Elvi and I watched a lot of comedy tonight and our biggest laugh came, ultimately, not from a writer but from an actor.

The second season of “The Tournament” has been workmanlike comedy: good enough to watch, but not as inspiring as the original stretch of episodes. This year’s season has gotten better as it’s gone on, however, and tonight’s episode 9 was easily the best of the lot.

The introduction of Barry McConnell’s dad was a genius tactic. The guy was scary enough to have an effect on Barry, but was multidimensional enough to feel real. He wasn’t the cartoon that Hank Hill’s dad is. If Robbie wants to dance, let him dance, this mean dad says. And he does teach Barry a thing or two about keeping your lady happy.

That’s all fine. So is the admiration and pity that Barry’s hockey buddies – yes, even Singh – throw his way when they meet his dad.

But our biggest laugh came from pure acting. You can’t write “Barry’s face expresses disgust, despair, and ‘I should’ve seen this coming’ all at once.” Well, you can – but unless you have an Alain Goulem to play it, it’s not going to mean squat.

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