The Debaters

The Debaters

Photo taken from a taping of The Debaters at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, with Sean Cullen (in the centre) as host.
Genre Comedy, Panel Game Show
Running time 30 minutes
Country Canada
Language(s) English
Home station CBC Radio One
CBC Television
Starring Steve Patterson
Created by Richard Side
Recording studio Various live venues across Canada
Air dates since September 2006 (CBC Radio One)
2011 (CBC Television)
Website The Debaters

The Debaters is a Canadian radio comedy show hosted by Steve Patterson. It airs on CBC Radio One Saturdays at 1:30PM and Wednesdays at 11:30AM (both Eastern time, half an hour later in Newfoundland).

During each episode, two debates take place between two sets of two contestants. The topics are deliberately comedic, including "Apples are better than oranges" and "Darth Vader was a bad father". The winner is chosen by audience reaction at the end of the debate.


The show was first broadcast in September 2006, replacing the long-running comedy show Madly Off in All Directions. The show was created by Richard Side. It is produced by Phillip Ditchburn, Anna Bonokoski and Richard Side.

Each season has approximately 33 new episodes. These are recorded in front of live audiences in studios, theatres and clubs across Canada.

While the show is known officially in CBC listings as The Debaters, during the third broadcast the show was instead introduced as Master Debaters. Ever since then the show has reverted to its original, officially sanctioned name.

The host of the first season was Shaun Majumder. The second season featured a succession of guest hosts, including Sean Cullen, Elvira Kurt, Patrick McKenna and Roman Danylo. As of the third season the regular host of the show is Steve Patterson.

Performers who have appeared on the show include Irwin Barker, Ian Boothby, Sean Cullen, Charles Demers, Gary Jones, Deborah Kimmett, Andy Kindler, Marc Maron, Patrick McKenna, Mark Meer, Darcy Michael, Greg Proops, Lara Rae, Simon Rakoff, Dan Redican, Derek Seguin, Erica Sigurdson, Ron Sparks, Scott Thompson and Mary Walsh.

In 2011, the series also taped a number of episodes for broadcast as a television series on CBC Television, but did not get a second season.


Each show is 30 minutes in length, and consists of two 15-minute debates. Two stand-up comedians are given a topical and sometimes complex matter to debate. One serves as advocate: the other takes the contrary view. The live audience ultimately decides who won the debate, based on a mix of "funny and fact", by applauding for the performer they thought did the best job. The comedian that gets the loudest round of applause wins.

There are four rounds to each debate: the first allows the comedian to state their position on the issue, which is followed by the "bare-knuckle round" where the two debaters spar with each other directly. This is followed by the "firing line" round where the host quizzes the debaters on their knowledge of the subject (where they can either provide the correct or most amusing answer), concluded by a one-minute summation. The live audience then votes by applauding for who they thought had the best combination of "laughs and logic".


See full list of radio episodes.


The "Monotheism vs. Polytheism" debate featuring Ron Sparks and Sean Cullen won the 2010 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Program or Clip.[1]

The "William Shatner is Canada's Greatest Actor" debate featuring Cullen and Eric Peterson also won the same award, in 2015. That episode is also one of the only double length debates (just one debate for the entire episode).

The show has also received several other Canadian Comedy Award nominations for both the radio and television series.

See also


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