Bracket Night brings tournament-style improv to downtown

Last updated on November 4, 2022 by Jeremy

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If you’re a fan of stand-up comedy, chances are you’ve seen a show at the Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh. This features a range of performances from live stand-up to themed shows performed in the style of improv and more.

We were invited to attend one of these shows, aptly named Bracket Night, and were able to engage with other guests in an interactive tournament-style battle focused on a single topic. As we visited for a pre-Halloween show, the theme was topical, Best Candyand as they say, there can only be one winner!

Directed Comedian, Audience Voting Tournaments at Bracket Night

As the name suggests, Bracket Night is a tournament-style tournament where comedians discuss the pros and cons of a given topic, and the audience votes on their favorite to move on to the next round. In the end, two highly unlikely subjects will make it to the finals, and the comedians will get a final sales pitch to help the audience pick a winner.

While this one looks relatively simple, the process takes a few twists and turns from there.

In the first round of Best Candy, for example, comedians had to talk only about the benefits of a given candy. Each of the four comics was assigned a candy and claimed merits one by one until they made it through the Sweet 16 lineup. We feel bad for those who had to be objective about the Take 5, but alas, they did pretty well with jokes that if you were to survive a winter car breakdown, you’d be happy to have a high-protein Take. 5 hidden.

In the second round, the scenario was reversed. Here, the comedians had to criticize the sweets. But as the public voted on who advanced to the next round, the matchups proved to be quite unpredictable. Suffice it to say, wonderfully focused trash (candy) discussions have begun, including some great audience participation remarks about how things like York Peppermint Patties are “diet candy”, to say the least. name a few. (I blurted out that this means you can eat 10, but no one accepted that – their loss.)

Another trick took a variation of “screw marry kill” to “keep, swap, throw away” for candies as well. Personally, I will trade all my Reese cuts, if only because I know Angie will give me all that I want in return.

Bracket Night at the Arcade Comedy Theater

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In the end, after about an hour of comedy and three rounds of voting, we had our final showdown, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups vs. Kit Kat. Angie was pushing for her favorite candy to prevail, and I have to admit, I voted for Kit Kat only to be a spoiler. It was one of the deciding votes as Kit Kat narrowly won and Angie’s hopes of helping Reese win the title forever were dashed.

Naturally, the night ended with a bucket of Halloween candy being handed out, and I took a victorious bite at a Kit Kat bar only to realize that Reese was actually the better choice.

My fault.

Candy at the Arcade Comedy Theater for Best Candy Bracket Night

Ultimately, Bracket Night is a unique improv show, and we absolutely loved how audience participation was considered in this one compared to a more traditional stand-up. As each tournament is themed, you’d do well to keep an eye out for events around the holidays for hot topics, like our Best Candy show.

But perhaps the best part is that Arcade Comedy Theater is simply an affordable performance venue. Bracket Night is only $12 as of our visit, and the venue is BYOB with a very reasonable per person surcharge as well.

In the end, my only regret for Best Candy Night was simply that the objectively best candy, Sour Patch Kids, didn’t make it into the tournament to begin with. In fact, only three sugar candies made it to the lineup (Blow Pops, Starbursts, and Skittles) and two had to go head-to-head in the first round. Other Halloween classics, like candy corn at all jokes, were also missing. But since the audience can’t help decide the parentheses, I guess I’ll have to face the real king who won’t have time to shine.

So enjoy your Kit Kat victory. Just know that next year I’ll change my vote to Reese. That is, unless the real best candy gets its moment.

Arcade Comedy Theater Pittsburgh

Bracket Night is a monthly show at Arcade Comedy Theater at 943 Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. We were guests at Bracket Night when we visited. As always, all opinions are our own.

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