barry kennedy headlining at Comedywood Downtown (195 Bloor West) through November 17, Thursday 8 pm, Friday-Saturday 8:30 and 10:45 pm. $8-$15. 416-966-9663. Rating: NN
barry kennedy might very well be your father's favourite comedian.The Winnipeg-born stand-up specializes in innocuous Lions Club humour -- gentle bits about non-smokers, vegetarians and Alzheimer's.
Not exactly edgy stuff.
Which is harmless enough, except he's currently headlining at Comedywood Downtown, home to a pretty boisterous Annex university crowd that isn't used to prostate jokes.
Kennedy's strength is his delivery -- as smooth and reliable as aged whisky. He's got an Irish storyteller's charm, and his gritty voice and poetic flair add authenticity to his shtick.
A few bits stand out. His fear of becoming a father too late and being beaten up by a nine-year-old son reeks of good old Oedipal paranoia. His jokes about the homeless and an extended bit about kids' books set in various Canadian regions provide solid, smart social satire.
What's missing is heart, passion and a personal stake in his material.
Once a long-time Cabbagetown dweller, Kennedy now lives in southern California. His face is so sun-baked and lined, he could pass for Clint Eastwood's slightly younger brother.
His attitude, too, is pure California -- laid-back and calm. That's the problem. He's so low-key, you tune him out.
For a comic -- for any performer -- that's deadly.