Review: PUPPY PALS at the Norris Theater

Comedic dog stunt show wows with humor, cuteness, and audience participation

By: Apr. 14, 2024
Review: PUPPY PALS at the Norris Theater
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I first saw Puppy Pals on TV, when the comedic dog show made it to the 2020 Quarter Finals of “America’s Got Talent.” It was, of course, totally adorable, but I remember thinking: What’s it going to do if it wins? How do you take a three-minute dog act and make it a full-length show? 

I know now: You make the show about more than just the dogs. 

Before you balk at that statement — because, I know, the dogs are why you’ve come! — hear me out. Sure, the dog tricks are “Awww”-inducing. But more than that, the 90-minute show, which I saw at the Norris Theatre in Rolling Hills Estates April 13, is actually really funny. 

And not because of the dogs. 

You can thank the host, comedian Kenny Mikey, who carries the show as lovingly as a goofy hound dog guarding his favorite bone. The dogs might be the ones jumping through the hoops here, but he’s the one doing all the work. 

Mikey knows as much as we do that watching dogs jump, flip, and climb won’t work for an hour and a half. People need to be engaged, too. 

Review: PUPPY PALS at the Norris Theater And that’s the magic of Puppy Pals. It’s entertaining — not just because of the impressive lineup of dog tricks (though they are good). 

The show stars three rescued poodles of various sizes. From biggest to smallest, there’s Rudy, a 4-year-old standard poodle, Gizmo, a 3-year-old poodle mix, and Cash,  a 5-year-old toy poodle.  Fun fact: They’re all poodles because the creator of the show, longtime circus performer Wesley Williams, is allergic to dogs. (Williams isn’t hosting the show anymore because he’s currently touring with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus as a unicyclist). Another fun fact: Williams is a Guinness Record-holder for riding the “Tallest Ridable Unicycle (at 31 feet, 10 inches!)

But back to the show: The moment the trio of dogs got on stage, they seemed so genuinely eager to get to work, I wondered whether they’re even fed between shows or if the magical treats inside Mikey’s pocket are a showtime-only indulgence. They were that excited.   

I have dog. He can do a few tricks. 

But he’s no Puppy Pal. 

These dogs are on a whole other level. I mean, Cash drives a car, for dog’s sake. He actually steers it, paws on the steering wheel and everything. He also clambers up a Ninja Warrior-style double ladder and leaps from ledges high enough that you almost feel bad for the little guy. 

Review: PUPPY PALS at the Norris Theater Honestly, if it weren’t so obvious that these dogs are having fun, someone would complain about the show. But there’s no denying it: These pooches are loving every treat-dispensing second. Take it from their tail-wagging, which never, ever stops. 

As for the stunts, you’ll see the dogs leaping over hurdles, racing through obstacle courses, doing backflips, and posing for pictures with a camera-ready focus I couldn’t achieve with my three actual human children (though treats would help). 

It’s not perfect. They’re dogs, after all; they’re bound to be distracted by a dropped treat or a sudden whiff of something yummy. But those moments turn out to be comedy gold, forcing an exasperated Mikey to corral the distracted dogs back to their designated “Seat” (the main platform center stage) all the while trying to talk sense into them as if they understand English (“There are no more treats on the ground, Gizmo. You ate them all, Gizmo. Come on now, Gizmo. Seat! Seat!”)

When the pups need a break, Mikey does tricks with another breed of performer: Audience volunteers. Looking back, watching Mikey teach two kids and a dad how to juggle bowling pins on stage may have been my favorite part of the show. And I’m a dog person. 

Review: PUPPY PALS at the Norris Theater A former improv artist and Ringling Brothers clown, Mikey is a natural on stage. He’s clearly comfortable ad-libbing his way through some scenes — a skill that’s a necessity when your costars may at any minute leap offstage to grab a dropped Cheeto. 

He’s almost more fun to watch than the dogs.  Almost. 

But let’s be honest: We came here for the dogs — and they don’t disappoint. And ultimately, the people who wouldn’t like Puppy Pals wouldn’t buy a ticket to Puppy Pals in the first place. You get what you expect… and a little bit more.  

To find out more about Puppy Pals, go to

Photos courtesy of Puppy Pals. 


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