Dom Mackie’s Poor Life Choices (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival) mines a well-established comedy coalface. Mackie talks us through some of his most humiliating, vulnerable and revelatory experiences, and we cringe and laugh along with him. For such a young man, he’s got a wealth of stories, and he’s also got the performance instincts of someone who’s paid his dues dodging bottles at open-mic nights.
What I’m going to remember about Mackie is his energy, and the ease with which he works the room. The lottery saddled him with a cavernous venue, but he amps up his own energy to keep the audience on their toes and engaged in the set.
I thought the material was fine, but I wished he’d taken it deeper and further. A good example: one of his earliest bits turns upon a piece of advice which, if he explored it, could have sustained an hour-long show all by itself. Instead, it’s used to set up a dick joke, and then we move on.
I found myself hoping he’d pick up a throughline to thread his stories together, or fold them back in at the end: the overall framing device (poor life choices!) basically works, but it’s also older than vaudeville, and you can see a set with exactly that basis four nights a week at the Yuk-Yuk’s nearest you.
You won’t, however, see Mackie there: the material needs some workshopping (perhaps at a Fringe festival?), but the performance is where it needs to be, and if he shows up at Just For Laughs in a few years, you may very well regret not seeing him for $13 when you had the chance.
- Dom Mackie’s Poor Life Choices plays at the Robert Gill Theatre. (214 College St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content; audience participation; for adult audiences.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through usage of a painfully slow elevator. We recommend making sure you arrive a few minutes early.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Friday July 5th, 9:45 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 2:45 pm
- Sunday July 7th, 8:00 pm
- Monday July 8th, 10:00 pm
- Tuesday July 9th, 3:15 pm
Photographs of Dom Mackie by Nic Donovan.