Peter Berner – Chicken Shop Loyalty
Peter Berner @ The Comedy Cellar
7:45pm, Sat 5 Mar 2011
I’ve been a fan of Peter Berner since I first saw the long-since-axed BackBerner (with gorgeous co-host Louise Siversen); on the basis of that content, I always had him pegged as a smart, politically savvy comedian – right up my alley. Despite his many trips to this neck of the woods, I’d never managed to see him perform stand-up live before… but this year, the stars aligned, and I found myself in The Comedy Cellar on a Saturday night.
Of course, the Cellar was chock full of patrons who’d already partaken in the food component of their dinner-and-comedy deal, so a seat way down the back of the room was the best I could manage. And when Berner appears, he’s very amiable – positively friendly, in fact.
It’s not long before he delves into his central thread for the evening – consumerism, and what companies will do to retain your loyalty. There’s a few jokes at the expense of frequent-buyer cards, a dig at how various corporations try to paint themselves in a favorable light by touting “environmentally friendly” slogans, and a superficial look at advertising and marketing.
But there’s nothing fulfilling, nothing really deep about Berner’s set. In fact, it’s the offhand comments that gave me the most cheer – how he has climate-change malaise, or his plans to send senior citizens into outer space as a means to avoiding aging population concerns. And, unlike most comedians with young children, he speaks in a refreshingly dismissive manner of his son.
Far from being biting, Berner’s cynicism seems almost warm and friendly – cuddly, even. And whilst that may be great for an after-dinner crowd, I was kinda hoping for a bit more snarl. After all these years, I guess the BackBerner memories have maintained an image of the man that doesn’t reflect where he is today; that’s understandable, I guess, but disappointing nonetheless.