It's a bit of a cliche that nothing "good" happens after 2 AM, but it's also a lie. Take, for example, this glorious brawl at Toronto's most ubiquitous pizza joint chain earlier this week.
It has all the makings of The Perfect Viral Video. There's no context, but no context is needed. There are many punches thrown, but no one seems to get hurt. The fighting mostly involves women, but there's no apparent misogyny, just some bemused boyfriends. It features at least one guy who knows he is in the middle of a viral video and makes a run for the GOAT brawl throne. It features the resigned face of a Pizza Pizza worker who can't be older than 25 and yet looks like he's too old for this shit.
Our story begins in Toronto, Ontario, home to 2 AM last calls and not a lot of great food options to coax off tomorrow's hangover. What we do have here is a Pizza Pizza seemingly near every major intersection that has a bar scene. And when you stuff a bunch of people into a small restaurant all with the same goal (order slice, order dipping sauce, don't get it on your shirt, sleep with the nearest person, accomplish this all within 15 minutes) tensions are going to run high. In pizza joint brawls, no one is to blame, there are no winners or losers, there's just the game.
While this particular brawl took place at Queen and Broadview (Toronto's family-friendly east side) at roughly 3 AM Sunday morning, I would like to think this could happen anywhere. We all have our differences, but when it's 3AM we all want the same things.
As all great videos start, we begin with the orientation on its side and there's the momentary feeling among the user of 'I sat through five seconds of an ad for this shit?' but that feeling passes quickly as the screams draw you in and our videographer gets his shit together.
We have a couple decent moves in the first few seconds. We have two women sliding off the counter, one guy (pay close attention to him) who runs into the fray holding a pizza box, one solid headlock and a thin boyfriend making this face.
At the 20 second mark, we have our first recognizable audio clip over the screams. "My shoe! My shoe!" someone yells, who is either getting his yeezys stomped on or is providing "ironic" colour commentary from the safety of the back.
Have you ever been in a brawl or at least witnessed one? It is a scientific fact that in every single fight involving four or more participants there is one small person who does two things—instigates and punches someone in the back of the noggin.
At the 24 second mark, we meet our Scrappy Underdog. She's five feet in platforms, but she's got spunk and personality and tries her best and knows that someone will pull her out of harm's way before she gets into much trouble.
It's also at this point that I wish we had multiple camera angles of this little shindig because the camera guy can't decide where to focus on as the brawl splits into three separate dustups. Some nonsense is going on and honestly the next 10 seconds are not worth talking about except that we are introduced to one of the other characters in the brawl—The Peacemaker. As I've previously written about in my brawl coverage, every proper brawl has one person who is the middle of it all and truly, deeply, madly wants to break the fight up—while only really making it worse by delaying the inevitable. You wanna peacekeep, let the idiots duke it out and break it up before anyone gets seriously hurt/winded.
"I ended the fight! I ended the fight," she yells over someone else yelling "What the fuck!"
AND MY GOD, HERE COMES SCRAPPY UNDERDOG WITH A CHAIR!
Fortunately, her valet, a bemused dude who definitely came from that nearby "country" bar, puts a stop to the madness before this video takes an ugly turn. I mean, look at that man's happy face. At this point, he's winning this viral brawl video.
Enter area man, stage right. He casually walks into the frame, grabs his plugged in phone and presumably, goes back to his seat to start a live Instagram story with peace of mind that his battery can handle this to the bitter end. He is the Brawl Speculator, he doesn't have to go home so he will stay here. (Also, note our beloved videographer's giggles—dude can barely keep it together and it makes me think about assigning a story on how off-screen giggles and shaky handheld is the new laugh track. Get at me, freelancers.)
At the 1 minute and 15 second point, thin white boyfriend has had enough and realizes he's just keeping the patriarchy afloat by holding his girlfriend back. He's out!
It's the calm of the storm now. All this yelling and tusslin' takes the piss out of our participants and we are now into the part where everyone is just trying to keep their feet. (Most Canadians will recognize this moment as where you think the referees are gonna step in two pull apart a couple of knuckleheads, but no, they have more in the tanks, so just let the boys go and tire themselves out and sit in the box and think about their lives and paycheques.)
"It's over," someone yells.
It is not.
