Fringe Review: “Scientist Turned Comedian” an hour of stand-up with a scientific flair


(Image courtesy of Tim X Lee)
(Image courtesy of Tim X Lee)

Performer Tim Lee travels from San Francisco to bring his stand-up hour to the Montreal Fringe this year with the cerebral comedy “Scientist Turned Comedian”. His style of comedy is tied to the fact that he holds a PhD in Ecology and Evolution, and he uses scientific theorems and facts to observe human behaviour and present it to his audience with the use of a PowerPoint presentation.

I can’t be sure whether it was due to the late time slot of this the performance I attended, from the comedian being distracted by the excess of noise coming from the bar upstairs, or because he had a hard time connecting with this crowd, but the show seemed to fall flat for me and the rest of the audience. That is not to say there weren’t any funny jokes, but things just didn’t seem to click on this night. From the moment the performance began Lee seemed a little rattled by the size of the crowd, commenting on it at least two or three times at the beginning and then several more times throughout the show. This didn’t really seem to engage the audience or really garner any kind of response.

He reached out and tried to talk to two young women in the front row and his interaction with them was quite charming and was the highlight of the show for me.  Otherwise his jokes that were related to the PowerPoint reminded me of jokes my father or uncle would tell at a large family dinner.

Throughout the act there were also moments where he would make jokes about women that I recognized as being from a form of humour that was popular in the past. They were observations that, to me (and seemingly to the audience as well), lacked some creativity in dealing with relations between the sexes. Whether it be talking about dating or adding images of women in flirtatious positions in his PowerPoint, these jokes felt out of place at the Montreal Fringe, a festival that encourages conversations about gender roles and an important amount of self-awareness and sensitivity when dealing with these topics. (I suspect that there will be those who disagree with me, but I don’t think any of these jokes were meant to be delivered in a negative way. Perhaps if some originality was brought to them, they might have been more interesting and allowed for Lee to better connect with certain audiences.)

I can’t recommend this show to everyone for the reasons stated above but I do think that there is a segment of fringegoers that might enjoy it. If you enjoy comedy from the eighties and nineties then this just might be the show for you. It is not for an audience that may be sensitive to sexual politics and may be offended easily by more traditional standup routines.  I can’t say I would personally go see this show, but I hope that Lee has more success in his other Fringe performances and continues to improve as a comedian.

Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Alex Gauthier

Tim X Lee presents “Scientist Turned Comedian”

When: June 9 – 18, 2017
Where: Petit Campus, 57 Prince-Arthur E
Admission: $9
Duration: 55 minutes
Tickets: | 514.849.FEST (3378)

Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

Check out our other 70+ reviews from this year’s Fringe!

Alex Gauthier

2017 Fringe Reviewer at Montreal Theatre Hub
Alex Gauthier is an improvisor at Montreal improv Theatre. He can also be found helping behind the scenes of local and community productions. Having completed his Bachelor’s in English Literature, he hopes to be able to enjoy local theatre and help whenever he is needed.