“Bees are a piece of propaganda put forward by the media to sell honey by Big Honey.” The man with a mustache drawn on his face with Sharpie says. “It’s just a shame. They’re trying to keep us living in fear.”
This is Ian Abramson: eccentric, silly, offbeat, and legitimately unique. Whether he’s wearing a dog shock collar while trying out new material, vividly impersonating objects like umbrellas and matches, or hosting his innovative show 7 Minutes in Purgatory which forces comics to perform while unable to see or hear their crowd, he’s intensely committed to pushing the boundaries of stand-up in hilarious ways.
“I was thinking about how there’s a relationship between the audience and the performer… the audience is responding to you, they’re laughing or they’re not. But also you’re responding to the audience, so I wanted to play with that.” The LA-based stand-up comic reflects on the creation of 7 Minutes in Purgatory, which is now a Comedy Central show. “Everybody kind of handles it differently. There are people like Brent Weinbach, who goes in with a clear idea, knows what he wants to experiment with. Then someone like Rory Scovel just riffs. He kind of talks about the room, how he’s feeling, and jumps around.”
When asked why he takes so many risks in his comedy, Abramson remembers his early days studying at Second City. “Something that improv is great about is just taking a chance and not being afraid to fail. Just by virtue of taking a chance, it’ll be more interesting than if you didn’t. I try to remember that.”
“My influences are Steve Martin and Groucho Marx.” Abramson cuts to the meat of what inspired his current style of stand-up. “I really love the way that [Steve Martin] tried to find new ways to make people laugh. Groucho Marx is one of the all-time great comedians. He’s so clever. The way that he tells a joke is just so dedicated, so serious about silly subject matter. He gets to the gold, he can dance funny, he can sing funny, he does it all.”
As the contributor to The Onion prepares for his upcoming show at Comedy Bar this weekend, he has nothing but enthusiasm. “I’ve heard that Toronto has just an incredible comedy scene. I was just telling somebody how much I love Canada. I did Pemberton Music Fest, I was in Montreal the past two summers… every time I’ve been there it’s just been such a positive experience. Everybody is so just down for whatever you’re doing and is excited, friendly… it’s the best.”
A standout performer of the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal with a one-of-a-kind show, Abramson is not to be missed. Be sure to catch 7 Minutes in Purgatory on Sunday, January 29 at Comedy Bar.