A CBC radio comedy series hosted by Steve Patterson, The Debaters sets up two comedians to debate a particular topic and try to be both as funny and persuasive as possible. Often the topics are newsworthy (Canadian military spending), philosophical (Communism vs Democracy), or relate to the filming location (Edmonton vs Calgary), but occasionally the topics are ridiculous or silly (picnics vs barbeques).
Each episode is about thirty minutes long with two fifteen minute debates each featuring two different comedians. The topics rarely have anything to do with one another, but comedians in the second debate have been known to pull jokes from their colleagues in the first. Each debate has four parts, two minutes each to open (usually the "for" side first), then the "bare knuckle round" where debaters can directly question or counter their opponent (and the host/audience), the "firing line" in which the host asks a series of questions on the topics and awards arbitrary points for funny or correct answers, followed by one minute each to close (usually the "against" side first).
Every episode is recorded in front of a live studio audience, with the winner being determined by audience applause. The audience will usually judge a debater on how funny they were, rather than the actual content of the debate, which has led to some interesting verdicts such as the "Against" side winning in a debate about keeping libraries, the "Dawson" side winning in a "Dawson vs Yellowknife" debate that was performed in Yellowknife, and the "For" side winning in a debate arguing that debates themselves are pointless.
Clips of previous episodes, or iTunes purchases of full episodes can be found here (just don't be scared away by Steve Patterson's smile), and a full list of topics debated is available here. In 2011, CBC Television briefly aired a televised version.
The Debaters provides examples of:
- Ad Hominem: Debra Digiovanni, arguing for gossip, had great fun using this against Dave Hemstad who, because he was arguing against gossip, had trouble countering.
- Appeal to Popularity: From Rebecca Kohler's argument against the Canadian flag: there are more Google results for "why are some farts hot?" than for "why the Canada flag is cool."
- Argument of Contradictions: Usually broken up by the host before it gets too long, but once or twice the debater has used it as a tactic to draw Steve into the debate.
- Cool vs. Awesome: Both debaters in the Apes vs Robots decided that regardless of who would be our future overlord, watching them fight about it would be pretty sweet.
- Chewbacca Defense: Often
- Godwin's Law: Used with gusto in the "Libraries" debate to point out that it's possibly to obtain a copy of Mein Kampf from a local library.
- Hitler Ate Sugar: Popular in some of the more philosophical debates. Notable for the fact that, as a Canadian program, the argument will occasionally go along the lines of "Yeah, but it's AMERICAN!" (from the CFL vs NFL debate)
- Lame Pun Reaction: Oh Steve, even you know some of these are bad.Steve: "A chance for our debaters to rattle swords and Shake-speares. *crowd groans* Oh it's going to get worse. Yes we're talking live theatre, so Chekov the main point of your argument, and Mamet down their throat. What are you waiting for? Godot!"
- No, You: Steve Patterson has deducted points for debaters who use this against him in the Firing Line section. They've occasionally won anyway.
- Pungeon Master: Steve Patterson reigns supreme over this:Steve: "It's time now for our debaters to use their Pentium-ed up anger - *crowd groans* - Oh this'll be good. I'm going to love doing this to you people. They'll use their Pentium-ed up anger to hard drive home this debate. We're talking Mac vs PC, so use that chip on your shoulder to take a byte out of your opponent's logic until it gigahertz! You've both got Steve Jobs to do, that's an unfortunate sentence when I look at it, so let's open up the Bill Gates, and boot each other!"
- Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: Briefly in 2011, some episodes produced at the Glenn Gould studio in Toronto were filmed and aired on CBC television.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Real life couple Tim Grey (arguing "For") and Dana Smith (arguing "Against") debated whether or not they should get married, with their families in the audience and an officiate backstage just in case. The debate was rife with wedding tropes including:
- The Maiden Name Debate: Dana's pointed out that switching from "Smith" to "Grey" was going from "Boring" to "Boring and sad".
- Unable to Support a Wife: Another of Dana's arguments was that Tim was so bad at managing his money he's trying to sell CD copies of his comedy show.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: How Steve asked the audience to cheer for the "Against" side. A chunk of the crowd did cheer, however..
- From audience applause, the "For" side won, so Tim and Dana married after the show. Wedding photos were posted on The Debater's Facebook page after the event.
- World of Pun: There's a growing theory that a topic is chosen based on how many puns can be made of it to introduce the comedians and debate sections.Steve: "This is your chance to throw a little Kindle-ing on the fire. Here on The Debaters Dewey Demim-ate Syetem-atically? Yes we do. So let's get bibliotheque-nical on their arses." (Libraries debate)