From the east side in barrels The Strongest One, who knocks aside humans like bowling pins. It is glorious but not as glorious as the young woman who is at the counter just trying to get her damn pizza and then just laughs and trots out of the joint to tell the story in the Uber home.
The fight continues on (Oh lord, who has that energy at 3 AM) and we finally get to the moment we needed in this time of Trump, Trudeau's socks and the emo revival. From the ashes of our hope for humanity arises a Hero and it is this guy.
With one arm he bearhugs Scrappy Underdog, who is just outclassed in this showdown, and with the other he acknowledges us, the viewer and embraces our bitter, shitty souls in the warmest of hugs. 'Look the beauty of humanity coming together in drink and grub and meme,' his arm says. He even gives us a Jordan tongue wag as to say 'I am the Greatest,' where a lesser man, in a lesser time, might have yelled 'World Star!'
Our Hero, like a good heroes involving lazy writers, has no backstory and we are not going to get one here. Whether he's a neurosurgeon or a line cook, this is his moment, and unlike most of us, he makes the most of it. Every single second he is in the frame reminds us there is Good in this world and there will always be a viral video for you when you feel like there is nothing but Bad.
That dude is the GOAT, but just when you think this video has enough characters, we get another—the Guy Who Is Too Old for this Shit.
Behind the counter is the real victim in this, our Pizza Pizza cashier. Dude is professional AF, he's seen this song and dance a hundreds times before and he is just bored of it all. Guy is working the counter at 2 AM, at probably not an amazing wage, and he just wants to go home, shower off the pizza smell, watch a little Netflix and sleep the fuck in. But he knows he has a job to do. He has to give drunk people pizza and he's not shutting the place down because a few people stepped on each other's toes, or looked at someone's SO in a funny way, or just was feeling horny and sad and therefore needed to drop the mittens with someone. When politicians talk about about 'the hard-working taxpayers' the are talking about this guy—the guy who deals with assholes all day long but shows them the respect they don't deserve. So you know what you can do the next time you grab a poutine or shawarma after the bar? Leave them a buck or two, you tipped the bartenders all night just so the poor overnight cashier could be the one to clean up your sorry mess.
"It's so good," chimes our cameraman at the 3:26 mark, knowing he has some quality material on hand. (Worth noting the omnipresent CP24 in the background here, given this video went up with an email address for 'licensing.')
It gets a bit mean shortly afterwards as one young lady starts yelling 'Pizza Pizza/Broke Ass Bitches" at her enemies as they retreat, which admittedly is catchy and remixable, but is not necessarily as catchy as '11-11, Pizza Pizza."
With our combatants having left the place, our video comes to the close as it should, with GOAT running around the place collecting praise and fist bumps. "You are my favourite," says someone off-camera like he just met the wacky neighbour in a sitcom.
And then it ends like it should with someone yelling "dipping sauce." And just like dipping sauce at 2 AM, it's perfection.
Now back to…omg, there's a SECOND VIDEO.
Yes, it's an undisclosed period of time later, but using my 10 years of journalism skills, I can tell you it's within a couple minutes, given everyone is sitting at the same tables.
Both sides are back at it and they are brawling in foyay and it's distressingly authentic. And god love her, Scrappy Underdog is STILL trying to get in there. It's worth noting at this point, we are at a minimum—six minutes—into a brawl at the most popular pizza place at major intersection. Where's da cops?
You know that point when you come out the afterparty and the sun is starting to come up and you feel sweaty and dirty and tired. Well, that's what Part 2 of this video is. The fun is over, this is exhausting to even just watch now even when our GOAT comes back for more handshakes and two buddies compete to swoon over him.
"You are the hero of the day," Buddy One says.
"You made my night," Buddy Two says. (Advantage: Buddy Two.)
"Where's our food?" asks another.
So, here's where we come to our coda (there's a third video of the cops fixing this situation up. They charged one person with public intoxication but no one for the fight.)
As reported by Torstar, a witness says this pizza joint line brawl all started when someone started yelling in the middle of the restaurant that their order wasn't ready and jumped over the counter and started throwing chips.
Yes, it appears this brawl started when someone wanted to protect the honour of Pizza Pizza and our noble cashier. That's not a tip, but it's a close second.
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