By Meagan Snyder
June 14: Rounds A and B
The preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon began June 14 at Comedy Bar, and let me just say that if the intensity of the Stanley Cup finals has been too much for you, STAY AWAY from Comedy Bar between now and Saturday night. Ba-rutal vibe. Just kidding, everyone was super nice and supportive of each other. After all, they’re all fighting the good fight for sketch comedy in Toronto. That fight was very enjoyable to watch – everyone clearly had fun on stage, the audiences were supportive, the host’s (Paul Snepsts, co-artistic producer of TO Sketchfest) interstitials were short and sweet, and energy was high. In MY heart, Sketch Com-Ageddon-ers, you’re ALL winners. That said, here are the highlights of Rounds A and B:
Themes: While every sketch tonight was unique, there were some definite thematic links, for better or worse: cross-dressing (The Adjective Nouns, Tough Crowd, The Cool Grapes), gay jokes (The Migratory Salvation Show, Seventh Round Picks, Colonel Mustard), song and/or dance (The Adjective Nouns, Plum Thunder, Seventh Round Picks, Warm Summer Hotness, The Temps), and character-driven pieces (The Adjective Nouns, Reverse Oreo, The Temps, Tony Ho).
Best Premise: Rulers of the Universe got the night off to a good start with a clever premise about the financial repercussions of a weatherman’s 3 Degree Guarantee; Plum Thunder’s musical ode to Nutella was original and high-energy, and Fratwurst won me over with a sketch completely dependent on both knowledge of the TTC and wordplay, which are basically the two things I’m best at. I was an easy target.
Best Writing: Tony Ho’s disturbingly funny sketch about two brothers trying their best to impress their mom’s boyfriend as they present their book report was written cleverly enough that I had the urge to read the script as I watched; Plum Thunder’s parody of Total Eclipse of the Heart was original and engaging; The Adjective Nouns’ ‘Sues’ hit a good balance between script and improv, and Fratwurst’s TTC-related puns were unforced and all funny.
Funniest Jokes: It feels redundant for me to bring up Fratwurst again, so I’ll just mention in an unrelated note that I LOVE PUNS; The Adjective Nouns had an admirable tribute to Susan Boyle (“they didn’t think she could sing because she’s ugly!”); Reverse Oreo’s counter-intuitive driver had some of the best lines of the night.
Best Physicality: Plum Thunder’s physical performance was far too skilled for comedy nerds and Seventh Round Picks broke out some delightfully dorky dancing, but Warm Summer Hotness wins this one for a sketch almost entirely dependant on well-choreographed dance moves that communicated discomfort and energy without words.
Funniest Characters: I could see entire shows devoted to The Adjective Nouns’ ‘The Sues,’ Reverse Oreo’s Matt Foley-esque driving instructor, or Tony Ho’s troubled brothers.
Up-and-Comers: The night offered a nice mix of seasoned performers and fresh faces. Watch out for Seventh Round Picks and The Temps.
My Pick: Plum Thunder
Judges’ Pick: Reverse Oreo
Audience Pick: Plum Thunder
My Pick: Fratwurst
Judges’ Pick: Tony Ho
Audience Pick: Fratwurst
Reverse Oreo, Plum Thunder, Fratwurst, and Tony Ho will all move on to the semi-finals on Friday, June 17, at Comedy Bar. The winning troupe receives a cash prize and a guaranteed slot in November’s TO Sketchfest. Come out to support these performers and raise funds for TO Sketchfest.