SUNDAY NIGHT LIVE'S 100TH show written and performed by the Sketchersons, with guests Colin Mochrie, Don Ferguson, Lucy Decoutere, John Avery, Seán Cullen, musical guest Brian Byrne and more. Sunday (April 9) at 7 pm. $35. Winter Garden (189 Yonge). 416-870-8000, www.thesketchersons.com. Rating: NNNNN
The Sketchersons are the Broken Social Scene of the comedy world. The 13-member troupe consists of an eclectic mix of stand-up, sketch, theatre and writing talents, and over the past two years they've let dozens of guest artists join their fold, if only for a show or two.
Fitting, then, that member Gary Rideout Jr. wants their 100th show - Sunday at the Winter Garden - to feel like a rock concert.
"I want people screaming their lungs out," says Rideout. "I want it to be rowdy and electric. We stand to get nothing from this financially, so let's sell out and have an awesome celebration."
The show's a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is being presented by a mutual funds company, which shelled out the cash for the pricey theatre.
Guests include a long list of former hosts, including Whose Line and 22 Minutes' Colin Mochrie, Trailer Park Boys' Lucy Decoutere and the Argos' John Avery.
Former I Mother Earth frontman Brian Byrne is the musical guest.
Pretty impressive for a group of 20-something comics who a few years ago were virtual unknowns. Not that anyone from the core cast is a household name - yet.
But since their first show, way back on January 4, 2004, the group has nurtured a ton of talent, and if you go see them this time - or when they return to their Brunswick House home on April 23 - you'll definitely recognize a face or two.
You'll also like their wise-ass, edgy humour, which has built a cult following for continuing characters like Paul Del Rio, Craig Brown's temp worker/aspiring dancer, and ongoing gags like Trail Mix - a bit that involves stopping a sketch to read out a gag-worthy list of ingredients.
Over the last year there've been rumours about a TV development deal - the show is, after all, modelled after Lorne Michaels's SNL - but Rideout says they haven't signed anything.
"We want to make sure we get it right, you know? You don't want to end up being...." And here he pauses, significantly. I prod, and he just laughs and says, "Let's just say Air Farce is the best sketch show on TV right now. They're having a renaissance, they're experimenting, opening doors and appealing to a larger demographic."
No comment on the less-than-successful shows.
"If you get your shot and the production values are bad or something else is off, then you're done. When we get our crack, we want to make sure it's done right. I think we're ready in terms of our writing and performance skills. We just have to make other people see it that way, too."
This summer they're doing the Fringe circuit, going to Montreal, doing two shows in Toronto and then travelling to the juried New York Fringe in August.
Penning 100 original shows (the number's actually slightly higher) is a guaranteed way to improve those writing skills.
And Rideout admits coming up with sketches is easier than it was in the early days.
"When you do enough comedy, it starts to become like The Matrix," he laughs. "It's all a series of ones and zeros. It's like a math equation. You say this, add that and it'll be hilarious.
"On the other hand, the great thing about our troupe is that we still surprise each other. We make ourselves laugh. If that didn't happen it'd be hard to do all this."
There's one sketch, though, that you won't see this Sunday, or in the future.
"Dan Galea has pitched this bit for 100 weeks in a row," says Rideout. "It's called Penis Fart. It's not even a sketch. It's just Dan saying the words 'penis fart. '"
Hmmm, maybe shelve it for the 200th show, guys.