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Popular comedy show The Debaters coming to Sidney theatre

Let the facts and funny fly
The Debaters, live in Edmonton 2017. (Courtesy

By Timothy Collins

Fans of the long-running CBC comedy show The Debaters are in for a treat as the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney will be presenting The Debaters Live on Tour Holiday Special on Nov. 29 and 30.

And, for anyone left in Canada who hasn’t heard the show (it has, after all, been on the air since 2006), this is the opportunity to see comedy at its best.

In truth, The Debaters is a little hard to define. It’s part stand-up comedy, part quiz show and part comedy competition, but one thing is certain – it’s very funny.

The popular CBC radio program has been on the air for almost two decades and in that time has featured a host of performers representing the best of Canada’s comedic talent. They take the stage to debate some not-too-serious topics like “Cosmetic Surgery vs. Spanking” and “Don Cherry vs. Psychotherapy” and they do it with all the intensity of an ill-behaved middle school debate club..

The show will feature two debates, introduced by the show’s award-winning host, Steve Patterson, whose cringeworthy puns are always a treat and have become an expected part of the show.

Then two of Canada’s top headlining stand-up comics, Katie-Ellen Humphries and Graham Clark, will do their best to support their positions with a mix of fact and funny that ranges from obvious pandering to the crowd, made-up “facts” and outrageous opinions that will leave the audience in stitches.

And the audience is an important part of the show, given that the winner of the debates is decided by which comic can garner the loudest applause.

Patterson describes the show as a unique vehicle for stand-up comedy and although some of the gags are scripted, much of it is improv. That’s particularly true of the “Bare Knuckle Round” when the comics incorporate what’s happened during the show and everything sort of goes off the rails.

Even Patterson’s puns, which are scripted, have a spontaneous character as the reaction of the other comics and the audience is not part of the script.

“The secret to a good pun is to be so bad that it’s good. It can’t be sort of good, because then it’s bad. They’ve got to be bad to be good,” said Patterson.

That sort of makes sense.

To add to the night, Patterson, Humphries and Clark will each take the opportunity to offer up their own standup bits to warm up the crowd. Tickets for this night of laughs are available at

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