Review: Pushpins (Bad Dog Theatre)

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Toronto’s Bad Dog Theatre Company offers hilarious budget-friendly weekly improv

The Bad Dog Comedy Theatre is hard to find on a cold night, but my plus-one and I were able to spot it hidden between buildings. We opened the door and walked up a narrow staircase into a bar. The place was packed. All the bar seats were taken. People were chatting excitedly. I could feel the hyped energy of the place before we even got our tickets. I knew then, that this was going to be a fun crowd.

A fun crowd is essential for the kind of show that Pushpins is doing. The crew of ten comics have to improvise sketches based on suggestions by the audience. Instead of asking for suggestions every few minutes, the crew takes only two suggestions from the audience at the very beginning: a location and an adjective. The crew uses that to collectively invent a little universe. The audience gives them an idea and they run with it.

At first, the improv was a little shaky, but as their invented universe began to take shape all the stories got funnier. Once the crew figured out what direction they were going in, I was happy to follow along. The best part of the show is the chemistry between the crew. The crew is comprised of : Colin Munch from Punch Up; Anders Yates from Uncalled For; Paloma Nuñez from BDRP; Jess Bryson from HOOKUP; Craig Anderson from The Sunday Service; Lucy Hill from Toronto, I Love You; Dan Beirne from Dad Drives; Nicole Passmore from Benjamins – Vancouver; Nadine Djoury from The Weaker Vessels; and Jordan Moffatt from CRUSH improv – Ottawa. I didn’t feel like I was watching people at work. I felt like I was watching a group of friends goofing around. An audience just happened to be in front of them.

The only problem I had with the show was that it was incredibly short. It absolutely whizzed by. Part of me was hoping it was an intermission and they would come back for another round. I’m sure keeping the show short and sweet is best for improv comedy.

If you want to check out the show, prepare yourself with a few interesting categories to shout out for inspiration. Don’t get discouraged by the short run-time. The bar is open and there are other shows courtesy of Bad Dog Theatre right after. Whether you stay for a little bit or go for the long haul, you’re bound to have an inexpensive and good time.

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Photo by Thea Fitz-James

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