The team behind Canada 151 has come to the Ottawa Fringe with a strong reputation and an even stronger funny bone. Toronto-based Not Oasis Productions brings a smart and well-executed sketch comedy show that makes every minute a joy to watch. With clever sketches tackling politics, pop culture, and gender stereotypes, this production isn’t one to write off.
One of the most notable things about Canada 151 is how smooth and clean the staging is. Even the scene transitions are fun and interesting to watch with different members of the company dancing along to loud pop music while they adjust the stage configuration and set the next scene. It was also impressive that the company managed to find a song perfectly suited to the scene previous to it, adding an extra layer of hilarity and keeping the audience fully engaged with what’s on stage.
The sketches themselves range from dealing with relationships (the Divorce-versary and the Bro Proposal skits); to touching on more politically-minded issues (the soon-to-be new parents who are trying to decide on a name that’s not “too ethnic sounding”; and the Bengali performer who gives an earnest yet humorous monologue about never feeling “Brown enough or White enough” to ever really fit in anywhere); and finally those that are just plain silly (a Disney-esque princess calling upon nature’s creatures to help her until she is mauled and pulled offstage by a bear; and a new friend at the party who only communicates through song). There are a few punchlines that are, perhaps, more groan-worthy than humourous- an orchestra member stubs his toe in Charlottetown, 1880 which, in turn, inspires the ‘O’ in ‘O Canada’, as one example; but more often than not this company delivers some seriously LOL comedy.
It’s more than a little evident that this company has been working together for some time now as Canada 151 runs like a well-oiled machine. Each individual member has great presence on stage and a good sense of comedic timing. As an ensemble there are no missed connections, flubbed lines, or waffling which is what gives this piece its clean and snappy vibe. One of my favourite sketches has to be the one about the family who adopts foreign refugees…from Ohio. It’s a great skit that subverts our expectations of what we might normally think when we hear the word “refugee” and pokes fun at the fact that on numerous occasions Americans have mentioned leaving the Trump administration to immigrate to Canada.
Honestly, there’s not much to criticize about this show. Not Oasis gives a performance that is high energy and fun from start to finish which makes it 60 minutes well spent. Smart and snappy, Canada 151 is a great example of classic sketch comedy.
A Not Oasis Production
Venue 3: Academic Hall