Comedian Kurtis Conner wows fans with stand-up tour

Written By Rachel Ross, Co-Features/A&E Editor

On Sunday, September 4th, I saw Kurtis Conner’s live stand up comedy routine in Buffalo, New York. For those unfamiliar, Conner is an internet personality, primarily creating commentary YouTube content, with over 4 million subscribers on the platform. I’ve been a big fan for several years now, and so when I heard that he was going on a stand up tour with fellow web personalities Jacob Sharpe and Dean Hebscher, and that they would be stopping in my hometown, I took the opportunity to see the internet boys live.

The crowd was sizable, mostly consisting of individuals in their late teens to late twenties. With his fan base consisting of primarily young internet users, I hadn’t been sure initially how full of a house to expect. It was a pretty large theater, one of the larger ones in the city, and he had it packed pretty full. The turnout was a testament to his popularity and success in maintaining a loyal following. 

The order in which the comedians performed created a well paced flow for the show. 

Sharpe, who I started watching consistently on YouTube about a year ago, was the first opener, bursting out from behind the curtain to run and skip back and forth across the stage, waving and hyping up the crowd. This energy endured throughout the entire set, which was about a half hour in length. The majority of the performance surrounded Sharpe’s experience with having and recovering from brain cancer during the pandemic, a seemingly unlikely topic for stand up comedy. However, Sharpe maintained a very lighthearted tone throughout the set, acknowledging the uncomfortability of the subject and sometimes utilizing it as part of the comedy. He masterfully flipped subtopics like unsupportive relatives and undergoing chemotherapy on a head, delivering these difficult to swallow subjects with a heaping spoonful of sugar. It was a very candid recounting of his experience, and incredibly funny. Part of the set was devoted to how Sharpe doesn’t want to be viewed as a hero for undergoing what he did, but I think it’s incredibly admirable how he is able to take such a horrific and grim experience and speak about it with such zest and honesty. I was already a fan of his previous to the show, but his segment greatly heightened my view of him as a performer and comedian. If he were to do a tour on his own, I would absolutely be interested in seeing him. 

Next up with Dean Hebscher, who I was admittedly unfamiliar with beyond one or two appearances in Conner’s videos. He was definitely better suited to go second than first; he had a much calmer way about him than Sharpe that acted as a nice cooldown before getting to the main event. Hebscher exceeded my expectations; like I said, I didn’t really know anything about him, but I figured he had to be funny if he was opening for Kurtis Conner. His set was more across the board, ranging from school stories to clubbing experiences. I don’t know that I would say he held his own like Sharpe did, but he was definitely still entertaining. He’s a talented performer, but I wouldn’t necessarily rave about his set, especially compared to the other two. 

After Hebscher, it was finally time for the main event: Mr. Kurtis Conner. Being the headliner, his set lasted about an hour and a half, during which time he talked about a plethora of different subjects, from the pandemic to embarrassing stories to rock songs with extremely questionable lyrics. I went in with high expectations having been a fan of Conner for so long, and he completely blew them out of the water; he was fantastic. His style of comedy, with his chill, relatable nature perfectly translated from his videos to the stand up format. I felt completely invested in all of his stories and tangents, which had great build up and timing to them. It very much felt as though he utilized the different opportunities that come with the structure of stand up, as well as the freedom of not being shackled down by YouTube’s rules and regulations. However, it wasn’t different enough that it felt unfamiliar or like something entirely new; it was his same style, just in a different form. He did also incorporate video and audio recording elements into the show, which felt like a direct tie to the content he is primarily known for. His introduction included a video edited in his usual YouTube style, and a bit towards the end had him telling one liners over a song he “downloaded off of YouTube” and had “Never heard before” which ended up being filled with distracting interruptions making fun of some of the platform’s cliches. I appreciated these incorporations acknowledging his online presence, but also that they were infrequent; it was a nice subtle touch here and there, without feeling like something to fall back or rely on. 

Much like with Sharpe, seeing Conner live further accentuated my view of his talents; he was incredibly competent and masterful, while still maintaining an approachable, relaxed disposition. It never felt like he was taking himself too seriously, which is, you know, a pretty important part of a comedy show. He created an environment that felt very intimate and personable despite the magnitude of people; it felt like we were all just hanging out together goofing off, which I see as the mark of a truly successful performer. He expertly utilized the energy of the audience as a bouncing off point for banter and quips; it was very much a give and take, with the crowd absorbing Conner’s vibrancy, and him absorbing ours. Conner is a natural performer; he delivered his prepared bits with seemingly effortless timing and improvised bits based off of audience reactions with masterful ease. 

Despite its rapid growth and development over the past decade, a lot of people still tend to see YouTube or Twitch as a “fake job”, and their content creators as sub par or not as worthy of revere as a traditional celebrity. I think anyone that has seen this show would have a hard time making that argument again, for Conner more than holds his own among any standard, and proves he’s not to be underestimated. 

I had a fantastic experience at Kurtis Conner Live; it was absolutely worth the price of admission (which was $89 for a third row seat). His openers were great- with emphasis on one more than the other- and he was fantastic. If you’re familiar with any of the boys, I would one hundred percent recommend, and even if you’re not, I would still recommend; as long as you like to laugh and have a good time, it’s the show for you.