Can you save a life with comedy? That’s the question Theatre Brouhaha asks in the Toronto Fringe Festival production of Kat Sandler’s Punch Up. I’m not sure if any lives were saved on opening night, but there were certainly audience members doing the ugly laugh-cry. This is one hysterical show.
Pat, aka “The Funniest Man in the World”, is a comedian who hasn’t been feeling so funny since his divorce. And just when Pat (Colin Munch) has lost his comedy, Duncan (Tim Walker) comes looking for it. Duncan has fallen in love with the saddest girl in the world (Caitlin Driscoll), and if he can’t make her laugh, she’s going to die. So what do you do when you need a comedian’s help? You tie them up in your super-secret basement and force them to write jokes, of course! What then follows is a comedy routine better than anything on the last three seasons of SNL.
Creating a show about comedy is almost a challenge for audiences to search out the unfunny parts, but Sandler’s script doesn’t even give you a chance to catch your breath from one joke before you’re onto laughing at the next one. She uses nearly every comedy convention – props, anecdotes, pratfalls – but it’s not all flash. Punch Up also explores the human need for humour and love in our lives. The funny parts were sometimes a little sad, and the sad parts were a little funny. The writing needed no “punching up” at all; I want some of what Kat Sandler’s been drinking.
The three-member cast are all comedy stars – literally, in one case, with Canadian Comedy Award nominee Munch. But I most enjoyed Walker’s schlub, Duncan, who turns out to be the funniest unfunny person in the world. I just wanted to give Duncan a million hugs.
The audience during my show were clearly all Kat Sandler fans, or family members, or both, applauding after every scene change. The opening night show was completely sold out, so get your tickets soon, or you might end up being that one person at the Fringe Tent who doesn’t get the joke.
Punch Up is playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre, 15 Devonshire Place. (Near Bloor St. W. and St. George St.)
July 05 at 11:00 PM
July 07 at 05:00 PM
July 08 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 07:30 PM
July 11 at 02:15 PM
July 13 at 03:30 PM
Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details.
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo of Tim Walker and Colin Munch, provided by Theatre Brouhaha.