Rachel Blair. Photo: Tanja-Tizia

A Man Walks Into a Bar

By Rachel Blair

A woman, with the help of a man, nervously sets out to tell us all a joke: A man walks into a bar and meets a waitress.  As the two begin to perform the joke for the audience, lines between the performers and characters blur and a tense and funny standoff about gender, sexuality, and power emerges. Is the customer justified in thinking something will happen between them? Is the waitress justified to lie? Why are some things funny to her and insulting to him? Ownership of the story becomes a competition as the man and woman unpack every word and movement, catching each other out on their assumptions and contradictions as they inch towards the dark and dangerous punchline.

A sharp meta-theatrical two-hander that skewers the dialogue surrounding men, women, and feminism, A Man Walks Into a Bar lays bare modern movements #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen, forcing them under the spotlight of a complicated and sexually-charged bar culture. Fiercely clever and critical, it leaves the audience to continue the debate long after the joke ends.

"A cunning trojan horse of a show"

Post City

"A high bar for the rest of Fringe. It’s irreverent, witty and a lot of fun."

Theatre Reader

"There is a punch-line to A Man Walks Into a Bar. But it’s more like a gut-punch: it hits low, it hits hard, and it hits close to home. And everybody needs to see it."

Mooney on Theatre

"In all of Fringe, this is the play that’s stirred up the most in me; one of those plays where your stomach feels funny and you’re not sure when you leave the theatre whether you’ll ever really be able to put everything you’re thinking and feeling into words. See it. Everyone should see it. And tell me what you think because I feel like no two people will ever react to it exactly the same way."

My Entertainment World

"A brilliant and poignant piece of theatre."

Ottawa Tonite

"A visceral experience...one of the best at Undercurrents."

New Ottawa Critics

"My reaction was visceral and it was apparent that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. If you’ve ever wondered where the pit of your stomach was, A Man Walks Into A Bar is well worth your time. The writing by Rachel Blair is strong; even as the dread hanging over the proceedings becomes heavier, it stays hilarious almost until the end."

Apt613

"There’s no denying Blair is a writer to watch out for."

The Toronto Star

Production Details

1 Male

1 Female

Approximately 60 minutes. No intermission.

By Rachel Blair

February 6, 2011

PAST EVENT: A Man Walks Into a Bar – Amblemore Collective (Halifax, NS) August 30 – September 9, 2018

Production History

 A Man Walks Into a Bar premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival in July 2015. It was directed by David Matheson and featured Blue Bigwood-Mallin and Rachel Blair.

It went on to sold-out runs at the Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto and the Undercurrents Festival in Ottawa, breaking the festival’s box office record.

Named a ‘Favourite Cultural Moment of 2015’ by the Globe and Mail.

Nominated for a Dora Award for Outstanding New Play.

Blue Bigwood-Mallin & Rachel Blair. Photo: Jon Robertson

Original poster design: Joel Cembal

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