Review: Cash Me If You Can (Horse and Hound Productions)

Picture of Patrick Combs at ATM in Cash Me If You Can in Toronto

Cash Me If You Can is a ‘fun evening’ of a one-man performance full of self-deprecating humour

Patrick Combs took on a bank and won. Cash Me If You Can is his story and he’s telling it at the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre. It’s a great story and he tells it well. Which is to be expected; he’s been telling it to a lot of people for a while now.

When Combs was 29 he got one of those junk mail cheques in his mail. The kind we’ve all received, part of a ‘you can get rich too’ pitch. It was payable to him in the amount of $95,095.33, drawn on a real bank, signed, and had “NOT NEGOTIABLE FOR CASH” printed in the top right corner. He decided to deposit it as a joke. The show is the story of what happened after that.

It took me a little bit to get into the show. Combs opened with a really lame joke which had the effect of making me less than receptive to the first five or ten minutes. He has a boyish charm that’s hard to resist and I warmed up to his performance.

There are two pieces to Cash Me If You Can: Combs’ story and his performance.

The thing that makes the story great is that the bank’s actions are exactly what you would expect from a bank in a situation like this. Combs’ actions will, at times, probably have you wondering if he was terminally naive – things like giving the bank a third ultimate ultimatum just boggled my mind.

As well as performing, Combs also wrote the show. It’s funny. Some of the humour is self-deprecating, some of it is slap your knee funny. It’s written in the voice of a 29 year old without a lot of experience dealing with corporate life.

Combs performs it as himself at 29. I mentioned the boyish charm and naivete, and there’s something quite endearing about Patrick at 29. There’s also a lot of initiative which foreshadows his success as a television personality and a motivational speaker. There were a couple of times that he veered into motivational speaking territory during the show. They were very short but his voice and body language changed during those moments.

He has excellent comedic timing and knows the value of a well placed catch phrase, in this case “money talks, doesn’t it?” when he got through to the people he wanted on the phone after initially being told they weren’t in.

His costume choices reinforced the persona: jeans and T-shirts with great graphics. One said “As seen on TV”.

The set was interesting. On the far right side of the stage there was a sofa with a coffee table and a side table. The couch and tables were pretty much there to hold props; a page-a-day calendar, mail, and a 1990s telephone.

There was a very funny slow motion sequence where he pulled off pages from the calendar to show a long time passing slowly.

There was a big screen at the back of the stage that projected locations; the ATM machine where he deposited the cheque, stacks in a law library, the lobby of a big bank. It was an effective way to set the scene.

Combs delivers a relaxed, solid performance. He uses the stage well, keeps moving enough that everyone has a good chance to see him. He integrates the props well, the backdrop grounds the show in time and place. There’s music to help with that. He really uses all the tools at his disposal in a way that I don’t often see with solo performers. I was impressed.

Cash Me If You Can is a fun evening. Lot’s of laughs and an interesting story. A nice break from holiday season preparations.

Details:

Cash Me If You Can is playing until December 21 at the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre (26 Berkeley Street)

Shows run at 8pm, with matinees at 2pm on Saturdays and Sunday December 15

Tickets range from $49 to $69

Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-538-0988, or in person at the box office