Review: Popalopalots

Improv comedy at its finest

Review | by Chris McGarry

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If you’re in the mood for highly energetic, side-splitting improv comedy, you won’t find a better performance in town than the Popalopalots. The premise of the show is fairly simple and straightforward: four actors (Kassinda Bulger, Dylan Miller, Graham Putnam and Rob MacDonald) perform a variety of skits using zany humour and props. Staying true to the nature of high-quality improv, the sendups are not scripted and the performers continuously went from acting out one scene to the next on the spot.

During the enactment, the players kept the audience roaring with laughter while pretending to do everything from knitting, eating popsicles, finding notes of misfortune in fortune cookies, falling off buildings and other everyday events, only with nonstop madcap antics.

To make their show that much more entertaining and collaborative, Miller, Bolger, Putnam and MacDonald constantly interacted with the pleased crowd, asking them questions and involving them in the show. A hilarious example of this was when the Popalopalots played ‘freeze stand’ with the decent-sized crowd that had gathered at The Guild on a warm June 12 evening. Any time during a skit, the audience could yell ‘freeze’ and the actors would do as they were instructed.

Throughout the evening, the Popalopalots kept their fans amused with various wacky games using props such as kid’s toys and balls that genuinely enhanced their brand of screwball comedy. One such game was ‘Gibberish Switch’ in which the actors argued and bantered with one another talking mostly nonsensically. As to be expected, this only served to further make the crowd express amusement and laugh themselves into hysterics.

As for the performers themselves, each brought their own distinct style of humour and drama to the popular acting troupe. Local stage veterans MacDonald and Putnam, renowned for their performances in such long-running productions as Annekenstein and Sketch 22, have also been entertaining audiences in PEI for the past number of years with improv comedy.

Bulger, whose previous credits include playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Chapel in the Mount, had strong chemistry with her co-stars, with solid acting during the two hours of the show. Miller, who has been a regular in the Popalopalots over the past four years, was brilliant with his signature method of dark and slightly off-colour humour.

If there is one criticism I have of the show, it is that some scenes are overtly silly, don’t make sense, and often force laughter from the audience. But taken as a whole, the Popalopalots is a brilliantly entertaining show that exemplifies improv comedy at its finest. The sets and lighting are basic, yet enhance the overall quality of the show. In my opinion, the best skits performed during the evening was one based on a tweet about a newspaper article from the late 19th/early 20th century as well as the darkly funny ‘three-word eulogy’ in which three of the Popalopalots read the tribute to a fictional deceased person.

The Popalopalots plays bi-weekly in July and August.

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