Monty Python, Wayne and Shuster, SCTV and Saturday Night Live owe a lot to The Dumbells, who are considered the pioneers of sketch comedy. Formed by members of the Canadian army’s Third Division—and named for the red dumbbell in the Division’s emblem—The Dumbells bolstered troop morale during the First World War with live “concert parties” featuring irreverent humour that often skewered senior officers and the military system itself.
The Dumbells’ popularity was not limited to troop shows along the trenches. These Canadian soldier-entertainers also managed a run in London’s West End, and became the first-ever Canadian production to score a hit on Broadway. Touring the nation for some twelve years after the war, The Dumbells became a household name in Canada.
On March 6, at St. Lawrence Hall, the Town of York Historical Society will present “Soldiers of Song,” a tribute to The Dumbells. This new musical play includes original sketches, storytelling and an “era-appropriate” band performing songs from the WWI era.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.cabinmedia.ca/tickets/tickets/22, or in person at Toronto’s First Post Office, 260 Adelaide Street East, 416-865-1833, firstname.lastname@example.org