Funnyman Steve Patterson (centre) will play referee while comedians Graham Chittenden and DeAnne Smith trade zingers in The Debaters Holiday Special at the Port Theatre on Nov. 18. (Photos courtesy Paul Smith/John Hryniuk/Supplied)

The Debaters Holiday Special Tour kicks off at the Port Theatre

Host Steve Patterson to moderate debate between comics Graham Chittenden and DeAnne Smith

With the holiday season already starting to rear its head, comedian Steve Patterson is giving audiences across the country an early dose of the family dinner table argument experience.

“You might as well see how professional comedians do it,” he said.

Patterson, host of the CBC radio program The Debaters, in which comedians take opposing sides of an argument and the audience chooses a winner, is taking that show on the road with comics Graham Chittenden and DeAnne Smith starting at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Nov. 18.

It’s Patterson’s first visit back since hosting the Nanaimo Child Development Centre’s Comedy for a Cause fundraiser this spring. He said the first show in a tour is always special and “without having to pander too much, yes, this show is going to be the one I look forward to the most I can honestly say.”

“With all due respect to the other shows on the tour, who I hope don’t see this, this is the one I look forward to the most because the first one, you’re kicking it off,” he said. “We really don’t know what’s going to work and what isn’t and that’s when The Debaters is at its best.”

Because the trio will be spending so much time together on and off stage during the tour, Patterson said it’s “as close as we get to being in a band.” He said that makes it important to pick comedians who get along and hear each other out.

“You want people that are going to not jump on each other’s lines,” Patterson said. “I don’t think we could have toured with the federal leader candidates because they didn’t seem to know that during the debates.”

Patterson said Chittenden is one of his favourite Debaters and he’s known Smith since she got her start in Montreal.

“[Smith] can say a lot of things that a lot of comics I don’t think could say and get away with because she’s so darn endearing about it,” he said.

Patterson said Chittenden is embracing aging.

“He’s kind of a senior citizen trapped in a 30-year-old man’s body, so he sees all the goodness that other comedians make fun of about getting older,” he said.

Unlike the made-for-broadcast version of The Debaters, Patterson said the performances on their Holiday Special Tour won’t be recorded for posterity. They will only exist for the time Chittenden, Patterson and Smith are onstage.

“When people ask me, ‘Why should I go to a live show as opposed to just listening to the podcast?’ I say, ‘Well, a lot of things happen during the live taping that you don’t hear on radio or on the podcast,’” Patterson said. “Well, this time everything that happens you won’t hear because we’re not recording anything. So this is really a show that you have to be there to experience.”

WHAT’S ON … The Debaters Holiday Special comes to the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $41.50 to $61.50, available at the box office.

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