The Buttoned Down Mind Strikes Back...In Toronto!


I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Bob Newhart live last night at the CNE bandshell. What a rare treat...sitting in the open air on a beautiful night, breeze blowing, fireflies buzzing, surrounded by friends and family, experiencing one of the greats of comedy (for free, no less).

I grew up watching Newhart in the 80's and later discovered The Bob Newhart Show in reruns. When I first started dipping my toes into the comedy writing and performing pool Newhart became one of my touchstones. Smart, understated, observant.

Newhart is known for his deadpan delivery and a slight stammer which he has incorporated into his persona. All of that remains with him onstage today, which is no surprise. What did surprise me a little was how relaxed he seemed, how disarming his mega watt smile was and the charming way he often chuckled at his own bits. Mr. Newhart corpsed more than once, which only added to the fun for me. Several of his funniest and most well known bits involve hearing one half of a telephone conversation. Last night saw the classic bit "Introducing Tobacco to Civilization" and one that I think is new, where a man who works at a banquet hall takes a reservation for the last supper. He chastises the apostle on the other end of the phone for calling without much lead time because "It's Easter Weekend, a busy weekend for us". Har.

Last night saw Mr. Newhart doing a number of accents as well. A great bit with Henry Kissinger as a stand up comic is particularly memorable.

He closed the evening with a short film and a few clips from his hit sitcoms, including the enduring classic, the best last scene of a series ever, you know it, you love it...Newhart's final scene suggesting the entire series had been a bad dream experienced by Bob Newhart Show's Bob Hartley.


Photo Courtesy Maureen Nolan Photography.

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