who’s doing it — starting at 8 p.m. and ending just before 11 p.m., with a short opening routine by comedian Nigel Lawrence and a 15-minute intermission. It included more old material than it needed.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the old stuff — Majumder had the audience rolling in their seats, whether it was to his jokes about being tormented as a mixed-race younster growing up in Burlington, his asthmatic Fort MacMurray buffalo, or his “I knows you don’t love it, aye” catch phrase — but with a wit that sharp, he could have held the show on its own without so many of previously-seen-on-TV hits.
One of the best parts of the show was his interaction with the audience, which went even deeper than most stand-ups usually attempt, and the audience loved it, even those who were singled out and made examples of. Once he discovered a 13-year-old boy in the front row after delivering a particularly raunchy bit, Majumder apologized and made friends with the teen, telling him, “You're going to learn a lot here, tonight,” calling him “Pubes” and speaking to him directly throughout the rest of the show.
In true Majumder style, the comedian’s jokes centred on race for most of the second half of the show.
“Are there any black people here tonight? What, not one? What, did someone send out an e-mail or something?” Majumder asked, while the audience roared. “Oh look, there’s one little Asian guy!”
“I'm a Chewfie,” the man in question answered, referencing one of Majumder’s best-known routines, in which he calls himself a “Poofie:” half Newfie, half Pakistani.
Majumder’s material ranged from the royal wedding and upcoming election to hockey, iPhones and elementary school Christmas pageants. He made a lot of endearing jokes about rural Newfoundland, Burlington in particular, and switched from his regular voice to an exaggerated but totally believeable Newfoundland accent without effort.
“When I brought my fiancee Shelby home once, she was like, “What the f**k? Did you just have a stroke?’” he said, talking about the accent.
Majumder was also easily able to improvise jokes, based on feedback from the audience, which included the musicians of Hey Rosetta!, Allan Hawco and other members of the production team of CBC’s “Republic of Doyle,” fellow comedian Mark Critch, and Majumder’s father, who sat near the front and laughed as hard as everyone else. Majumder was awarded with a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of the show.
From here, Majumder’s on to Glace Bay, N.S., tomorrow night. He’ll wrap up the 22 Cities tour in Edmonton May 31.