I’ve had some rough times with sketch comedy and it was with some mild trepidation that I took in the one-night only Double Date Comedy Show over the weekend. Not every scenario was a winner for me, but the hour I spent with this pairing of two troupes, Summer Dad and $20 Sandwich, was a genuinely great time.
Summer Dad’s most painfully relatable bit is their street musician spoof of the Barenaked Ladies “If I Had $1000000.” The joke is, ultimately, how quickly that would run out if you were living in Toronto. One of them accurately quips: “that song really didn’t age well.” Though the joke is pretty one-note, the sheer manic intensity of the agonizingly high-strung gay man in a sex shop was a surprise hit for me. My favourite of their offerings—a well-executed sequence that really charmed me—was their old school, silent film slapstick bit about a couple’s meal prep competition that escalates into an absurd series chases and deaths. Classic. No notes.
While presenting a variety of episodic shenanigans, $20 Sandwich has an actual overarching plot! Inspired by feedback that their troupe seems like sit-com characters that live and work together, they’ve invented a cheesy storyline that plays off familiar sit-com tropes and features some great phoney accents.
When the beloved pizza joint they all work at burns down, the four of them must go off to make money some other way. My favourite bit is an employer phone reference that becomes increasingly high stakes and ludicrous. Some other highlights include an Uber Eats initiation framed as a high-tech, James Bond style mission assignment, a gangster movie reference construction job interview and a sperm donation dream sequence.
Directed by local comedy Renaissance man, Brandon Hackett, this troupe is going for a more ambitious narrative structure than your typical sketch revue. They have integrated video elements to simulate television with commercial breaks. Though there were a number of technical glitches with this aspect of their performance, they took these in self-aware stride and worked them into the comedy.
Individually, I found all members of each troupe very endearing and their group dynamic is delightfully mischievous. The cozy, black-box layout of Parkdale’s The Assembly Theatre pulls you into a communal atmosphere and allows you to more intimately experience the performers’ energy—a very specific advantage not all venues share. And both of these troupes give such warm, inclusive vibes—another very specific quality not all comedy troupes share.