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By Amanda-Marie Quintino

True to its name, RIOT 2006 really was, well, a riot.

The annual sketch comedy show, written, produced, directed and performed by select radio and television arts (RTA) students, showcased societal issues in a humorous, yet analytical, way. “The show’s scripts don’t all have one central theme,” RIOT’s director, Greg Benedetto explained.

“Everyone’s opinion comes out. Whether it’s about politics or poo, we just want to produce material that’ll put a smile on people’s faces and keep them thinking.”

Combining relevant topics and brutally honest humour, RIOT was hilarious and equally insightful, a mix of Saturday Night Live meets The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But RIOT had more to offer than just skits. The independently run sketch comedy was also a full- scale production.

“We’re supposed to be producing broadcast material since it’s what we’re learning in our classes,” Luc Doucet, this year’s producer, said. “We really wanted to make sure that the footage we shot and sequences we produced were good enough for TV.”

With quality camera work, diligent editing and attention to sound levels, the video component of RIOT had true television potential. The most entertaining video skit, “Ambush Therapy,” was reminiscent of the cornucopia of reality shows currently on air. In the skit, therapists Raphaela and Leonardo, played by newbie RIOT actors Marissa Caldwell and Andrew Kekewich respectively, barge into the homes of people in need of help and provide on-the-spot pep talks.

“Coming to FOX this fall,” reads the screen. RIOT, however, was not always reserved for RTA students. Now in its 56th year, the production, which stands for “Ryerson Institute of Technology,” was originally a show in which all Ryerson students were encouraged to participate.

“But, somehow, it fell into the hands of RTA,” Benedetto said. “And since we’re selfish, self-centered and constantly want the spotlight to be on us, we weren’t going to let anyone else have it.” Ticket sales have reached a record high this year and volunteer interest in the production has been overwhelming, assistant producer Kristen Clark said.

“Last year definitely wasn’t easy to get a few extra hands offering help,” she said. “This year, if we send out an e-mail asking for a bit of help, we get bombarded with responses.” Benedetto and his fellow former RIOT cast member, Doucet, have tossed aside the books and got behind the camera and into the sound booths.

RIOT has been placed at the top of their priority lists. “It’s been really hectic over the last little while,” Doucet said. “No school, no friends — just this production.” Benedetto added: “We had no set goals at the beginning of this production except to produce and put on a quality sketch comedy show for our audience.”

The lineup of on-stage sketches included scenes ranging from “Stephen Harper,” which ridicules Harper’s tunnel-vision opinions regarding hot topics such as gay marriage, adoption and taxes, to “Sex With a House,” which is unfortunately exactly what it sounds like. “Ask 12 Maple Orchard Road. It would say we had sex last night!” yelled head writer and veteran RIOT actor Tom Conway during the skit. “But, what did it expect with its big bay windows and little shutters?”

Judging by the ear-popping pitch of screams and applause after each sketch on Friday night, even the more eccentric skits were hits. Second-time RIOT actor Dan Ramos wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Whether it’s an armless hobo, a wacky personal trainer, or Jesus coming back from the dead, I’m glad I have the chance to make people laugh.”

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