The Bad Dog Theatre Company performed their annual comedy festival, COMBUSTIONfestival, from May 27-June 1, to great success and lots of laughs. The festival is a “week-long comedy party” that brings comedic groups and pairs from throughout North America to join together in learning and laughing. Continuing along the path of what the company stands for, ie good comedy and low-cost improv training, the festival is scheduled with inclusive workshops in the early evenings, followed by two sets of shows. The shows are formatted in two parts, where the first half showcases guests, and the second half gives the audience an insight into “improv game”-style performing.

I was fortunate to see the duo from Vancouver, PEDA improv, perform in the first half of an evening. Lively and fresh, the duo seemed comfortable on the stage and had a few sparkling moments of excellent comedy. They used the space well, and added a few well-placed moments of physical comedy to complement their scenes. As is especially evident in improvised comedy, there can be good and bad nights onstage. While this was by no means a bombed night for the pair, they could stand to listen to each other a little more closely: a moment or two of confusion in scene-setting could be rectified by taking the opening moments of scenes a little more slowly. 

The same could be said of some of the other groups that followed in the improv game of the evening: 50/50. An ingenious game, wherein one of the two actors onstage follow a script and the other actor gropes along through the scene with them, hopefully ending with comedy gold. The audience loved some groups, and everyone got some good chuckles. The less successful groups could definitely do with that essential listening skill. Sometimes the improvising actor would set the scene so definitively before the scripted actor gave any clue to whereabouts. Sometimes that worked hilariously well, sometimes it faltered. A comedic risk, I guess. 

Overall, I had a wonderful evening with Bad Dog Theatre Company. They were welcoming, fresh, and funny. The structure of COMBUSTIONfestival, with its workshops added into the show schedule, is a great guide for burgeoning comics in the City. Constantly training and staying on your toes is the key to success in many industries, and I commend and thank Bad Dog Theatre Company for forming their festival week in this way. Plus, the donation levels for Bad Dog Theatre Company range from Daschund, the lowest (and cutest!) monetary range all the way up to Great Dane. How totally adorable. Thanks to Bad Dog Theatre Company and all the artists involved in COMBUSTIONfestival!