Bracket Night Brings Tournament Style Improv Downtown

Last Updated on November 4, 2022 by Jeremy

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If you are a fan of stand-up comedy, odds are good you've taken in a show at Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh. This one features an array of performances ranging from live standup to themed shows run improv style and more.

We were invited to check out one of these shows, aptly named Bracket Night, and got to throw down 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 a timely one, Best Candy, and as they say, there can only be one winner!

Comedian Led, Audience Vote Tournaments at Bracket Night

Bracket Night at Arcade Comedy Theater

As its name suggests, Bracket Night is a tournament-style throwdown 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. Ultimately, two very unlikely topics will make it to the finals, and the comedians get one final sales pitch to help the audience select a winner.

While this one sounds relatively straightforward, the process takes on a few twists from there.

In the first round of Best Candy, for example, comedians were set to only talk about the pros of any given candy. Each of the four comics was assigned a candy and argued the merits one by one until they made it through the Sweet 16 lineup. We feel bad for whoever had to be objective about the Take 5, but alas, they pulled it off rather well with jokes about how if you had to survive a car breakdown in the winter, you would be happy to have a protein-packed Take 5 tucked away.

In the second round, the script was flipped. Here, the comics had to criticize the candies. But as the audience voted on which ones proceed to the next round, the matchups ended up being quite unpredictable.  Suffice it to say, some wonderfully focused trash (candy) talking commenced including some great audience participation remarks about how things like York Peppermint Patties are a “diet candy” to name a few. (I blurted out that means you can eat 10, but no one got on board with that- their loss.)

Another round took a variant of “screw marry kill” for “keep, trade, trash” for the candies as well. Personally, I'll trade all of my Reese's Cups if only because I know Angie will give me whatever I want in return. 

Bracket Night at Arcade Comedy Theater

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Ultimately, after an hour or so of comedy and three rounds of voting, we had our final showdown, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups vs Kit Kat. Angie was lobbying for her personal 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 out and Angie's hopes of helping Reese's win the title for all time were dashed.

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

My bad.

Candy at Arcade Comedy Theater for Best Candy Bracket Night

Ultimately, Bracket Night is a unique improv show, and we really loved how the audience participation factored into this one over more traditional standup. As each tournament is themed, you'll do well to keep an eye out for events around the holidays for timely topics much like our Best Candy show.

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

When it comes down to it, my only regret for Best Candy night was simply that the objectively best candy, Sour Patch Kids, did not make it into the tournament to begin with. In fact, only three sugar-based candies made it into the lineup at all (Blow Pops, Starbursts, and Skittles) and two had to face off with each other in the opening round. Other Halloween classics, like the butt-of-all-jokes candy corn, were sadly missing as well. But as the audience doesn't get to help decide the brackets, I suppose I will have to deal with the true king not getting its time to shine. 

So enjoy your victory Kit Kat. Just be warned that next year, I'm switching my vote to Reese's. That is to say 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 of Bracket Night during our visit. As always, all opinions are our own.

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