Comedian Craig Fay Earns a Gold Star in His Latest Performance

Comedy Reviews Craig Fay
Comedian Craig Fay Earns a Gold Star in His Latest Performance

Canadian comedian Craig Fay’s persona is very much that of just “a dude”—in a fantastic way. He’s straight-talking and genial, but quick to point out that he’s not “fedora nice.” Like many comics these days, Fay has a podcast: The Villain Was Right, which won both Outstanding Debut and Outstanding Comedy at the Canadian Podcast Awards.

It’s about time Fay got some recognition on this side of the border, too. On his sophomore comedy album Performance Review, Fay has the same sort of cynicism and disgruntlement that marked his first record, Helicopter Rich, but his resentments are presented with such cheer and energy that it’s no wonder he’s annoyed people find his anger “calming.”

This hyped-up indignity tends to be the driving force of the album, which was recorded at Toronto’s Comedy Bar this last summer. Fay loves digging into the nitty gritty banalities of the world—office life, landlines, cleaning house—but does so with such fervor that his bits feel fresh. Some of his best material focuses on the unappealing prospect of returning to the office post-lockdown and what an unnatural environment it is. Fay sums it up perfectly when he says, “Offices have culture like the British have food.”

Where Fay really shines, though, is when he applies the idea of workplace woes to inanimate objects desperate to stay relevant during a Marie Kondo-inspired bout of cleaning. It’s by far his oddest bit, and his best, as he imagines a pair of scissors and scotch tape discussing layoffs (imagine a sad adult version of a Pixar movie). As usual, Fay focuses on the quotidian, but he brings the everyday to a weirder, goofier place than he would otherwise, which makes this joke stand out from the rest of the album. Hopefully Fay writes more bits like this one in the future, since it elevates his comedy from enjoyably funny to something more inventive and exciting.

On the other hand, there are some jokes that go on slightly too long considering the payoff at the end. The Toronto-based comedian’s diatribe against long distance phone calls comes right at the heels of a (better) bit about dialing 9 to get out of a phone system, and doesn’t quite earn how much time it takes up. Another point—which is more for a listener’s comfort than a direct criticism—is that the sound quality of Performance Review leaves something to be desired, so maybe just listen via your laptop speakers instead of on your fancy headphones.

Quibbles aside, Fay earns two holiday thumbs up on his Performance Review.

Performance Review is now streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you listen to comedy.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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