Published Jul 23, 2019Robby Hoffman is not afraid to "go there," she told her ex-girlfriend on stage in a packed room at the Montreal Improv Theatre during the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. And by "there," she means into her very odd past, when she worked for a loan shark company, pre-comedy, and regularly took "platonic baths" with her wealthy male friends.
Set up as a talk show with Hoffman as host, The Early Evening Show with Robby Hoffman is the comedian's radical reaction to "late night wars," as she calls the fight for the 11:35 p.m. television timeslot. "Who needs it?" Hoffman declared to her audience. "Who wants to be up that early?"
Instead, her talk show took place at a reasonable 7 p.m., with special guests that included her sister, her ex-girlfriend and Ryan Abrams, the only man she's ever had sex with (on a total of three occasions, seven thrusts in all). Hoffman and each guest took turns hitting each other with hilarious, cringe-worthy tales from her teens and early 20s, when she lived in Montreal, gave out bloody handjobs on the regular, and, according to her ex, habitually stored her joke notebook in the oven every time she left the house.
Hoffman and each of her guests displayed a unique rapport that kept her show from venturing into kitsch territory quickly. While many comedians try (and fail) to do interactive shows —involving weird giveaways and bringing audience members on stage — in lieu of traditional standup sets at festivals like JFL, it's easy to miss the mark going this route, and many shows like this can feel awkward or like they're trying too hard. But Hoffman's quick, self-assured wit and her comfort with both her guests and her audience kept the show, despite its risky format, dynamic and genuinely funny.
As a standup, Hoffman has countless odd tales from her unique adolescence growing up with nine siblings, experimenting with her sexuality before coming out —and while the stories themselves are undoubtedly funny, it's her sharp delivery and ability to work the crowd that sets her apart as a comic. During the Early Evening Show, the audience got a full hour of pure, unscripted Hoffman wit. She has something to say about everyone and everything, and biting remarks roll off her tongue with unwavering confidence. Robby Hoffman knows who she is, what she's good at, and her no-fucks attitude kept the room in stitches all night.