Sometimes, you just need a good laugh.
And with a spread this eclectic it doesn’t matter whether your comedic preferences lean more towards smart and sophisticated – or downright crude – you’re sure to see something that tickles your funny bone – even if just a little bit.
The Waiting Room
By Joe Leone | Length: Approx. 15 Minutes
Have you ever wondered what happens after we die? This short comedy takes place somewhere between death and the afterlife – purgatory, the proverbial waiting room where souls travel while awaiting final judgement. Except in this case, it’s more literal than figurative.
Full of off-colour jokes and slapstick antics – complete with a hilarious twist ending – this piece pulled no punches. The writing was simple, but enjoyably unpredictable. The Waiting Room was a strong opening to the night’s playbill.
Sometimes Looking Up Isn’t Good For Your Health
By Gavin Harrison | Length: Approx. 45 Minutes
When a husband and wife show up for a dinner party, they soon realize that things aren’t quite what they appear to be. An existentialist crisis ensues.
I’ve always been a fan of smart, British comedies. But it sometimes felt like I was watching a glib interpretation of what a British comedy ought to be, including the questionable fake accents.
I also felt that the runtime for this piece was a little long for the content that was presented. There was a lot of overlap when it came to the jokes and punchlines, with many comedic elements losing their novelty due to the excessive repetition. This piece also had a great plot twist, but by the time it rolled around, the premise had already begun to feel a bit stale. A little bit of tightening and cutting would have made this piece much stronger.
The Marissa Williams Show
By Joe Leone | Length: Approx. 15 Minutes
Many talk shows are just so over-the-top. But then again, that’s usually what makes great TV. The Marissa Williams show is a short play about a fictional talk show host who interviews a group of narcissists, pulled from the realms of history and pop fiction.
This was actually my favourite performance of the night. The premise was honest – it didn’t try too hard to be witty or clever, nor did it try to preach some revolutionary life lesson. It was all about being silly and earnestly trying to get a laugh out of the audience. The humor was crude and simple, but honestly hilarious. And unlike its peers, the pacing was spot-on with virtually no lag in the action. This piece made the entire night worthwhile.
Spooning The Great Bear By The Light Of The Moon
By Jen Frankel | Length: Approx. 35 Minutes
When Syl (short for Sylvia) uncovers evidence of her husband’s infidelity, her friend Kristen decides to take her on a cross-country road trip to cheer her up. It’s an endearing story about love, loss and seeing the world with a fresh perspective.
This piece, in my opinion, had the strongest writing and the strongest premise. There was character development. There was natural sounding dialogue. And there was amazing depth and consideration given to the backstory and inter-personal relationships.
Unfortunately, there were many scene changes that seemed simply unnecessary. More than once, you were left wondering how the rearrangement of the props added any real value to the story. There was one instance, for example, where four chairs that symbolized a car’s interior were moved no more than a foot over. Usually, visually alluding to the passing of time or the changing of a location is a key part of a playwright’s narrative toolkit, but because there were already very prominent lighting queues to signify a scene change, most of the prop rearrangement seemed extremely redundant, while also eating up a good chunk of this play’s run time.
I also think it’s unfair to have billed this particular piece as a comedy. While there were many great life lessons and endearing moments between the characters, the successful uses of humor as a stylistic device were just too few and far between. I really liked the premise of this piece, but with its heavy subject matter, it seemed quite out of place among the other lighter plays.
As a whole, it was a fun night of comedy. The actors all seemed to truly be enjoying themselves on stage, which translated into powerful performances that really engaged the audience.
However, many of the plays could have been greatly edited to be much tighter.
Cut the filler. Cut the unnecessary prop relocation. You’ll end up with really memorable pieces that are punchier and leave the audience on the edge of their seats. There was so much amazing material here, but in my opinion, expecting your audience to sit through a bunch of filler dialogue between jokes or relevant plot developments is unfairly presumptuous.
I should note that all these plays were all written by fledgling playwrights. And so my criticism is neither a condemnation nor an absolute judgement. Rather, it’s a bit a friendly advice about making sure your audience members feel the time they’ve invested in seeing your show is worthwhile – whether it’s through a well-placed joke, an intriguing plot twist or any other storytelling device that keeps your viewers on their toes.
Sometimes, less is more.
- Onesies is playing from Thursday, October 23rd until Sunday, October 26th at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander Street)
- Shows run Thursday to Saturday at 7:00 PM (must be 19+), as well as on Sunday at 2:00 PM (all ages)
- Tickets cost $20 ($15 for the Sunday matinee) and are available in person at the box office or by calling 416-975-8555. You may also purchase them online (additional fees may apply).