The television commercial is a perfect opportunity for scathing satire, hilarious physical comedy, and catchy techno beats. Short, prevalent, and full of recognizable tropes and devices, I am not surprised these become the foundation for an entertaining night. The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival’s cabaret Commercial Parodies: But Wait There’s More at the Comedy Bar came with the severe side-effects of laughter, camaraderie, and a good time.
The cabaret set up gives the audience a selection of talent. Where sometimes a sketch falls flat, another can easily pick up the slack. With the laid back atmosphere and a personable host (Aaron Hagey-MacKay from Jape), a cabaret like Commercial Parodies is a great sample of a much larger festival.
Each performer, whether an entire troupe such as Rulers of the Universe, or an individual from one of many comedy groups such as Panacea!, delivered a unique perspective on commercials. Not a single sketch overlaps, leaving a breadth of amusing scenarios more often than not played to their full potential.
Exactly what is the compelling drama in British soap operas? What really happens after a lotto 649 win? And is that fast food advertisement voice a benevolent being or an emerging bacon dictator? The answers take aim at the nature, structure, and background of the carefully crafted advertisements that inundate our day to day lives.
What was great about Commercial Parodies is that each scene was as much about the individual groups as it was about our own perspectives on advertising culture. We recognize the tropes, we do not need context or even brands, and somehow that makes some of the scenes even funnier.
Altogether, I thought the genius was how I suspected many people alongside me had followed each scenario to its natural conclusion: that commercials are downright mad. Luckily, we are just that much weirder and Commercial Parodies: But Wait, There’s More took every opportunity to point that out.
- The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival runs until March 15 at The Theatre Centre, The Randolph Theatre, and the Comedy Bar
- Festival schedule and showtimes can be found here
- Ticket prices range from $10.00-$62.00
- Tickets can be purchased at the venue box office 2 hours before showtime, in person at The Theatre Centre Advanced ticket box office, by phone (647-505-1050), or online here
Photo courtesy the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival website