‘Mathieu Dufour At Bell Centre’ Review: The Comedian’s Standup Lacks A Special Touch

Comedy can be found in the most mundane of situations if one has the eye for it. Standup comedy draws a lot from such mundane situations. Speaking about one’s own experiences and adding exaggeration to elicit humor is one of the most popular routines in the standup comedy scene. Standup comedy specials are a big thing these days. With the onset of the pandemic, a lot of things shifted online. Attending a show might not be possible for all, but the OTT platforms have made it easier to meet one’s favorite artists, albeit virtually. OTT platforms provide a global reach for artists. The latest comedian to debut on Netflix is Mathieu Dufour with his standup special, “Mathieu Dufour at Bell Centre.” Bell Centre (or Centre Bell, as it is said in French) is located in Montreal, Canada, and is the largest ice hockey arena in the world. It has been the site of several sports and entertainment events since 1996.

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Mathieu Dufour’s one-hour standup special on Netflix is entirely in French, with an occasional peppering of an English phrase. His standup routine draws inspiration from real-life incidents. The French-Canadian comedian resorts to exaggerated bodily actions during his narrations to amp up the humor. There is no set premise or narration style in his work. Mathieu Dufour begins his piece by saying that he will be speaking at random. He picks up two, perhaps three, instances from his life. He begins his show by cracking jokes about how he wanted to make a grand entrance and have drones and the latest technological gadgets at his show, but his team did not have the budget. The alternatives that he mentioned were nonetheless funny, and the show starts on a funny note. First, he speaks about a paintball event that he went to with his work colleagues, and next, he speaks about his out-of-the-ordinary and untimely visit to McDonald’s. In between these two major narrations, he breaks the flow and peppers it with an odd side story or two. Despite Dufour’s disclaimer that his one-hour special will be impromptu and abrupt, it does not help the case once the special begins. It does build hope that the abrupt nature would add to the humor, but instead, it becomes a maze of jokes that one could have a hard time finding a way out of. Dufour employs all the tricks of the trade in his arsenal as he enacts the instances and alliterates them with vocals of varying caliber. He mimics the sound of opening the door at McDonalds and even the shots fired during the paintball game. These onomatopoeic gestures help paint the picture in the minds of the viewers and listeners, but they don’t add much value to the overall piece. Amidst his narrations, he also speaks about his sexual orientation. He is gay and proud of it. While he was narrating the paintball incident, he touched on the topic of how the game is associated with masculinity and adrenaline, and he, who inches towards effeminate behavior, certainly had his reservations about playing the game. He takes that chance to crack a few sexual jokes as well.

In the beginning, he claims that he has a habit of taking a joke too far sometimes, and he proves it when he narrates the incident of his intoxicated friend in a bathroom looking for the light switch. That segment went on a little longer than necessary, and it was no longer humorous when that segment concluded. The second half of Mathieu Dufour’s standup special features two guest appearances by comedian Ève Côté and TV personality Véronique Cloitier. Ève Côté’s appearance is more or less a roast of Mathieu. The segue to Ève Côté’s slot is a little abrupt and breaks the flow of the show that Mathieu has built up so far. She storms the stage with a t-shirt-throwing handheld cannon, and the audience is rewarded with white t-shirts featuring one-liners roasting Mathieu. Véronique Cloitier, who is dubbed “the Canadian Oprah Winfrey” by Dufour, performs her and Mathieu’s song “Pulet Cru,” concluding the show. The short appearance does not add much to Mathieu’s show except introduce new viewers to one of his past works. The song, just like Mathieu’s standup special, is full of foul humor. The show comes to an abrupt stop, just like it started. 

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Mathieu’s standup special is in French, and if one is to watch it with subtitles or in a different language, some of the ideas and jokes are bound to get lost in the translation. But despite the language barrier for some and also the writer of this piece, there were moments in Dufour’s piece that were funny enough for the standup to be a decent watch. One might not go back to it any time soon, but Mathieu Dufour definitely deserves a second chance. The upcoming comedian performed in front of an audience of 15,000 people in Montreal, which is no small feat. He concludes his standup special by making the trapdoor exit, which he initially mentioned and made fun of as well. There are a few backstage moments captured at the end that show Dufour’s ambition and happiness at the success of his first standup special.


About Mathieu Dufour

Mathieu Dufour is a French-Canadian influencer and comedian who shot to fame during the pandemic with his Instagram show titled “Show-rona (2020).” His style of comedy is finding mundane day-to-day incidents and narrating them with an exaggerated sense of humor and use of comic bodily actions if needed.

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Nandini Iyengar
Nandini Iyengar
Nandini has grown up on a healthy diet of books, movies and shows. Hailing from a multicultural background, Nandini has tried indulging in art from different corners of India that came naturally to her. Taking the influence further, she delved into foreign languages and indulged in content from across the globe. When she is not watching anything on her laptop, she can be found daydreaming or picking her pen to write a few words of fiction.

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