Bad Dog Theatre celebrates all things Joss Whedon in this hilarious holiday improv at Toronto’s Comedy Bar
Based on the success of their first Whedonesque show over Labour Day weekend, Bad Dog Theatre decided to revisit the world of Joss Whedon for their last performance of 2013 with Whedonesque for the Holidays. Last Saturday, three back to back improv shows based on Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the short-lived series Firefly took over Comedy Bar’s theatre space. Each performance lasted just under an hour with the cast mixing it up for each show by playing different characters.
It’s a smart move on the part of director Darryl Pring as Whedon has a huge fan base. Add to that the fact that all three series have long since ended, and you’ve got the recipe for a pretty gung-ho built in audience. Full disclosure: I’m definitely a fan, which is why I purposely sought a non-Whedon follower to be my guest for the evening.
Bad Dog Theatre does some great work with improv parodies, though not without some slow moments at times trying to get a handle on a scene, or trying not to break by laughing. The great thing about Whedon as source material is that a lot of his characters are extremely distinct, lending to some hilarious over-exaggeration from the cast. The added surprise of throwing in audience suggestions just amped up the humour that much more, turning Captain Hammer into Captain Plunger, leaving Buffy illiterate, and filling the cargo bay of Serenity full of puppies slated to be orphan food (I guess you had to be there).
I was mostly curious as to whether the shows would be as appealing to someone unfamiliar with the Whedonverse. While the improv itself is hilarious and impressive, I was surprised to find out that my friend Adriana not only laughed consistently through the whole thing, but enjoyed the Dr. Horrible set the most (she was only a little bit familiar with Buffy beforehand). I think she was dazzled by the fact that the actors were improvising the songs as well as the scenes.
While the Whedon fan in me feels like some of the actors could have pushed the envelope a little more with their characters, the shows flowed smoothly for the most part and I still found myself laughing my drink out of my nose. Like most parodies, I’d say if you know the original you’ll get a lot more out of it, but as my friend Adriana can attest, with Pring’s great cast and good eye for narrative structure, it doesn’t really matter.