Matteo Lane JFL42, Toronto ON, September 21

Matteo Lane JFL42, Toronto ON, September 21
Matteo Lane is a triple threat. He's funny, he can sing, and boy, can he do a mean oil painting, as the audience learned at his Streisand at the Bon Soir show at Comedy Bar on Friday. This show is undoubtedly unique. Lane joins his long-time friend and keyboardist Henry Koperski on stage for a night of songs (some Streisand, some not). His vocal range is impressive, and his confidence even more so. Between songs, he and Koperski improvise: bantering with each other, practicing accents of famous celebrities (Lane's best were Liza Minelli and Maroon 5's Adam Levine), and trying out short bits of songs astray from their set list. The magic of this show is in these moments; when Lane goes off the cuff and inevitably onto a wild tangent, anything can happen.
Perhaps it's the tremendous chemistry that Lane and Koperski flaunt that makes this show so entertaining, or perhaps it's their chemistry with the audience. Lane's crowdwork can best be described as assertive: At one point, Lane took an inattentive audience member's phone away from her, claiming that, as a performer, he needs positive energy around him at all times. At another point, he told an stoned front-rower that, for future reference, the best practice for coming to comedy show stoned is to sit in the back ("your energy is making me so nervous right now!") And Koperski served as a loyal sidekick the whole way through.

The highlight of the night was the pair's rendition of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby," a powerful closer with Lane on lead vocals and Koperski chiming in with backups. Energetic and inviting, the performance moved a rowdy audience to clap and sing along, unprompted.

Unafraid to call people out, to improvise, and to embrace the empty space between songs with banter and crowd work, Matteo Lane is unabashedly himself — and it's this comfort in his own skin that carries him through an unconventional musical-comedy routine.