After 18 Years, Canada's Youngest Stand-Up Veteran Releases His Debut Special
At the still-tender age of 32, London, Ontario's Jeff Leeson (JFL42, MTV, SiriusXM) is ringing in nearly two decades (!) as a professional stand-up with Off The Cuff, his intensely riveting comedy special debut. (Available January 26 on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Spotify, and JeffLeesonComedy.com). Leeson is one of the world's only comics whose act relies solely on audience interaction (a.k.a. 'crowd work'), and he's got a decidedly unique spin on it: his signature end-of-show wrap-up summarizes every conversation that took place throughout the night, brilliantly interlocking each one into a hilarious narrative. It's a tour-de-force performance unlike anything typically seen on a Comedy Club stage.
Instead of playing it safe for the 48-minute special, Leeson dramatically upped the ante by performing for a rough n' tumble beer-fueled audience at The Station Music Hall in Sarnia Ontario. "I wanted to bypass a theatre setting for a more raw feel, and I love the honesty of a small town crowd," Leeson notes, "I chose Sarnia because the crowds there have always been so amazing, with just the right amount of rowdy." Leeson also worked without a financial safety net for Off The Cuff, choosing to direct, produce, and promote the comedy special himself.
Despite his mesmerizing performance, the young comic has yet to become a household name, having been obliged to bypass the country's largest comedy chain for years. "When I was 18, the club's owner called me and said, 'You'll never be a success in this business and you should probably do something else,'" Leeson explains with a knowing grin. "Which is probably why a portion of this performance has me talking about never giving up on your dreams."
Although Off The Cuff gets decidedly edgy, Leeson avoids the low-hanging comedic fruit, steering clear of mean jabs at audience members' appearance or stature. But rest assured, behind that laid back demeanour and boyish grin is a steel-trap comedy mind developed from years of honing the craft nationwide. "I began performing stand-up at age 14, so for the first few years my mom had to drive me to every show," he explains. "And since that time, I've been dedicated to delivering the best and most unique show possible each night. I'm really hoping that comes across with Off The Cuff.