Canadian Comedy Award-winning duo and Fringe mainstays Peter N’ Chris would like you to know that they have been doing comedy together for ten years – or maybe eight. In their latest Toronto Fringe Festival offering, Peter Vs Chris, they intend to go mano a mano for the last time, and only one will be left standing on the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace stage (this is, in some ways, a literal statement: there is a lot of falling down). As is befitting a Peter N’ Chris show, this may or may not be true, but part of the duo’s delight comes from the way they are always able to keep the audience just slightly off-balance.
Comedy comes from this imbalance between expectation and delivery, but it also comes from a lot of other elements, and that’s what Peter N’ Chris (never the other way around) are here to talk to us about. Structured as a Q&A about their process, the show’s proceedings quickly devolve into an argument about who is funnier and how to judge that quality. What’s out of control and what’s intentional? What’s “acting” and what’s real? That’s for you to decide.
Peter N’ Chris have been fighting and making up for (at least most of) a decade, and even though in some ways it’s at heart the same show as it’s always been, it’s always a fun one. There’s no real story here, and thus it does suffer a bit from the deliberate aimlessness, especially because we’ve seen such entertaining plots before (the problem with heightened expectations). Even Peter acknowledges at one point that these are the beats each show hits, and we know what’s going to happen. It’s both a clever meta-comment that points back to the theme of the show (the nature and formula of comedy) and underlines that we’ve gone to this well before.
It’s a really good well, though. As always, the pair’s physical comedy is assured, comfortable, and top-notch, particularly when using slow-motion, doing pratfalls, or putting together an epic fight scene. The opening mime is a stitch, showing us that not just anyone can DJ. The ad-libs were priceless, and laughs were conjured by a simple wave of the arm. I (and the rest of the audience) were essentially laughing almost constantly.
Audience participation is in evidence, but is largely limited to the front row or volunteers. If you like high-fives from talented humans, sit in the front row. If you don’t, what kind of heartless monster are you? (No, you’re all right, just don’t sit there.) Also, if you have an issue with breathing in stage fog, do sit farther back; there can be rather a lot, particularly if the machine develops a mind of its own.
If you haven’t seen a Peter N’ Chris show, what are you waiting for? If you have, this may not be their absolute best, but even that is still very good.
- Peter Vs Chris plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace. (30 Bridgman Ave)
- Tickets are $12 at the door or in advance, and can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Honest Ed’s Alley, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Gunshots, Audience Participation.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible.
- Friday July 1st, 01:15 pm
- Sunday July 3rd, 09:15 pm
- Monday July 4th, 06:15 pm
- Wednesday July 6th, 11:00 pm
- Thursday July 7th, 07:30 pm
- Friday July 8th, 12:15 pm
- Saturday July 9th, 04:00 pm
Photo of Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson provided by the company