Merv Hartlen’s comedy career began only a few years ago and has sprouted into a full-time gig touring festivals and gaining a fan-base. Hartlen wrote a one-man show that he performed at The Atlantic Fringe Festival and was featured on the cover of Halifax’s arts magazine The COAST.
Merv was slated to perform after Idgy Dean, who set the bar at impressive heights with her intricate looping and catchy tunes. Hartlen then came to the stage in the form of a “Hype Guy” looking to get the crowd pumped for Merv, who was feeling a little nervous and confused being asked to perform in between a “one-woman psychedelic rock band” and a hip-hop set.
The “Hype Guy” did his best to get the crowd going, but they seemed to be there for the music, not the comedy. Hartlen is used to it though, he admitted that last week he performed a Groupon set for a bunch of “people who hate comedy, but love a good deal”. After a few shots and a few too many references to Zenni Optical dot com, the “Hype Guy” took off his women’s cardigan (his words, not mine) and admitted that it was him all along. And thus began his one-hour set.
Merv’s comedy set in three words: parents, weed and women
Hartlen said his comedy set could best be described in three words: parents, weed and women. There were a few other jokes in there. Most memorable parts of the show were about the differences between Halifax and Montreal, which I enjoyed a lot and about being mistaken for a teenage boy, or a 40-year-old lesbian, which apparently happens pretty often to Merv.
He shared his experience as a 28-year-old man at Canada Wonderland’s Water Park and talked about the fact that his mom still buys jeans for him. The show focused on Merv still being a child, playing adulthood and coming up short.
Essentially, I think Merv Hartlen might have a really good 15-minute set, but it got buried in the 60 minutes he was given, and lost in the crowd of young scenesters looking to dance, or in this case probably sway awkwardly to music.
He handled the crowd like a pro, called them out when they were being rude but also got them involved. He freely admits that his comedy career is crazy, but what the hell Merv, go for it. Props for your courage, and I hope you get a bunch of sold-out shows and get your dick sucked, spiritually.
Mev Hartlen comedy show, Pop Montreal, took place on Saturday, September 18 at the Cabaret Playhouse (5656 Avenue du Parc).