Xave Ruth shows off the talents of a performer who, while not fully professional, could make a decent go of it with a little more time to tie his material together into a polished progression of songs.

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Photo by Jessica Hodgson

Music + Comedy + Math is a concert-style show with heavy amounts of audience participation (you get to make glasses out of pipe cleaners before going in, for one). Ruth, a math teacher during the non-summer parts of the year, takes us through the world of an incurable math geek who is also an amateur comedic singer-songwriter. One of the highlights of the show is a segment called “Shitty Singer-Songwriter Bingo” where Ruth performs a deliberately awful composition while the audience fills out their bingo cards for such instances as “cry-singing,” “imagery that’s basically meaningless,” and “mind-numbing repetitiveness.” The winner gets to pick the show’s ‘bonus track’ which differs for each performance (I’m a little bummed out that a previous audience had already gotten to hear “Seriously, Get that Needle Away from My Kid”). The comedic songs follow a delightfully absurd stream-of-consciousness style that takes most metaphors literally (if you like Zach Galifianakis, then you’ll probably enjoy what Ruth has to offer).

The weakest part of this show is probably the math part. Only two songs are related to the mathematical qualities of music, and even then their connection is somewhat dubious. In one, Ruth tells a story using only the letters associated with the notes on the heptatonic scale (A-G), and in the other he assigns a word to the notes on a keyboard, using only that note when the appropriate word is necessary to create a sequence of notes that actually makes grammatical sense. It’s impressive but has more to do with imposing the mathematical qualities of music onto the far less regular rules of the English language – mathematical, but not as much as might be expected from a math teacher. It’s still a very fun show, and Ruth’s teaching background comes through with occasional shushing of audience members (though to be fair, they deserved it) and his ability to capture the attention of the audience with crafts and games.

Ruth could certainly launch a career as a novelty singer-songwriter (at the very least, I hope he has his own YouTube channel) with his songs. The collection displayed in this show is loosely connected – the music, comedy, and math don’t add up to a perfect amalgamation of all the elements. Still, this show is a fun ride through the experimental comedic musings of a slightly geeky guy with a unique and funny self-deprecating sense of humour.

Xave Ruth: Music + Comedy + Math
Created and Performed by Xave Ruth

At La Nouvelle Scène – Studio B (Venue 5)
Running Time: 60 minutes

Thursday 15 June 5:30pm
Friday 16 June 11:00pm
Sunday 18 June 5:30pm

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