Leeson’s laughter makes legend of ‘Tony the Painter’ Schell at Opera House

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

GRAVENHURST — Apparently Tony Schell is a “celebrity” in Gravenhurst.

Jeff Leeson made a snowman out of a snowball at the Opera House Saturday.

The painter sitting in the front row of Jeff Leeson’s comedy show at the Opera House last night was painted as some kind of hometown hero.

A shout out from the back of the auditorium ensured that.

“That’s why I love about small towns,” said Leeson, who singled out Schell and made him the butt of jokes just by asking him his name and “what do you do?”

“Tony Schell!” boasted a disembodied voice from the back of the darkened hall.

Which broke up an amazed Leeson, who seized on the remarkable opportunity to be tossed a snowball and turn it into a snowman.

“Just mention Tony and painter — and everybody in town knows that’s Tony Schell,” Leeson laughed along with the crowd.

And so began “The Legend of Tony The Painter Schell.”

Schell wasn’t the only one singled out in the 90-minute show Leeson headlined with two other funny comics (Tige Wright and Daniel Shaw) whose potty humour and liberal use of F-bombs broke up the many young couples and groups of lady friends who filled just under half the house.

Like A.J. — “the guy whose name rhymes,” and who’s from Port Carling, “where you can live and it’s also a beer.”

And Ezra, a realtor who sold every house in town so now he has to retire.

Or his son, Dave, a canine cop in sleepy Gravenhurst, where’s there’s little crime and his sidekick of six year gets more credit for solving crime than the 23-year-officer.

Show host Tige Wright loves F-bombs.

Then there was the couple married 28 years who can’t account for why they’ve lasted so long — to the surprise of Leeson, the laughing audience and the husband and wife themselves.

There was a lot self-deprecating humour, laughs about small towns, half-empty halls and jokes about auditoriums he always wanted to play “with not one but two friggin’ chandeliers”

“We’ll have to make sure that’s in the rider of all our contracts,” added Leeson.

That’s Leeson, the self-professed ‘King of Crowd Work,’ who made a stop on his national tour entitled ‘Grandma Used to Heckle Me.”

“True story,” he says of his career growing up.

Now it’s his thing, not entirely new, but effective in how he quickly fires off hilarious retorts to remarks from the floor.

Most impressive was his recap, in which he brought the whole night together in a rapid fire succession referencing more than 30 minutes of joke in about five minutes.

A chance for him to weave all the stories together and for the laughter to linger longer.

The audience ate up Daniel Shaw’s opening act.