100 and 50, Deadpan Powerpoint, and Maybe
Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival
November 7 @ Comedy Bar
By Meagan Snyder
At the end of any comedy festival, there’s evidence of the flowing booze and late hours—Sketchfest was no exception. In host Gary Rideout Jr.’s words, “If I sound rough, it’s because I am.” Rough, maybe, but Rideout was entertaining and the three troupes’ on-stage energy didn’t falter.
100 and 50 are Megan Fraser and Kristen McGregor, a self-described puppet and clown-focused troupe who make uncomfortable situations (a comedian’s currency) hilarious. Only two sketches actually involved puppets or clowns, but their adeptness with both media translated into a general panache for physical and visual humour—especially when kept brief, such as a quick request from McGregor to Fraser for a Houdini-style punch in the gut, and a commercial parody for TLC’s “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant,” (presenting this sketch on video may ease a couple rough transitions, doing justice to its clever goofiness). At the beginning of their set Fraser and McGregor informed the audience that they were performing some new material, and that was clear in moments—although all their premises and performances were solid, some sketches sprawled a little far and will benefit from the editing and tightening up that will come with further performances.
Deadpan Powerpoint deserve kudos right off the top for their accurate name and program description: “The application of suits and lectures to comedy has never been more emotionless.” Indeed—this two-man troupe presented a cohesive set of three very funny PowerPointlectures, and remained committed to their deadpan delivery the entire time, even and especially when juxtaposed with ridiculous ideas and images projected behind them. Their set was polished, obviously the end result of a great deal of hard work. The word choice in every lecture and piece of dialogue was perfect, and the delivery always funny and appropriate to the content and context. Slides were equally perfectly timed and carefully chosen, existing reciprocally with the verbal jokes as well as acting as an individual source of humour. Laughs came from all directions here as they effortlessly weaved in and out of lecture topics such as the dangers of time travel, guiding the audience in keeping it real, and “The Fundamentals of Murder in the First Degree.” While all three lectures were very funny, the last took the PowerPoint concept to a different level through including the presenters in the slides and getting a little too personal, allowing the lecture to eventually circle back on itself and implode. This helped solidify the presenters as comedic characters rather than simply vessels for material, and left the audience wanting to follow those characters down more ridiculous roads.
Adam Cawley, Rob Norman, and Jason DeRosse came together from Second City, Mantown, and The Sketchersons, respectively, to form Maybe. The acting chops developed with these well-respected comedic groups were made obvious through Maybe’s consistently energetic and funny performances. Their set was kept cohesive to an extent by an ‘Internet Headquarters’ frame, though an overriding theme connecting the sketches to the frame was difficult to identify, beyond a generally satirical point of view with glimpses of absurdity. The three performers created and played engaging characters, which helped keep the audience in the moment despite some forces pushing us out of the world of the sketch, such as some botched lines, an unfortunate missed tech queue, and some overuse of Toronto-specific references. The botched lines and some breaking of character suggested that Maybe, like 100 and 50, were working on some relatively new material here, and given their strong ideas and delivery, this material will surely gel with further performances.
While you’re waiting for next year’s festival, be sure to check out some material on Bite.ca