Review: The Panel Show (The Hard Luck Bar)

The Panel Show hosted by Ned Petrie at The Hard Luck Bar on Dundas West was the perfect way to spend a Tuesday evening. The concept of the show is, yep you guessed it, a panel show. Similar to CBC’s The Debaters or the UK show ‘Have I Got News For You‘ the show is hosted and created by Ned Petrie & Chris Leveille who ask questions to the panel of three which on Tuesday  night consisted of Ron Sparks, Mike Kiss & Rhonda Riche. This was the debut Panel show and it was a great way to start what I hope will become a continually successful show.  I am not sure if it was just the particular dynamic of the three panelists that made the show work so well, or the intelligent and funny questioning supplied by Ned but I found the show to be thoroughly entertaining and educating.

The format is as follows: there are several rounds of questions, broken into categories such as ‘It’s Parliamentary Dear Watson’ and other fun titles.  Each panelist gets a question usually related to recent news events and they get points for correct answers. As the show continues there is lots of very funny banter between the panelists and Ned, which is sort of the point of the show.

All of this is under the guise that one of the 3 will win a novelty cheque for $1 million dollars. However, the three panelists the night I attended ended up playing more as a team so the point scoring became a little unnecessary and I did wonder if there could be another way to incorporate a competition or have them all work toward a goal of some kind.

There were a few other moments that didn’t quite work for me, a bad joke button was a little too much and the Steve Gaddafi character didn’t quite fit in with the structure of the piece. Although played well by the very talented Mike Tanchuk, I think figuring out how to out how to incorporate another character into the room without standing in front of the panelists, who we have now all connected with, would help.

I also felt that they needed to either use microphones for everyone or not use them at all. Both the hosts had mics but the panel did not, which meant sometimes I lost what they were saying. I would have liked Ned to connect with the audience a little more; because of the positioning of the chair he was often directed towards the panel and it would have been a bit more inclusive if he had faced the audience more.

After the mini break – which gives the audience an opportunity to buy beer named after the bar! – they invited Trevor Burnett, a cocktail specialist to the show. I was a little unsure about how this dynamic would work but it was actually really interesting and funny. Trevor is clearly at ease on the stage so as long as future guests are similarly at ease it’s a really nice idea and adds a different element to the concept.

Following this they had a show business section where Dave Tichauer did a hilarious movie review that was fast-paced and silly, but one of the highlights of the evening. It was nice to see the others on stage really enjoy it too. That and Mike Kiss talking about his janitor experience where he was “too young to be buying a grown-ass man a garment” were my laugh-out-loud moments of the night.

The final piece with the music interlude didn’t quite work for me. This interruption changed the pace of the show, but it was short-lived and we were able to get on with crowning Mike Kiss as the night’s winner. It was a great finish to the show.

They have two more shows planned for the last Tuesday of the month so September 27th and October 25th are two dates you should put in your diary now especially if you like intelligent, debate-provoking comedy. It will be well worth going to the BarCade Theatre at The Hard Luck Bar. And don’t forget they have karaoke following the show, which is just too good to not stick around for.


– The Panel Show has shows on September 27th and October 25th

– The show plays at the BarCade Theatre at The Hard Luck Bar (812 Dundas Street West)

– Shows start at 8PM

– Call 416.756.7777 for further information

– Tickets are $5