Retro humour, unscripted laugh and travelling bards

Theatre Sainte-Catherine’s monthly Sketch night here to amuse and entertain you

The Theatre Sainte-Catherine (TSC) is small. For somebody who’s never seen it, it’s a bottleneck connecting a stage to a bar with a dozen or so tables. From its size and minimal sets, one would be justified in enquiring how it survives, despite a busy weekly schedule of improv, laughs, and stage drama. Such places are not supposed to be small, I tell myself. They are supposed to be visited by the masses and have huge stages. Nor had I heard of the performers before. Added to my often precariously subjective humour, seldom finding toilet or sexual humour — comedic staples, both of them — amusing, I could see things going south very soon.

Things were anything but. I’m quickly reminded each time I go there that the minimal space is made for small gatherings. It magnifies the intimacy of the atmosphere. Laughter doesn’t disappear or get drowned out, but comes loud and clear and individual to the person emitting it, and you feel close enough even in the furthest back rows to be included in a skit.

That night was the beginning of TSC’s first ever monthly sketch night, which I presume is a mixture of established talent and stage volunteers (or travelling bards) with unshakeable confidence in their craft.

Comics Daniel Carin and Chris Sandiford’s beginning fare of talk show mockery was good enough to be the main meal. The two have real chemistry with each other, and I found myself wondering if they were besties in real life. Bonus points for their routine’s  inclusion of two things close to my heart: book reviews and science fiction humour, which are about as far as you can get from penis jokes and fart humour.

TSC’s house sketch team caused much laughter with creative skits featuring gossipy airhead news reporter Justine (whose name is a play on (this) “just in”), a fierce MIC battle over whose mothers were nicer, and a healthy dose of babies getting shot with handguns, amongst other things. The lads were magnificent in their enthusiasm and ability, the women more so (Katie Leggitt’s accents and facial expressions were really impressive).

It was at this moment, during a mercifully placed intermission, that a scheduling conflict caused an early departure. But the show did have real lasting effects: I find myself prowling about the internet for Carin & Sandiford’s videos late at night and waiting for the right situation to pawn off residual jokes as my own.

There were, of course, a few hiccups. Host Brad Armstrong’s uncomfortable focus on a front-row audience member was a bit awkward, even the best skits can sometimes be excessive in length, and certain subject matter was of a questionable nature (ISIS beheadings — a bit too soon?).

Yet the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the performers shines through, and their sharp wits and material grab you and demand you give them proper respect. Small as it is, you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a community of performers who did their thing before you’d come by, and would persist at it long after you left. The most genuine moments came when the composure of the cast members cracked under each other’s witty repartee and you saw authentic, unscripted laughs. They might not be getting paid a lot for what they do, and they may not get huge crowds, but they’re having a hell of a lot of fun. The small nook in the wall that is the Theatre Sainte-Catherine is doing just fine, and will continue to do so.

For more information about Theatre Sainte-Catherine events, visit theatresaintecatherine.com.

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