By Adam Eisner
A man dressed in overalls stands at a supermarket counter with a bored clerk.
“Do you take Interac?” he asks.
The clerk shakes her head.
“Do you take children?”
She nods. He calls his son over and exchanges him for pornography and bacon. He gets two Cabbage Patch dolls as change.
Welcome to RIOT, Ryerson’s annual sketch comedy show. It can’t help but offend and shock audience members while making them laugh at the same time. “It is filled with profanity and your basic slapstick humour,” said Vanessa Arscott, the show’s assistant producer.
For the most part, the offensive slapstick humour works. RIOT features eight students with excellent stage presence and convincing acting abilities. It mixes a sleek combination of sound effects, video clips and live stage acting.
One memorable clip shows Hunter S. Thompson (of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fame) interviewing Moses for a television newscast. Thompson asks Moses questions including, “You got any speed?”
Thompson and Moses aren’t the only targets of RIOT’s humour. The WWF gets satirized, Bouchard tells Manning “Mankind” that “there’s a vacancy in the smack-down hotel.”
And not even God can escape RIOT’s wrath. Got is put on trial, and accuses a teenage girl of “messing up my shit.”
Carlie Baxter, one of RIOT’s assistant directors, said that unlike other years, the show’s writers were not very concerned about offensive content. “This year more than other years, we just said, “Let’s go for it,’” she said.
RIOT, short for Ryerson Institute of Technology, began in 1950 as a “stunt night” to inaugurate Ryerson’s new gym. RIOT continued as a musical revue and ran until 1976, when it was cancelled because of a lack of interest. It was resurrected in 1981 by RTA students. Most of the students involved are from radio and television arts, theatre and technical production.
While this year’s show, for the most part, kept the audience in stitches, there were some sketches that fell flat. The audience was less than receptive to most of the musical interludes, except for “Chico’s Anthem,” which starred a Latin male singing “don’t want to do no crack… just want a Big Mac.”
Many of the skits, while funny, had awkward endings or were too long. The show’s shorter skits were the most successful, delivering quick, hilarious bits of comedy.
However, overall, the $8 (or $5 in advance) admission to RIOT is money well spent. The show features witty, snappy humour of Second City calibre. Shows run from Wednesday to Saturday at the Eaton Lecture Theatre. Showtime is 8 p.m., with a special showing on Saturday — when RIOT traditionally removes the few remaining censors on their performances. Tickets are on sale in the foyer of the Rogers Communications Centre.