Review: Cage Match (Impatient Theatre)

Two men enter, one man leaves – this is Thunderdome! Cage Match presented at Toronto’s Comedy Bar is kind of like that, except that teams of both men and women battle with their wit and spontaneity instead of weapons.

The format is simple, like any Battle of The Bands you may have been to:  two improv troupes are pitted against each other in a set and the winner goes on to the next round. Each night has four different sets, but I only stayed for the first three, being a working girl who has to get up in the morning. The first set is at 7:30pm, the second at 8:30pm, the third at 9:30pm and the fourth at 10:30pm. Each team has exactly 22 minutes to perform, so there is time in between to grab a smoke, a beer or some food.   The Comedy Bar is fully licensed and serves food.

I went on Wednesday August 24th. The first set I saw pitted Book Club against Malapropriety. Book Club’s name is less fun but perfectly appropriate to their schtick. They cue each other by selecting an imaginary book from an imaginary shelf and whatever title/genre they come up with is the basis for the next scene.

They were the only troupe I saw that had such a specific device for scene changes, so they get points from me for that.

Another aspect of Cage Matchwas that each troupe gets only on one audience suggestion at the beginning of their time. Book Club’s was space themed and somehow they ended up from there to Archie comicrelated jokes. It’s exactly that kind of tangent that makes improv fun.

Likewise Malapropriety started off with sleeping in and ended up with a stolen fire truck and a corrupt priest. They won this first set and went on to compete on Thursday.

The second set was Three Peg Nancy versus Surprise Romance Elixir. I had a soft spot for Three Peg Nancy because they were the only all-female team of the night, and comedy is notoriously a “boy’s club.” They were very funny but not as adept as other troupes at finding the well-miked areas of the stage, so far too often it was impossible to hear what they were saying.  Surprise Romance Elixir seemed much more experienced and won easily, though I wished that they had featured all the members of their troupe more equally. It seemed they had their “stars” – all men – and everyone else played background characters.

The final match I saw was Three Men and a Baby versus Robocop School for the Arts. Three Men and a Baby was actually three men and a woman, and she had some of the funniest facial expressions and voices of the night.  However, Robocop School For The Arts were much more polished and adept and they will be advanced to the next round. A highlight of their sketch was the inclusion of many Mel Gibson jokes, which were very appropriate given the Thunderdomey aspects of the evening.

The next next show is the championship, so mark your calendars for this evening of improvisational comedy entertainment.


 – Cage Match is playing at Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St West

– The next show is Thursday September 1st; Round One is at 8 pm, Round Two is at 9 pm and the Final Round is at 10 pm.

– Each round is $5.00 at the door