Chris Redd experienced a breakout summer in 2016, first as a scene-stealer in the The Lonely Island’s movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, then as a New Face at Montreal’s Just For Laughs, and finally as an almost-hire at Saturday Night Live.
My bad on that almost part. (Understatement)
Except SNL did hire Redd as a featured player last summer, and for great reason. Redd is a dynamic performer, who not only can bust your gut as a comedian but also entertain you as a rapper. Think of stand-up that reminds you of Hannibal Burress and hip-hop that reminds you of Childish Gambino, but with much more energy. Yes, dynamic and entertaining as hell.
After his first season on SNL, Redd has enjoyed touring North America comedy clubs, and JFL wisely booked him for a couple of nights at the Montreal Improv (plus hosting duties for Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch of 2018).
Redd’s opening act on the road is fellow Chicagoan Kristen Toomey, who describes herself in her Twitter bio as “I look like Madonna; if she had never never left Michigan. Comedian. Mother. Fucker.” In person, she also looks and carries herself as if Amy Poehler had become a mother and gone wild first before starting comedy. Toomey has a raunchy sense of humor that suggests she doesn’t much care what her two kids (13 and 9) think of her talking this way to strangers, let alone in the house.
As for Redd, seeing him live outside of your TV on nights other than Saturday, you get to enjoy just how hysterically engaging he is onstage.
He’s so fast on his feet, not only literally but also metaphorically, whether working the crowd or integrating a weird unanticipated noise into his act. Example: Someone dropped a bottle or something onto the floor during his bit on Tinder, prompting him to quickly describe the dating app as just that, but in these terms: “Yeah, it sounds like a dick hitting the window.”
Redd’s stand-up set includes premises you’d love to see him explore on SNL, even if he’s not quite convinced some of them will fly in the Monday afternoon pitch meetings. He jokes about his crackhead uncle, hiking, Ratchet Jesus, Mormons, the differences in how racism expresses itself in different pockets of America, and how freestyle raps bring out surprising sides of our personalities.
He joked at one point after a bit where he leaves part of it undefined, “I could’ve Googled it before the show, but instead I smoked and prayed.”
Whatever Chris Redd is doing, it’s working. Big time.