Heidi Brander Big Shiny Jokes
Published Aug 05, 2016"My name is Heidi Brander and I'm originally from Prince Edward Island," she begins her new album, Big Shiny Jokes. "Which is why I look like if Anne of Green Gables lived hard."
It is that deceptively simple setup and knockout that effectively establishes the tone for Brander's funny, thoughtful debut. She has surprisingly fresh takes on well-trod subjects like drugs (not a fan because "they made Chandler fat"), discrimination (racism, sexism and homophobia are "the rock, paper, scissors of prejudice" insofar as they cancel each other out), and feminism ("Watch out, Amy Schumer" she warns, sarcastically, before a cavalcade of one-liners about her period).
This is not to suggest that you've seen her material before. A longtime fixture on the Toronto comedy scene, Brander is at the top of her game here, relishing her turn at the mic to discuss vetting the dick pics of her gay friends, or buying a dog bed for a baby. But the polish of her set (nearly every joke lands) doesn't have her on autopilot either. Brander strikes the truly conversational tone with her audience that comics consistently emulate but few achieve with such apparent ease. By her closer, her audience is nearly laughing before they are meant to, such is the goodwill she has engendered so quickly.
As it connotes tired notions of "shocking" or "edgy," to call a comic "sex-positive" could be seen as damning with faint praise, but Big Shiny Jokes is sex-positive in the truest sense. Brander's riffs on masturbation, sex and sexuality are notable for ground they don't cover. She does not cast herself as the slut or the moron. It shouldn't be exceptional that a female comic is discussing sex onstage without equivocating or apologizing, but until we can name ten others that can do the same, we should keep mentioning it.
In her first album, Heidi Brander has the confident delivery of a road-tested veteran, but the unique perspective of a fresh voice. Let's hope the hard living doesn't catch up with her, because Big Shiny Jokes proves she's just getting started. (Independent)