Alright Kiddies, it’s time to lace up your boots and get your hair all spikey, ‘cuz the punk show is coming. 77 Montréal is back for its sophomore season, and it’s bringing bands spanning 40 years, two continents, and four countries to celebrate the history of punk music and culture in our badass belle ville.

Rise Against is headlining, along with AFI, and Suicidal Tendencies (Get Your Fight On! is out now), but the whole lineup is a veritable Who’s Who.

Reuniting in 2015, OG riot grrrls/nineties icons L7 released their first new music in 18 whole years last year, teasing a 2019 album. The singles, Dispatch From Mar-a-Lago and I Came Back to Bitch make it clear that they’re still ah-mazing and political, so whether you’re feeling nostalgic, or looking to be cutting edge, this one’s special.

From the eighties, there’s Sweden’s Satanic Surfers who got the band back together after an eight year break for 2015’s Amnesia Rockfest, and have been rocking since, while NYC’s Sick of It All haven’t stopped since 1986, so why the hell would they now?

You know that punk cover of that non-punk song that you dig so hard? It’s by Me First and The Gimmie Gimmies, and they’ll def be bringing sing alongs to this party.

I had no idea that hardcore pioneers DOA were Canadian, but they are, and that’s awesome! From Vancouver in 1978, all the way to their 2018 release Fight Back, they’ll be closing out the night with decades of bangers.

And while they’re repping our West Coast, The Planet Smashers, Les Fucking Raymonds, and Pussy Stench will be showing off Quebec’s skills.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s The Rezillos have been together longer since they reunited in 2001 than their original 1976-1987 stint, but they still deserve the old school cred. They, as well as The Interrupters, are scheduled to make me wish I wore my crinoline, so catch me doing my best Daisy Duck dance by these stages.

I’ve got a Spotify list going, so you can really plan your day!


But wait, my Hardcore Hotties, there’s more than just music!

There’s a vinyl booth promising new, used, and rarities, along with a concert poster gallery showcasing some of Montreal’s rock history, with prints for sale. I’m betting they’ll have some of the goodies featured on the Mtl ‘77 You Are the Scene Archive, which is a trip all by itself. There you can find a poster for when the Dead Kennedys played The Spectrum, with tickets on sale at Dutchy’s, and pics from when Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Blondie played for a whopping $6.50 a head.

In that vein, films and documentaries on punk history will be played on site throughout the day, making it a full throttled cultural immersion.

This is the first Parc Jean-Drapeau event with a straw ban, but beer sucks with a straw, so whatevs. Reusable water bottles are being encouraged, with free refill stations to keep us hydrated, which is awesome, as paying for water is decidedly not punk.

All this bang is a seriously reasonable $70, and for the rockers who just can’t get enough, you can combine it with Heavy Mtl for $210, and really call it a season.

See you there.

* 77 Montréal is July 27 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Tickets available through 77Montreal.com

When it comes to Tom Green, “expect the unexpected” is pretty much a given. Still, nothing could prepare me for the star of Freddy Got Fingered reciting all the Prime Ministers of Canada since Confederation in order.

But that’s exactly what he did at the end of our phone interview plugging his one-night only show at Just for Laughs. He got it right, too (yes, Wikipedia and I fact-checked Tom Green) and would have done the US Presidents, too, if it wasn’t time for him to move on to his next interview.

Green said that this history lesson will be part of his one night only show at Just for Laughs. Last time I caught him perform, modern US politics were center stage, too, as it happened in the lead-up to the last US Presidential Election. This time around, though, don’t expect him to focus on the current state of US politics.

“I don’t like my audience to think they are coming out to hear somebody preaching against Donald Trump for two hours,” he said, “because that’s not really what my show is about.”

Green feels that politics are all anyone is talking about in the States these days, including him, so while he does do a few minutes on the topic, he focuses more on “social issues and talking about the absurdity of life in today’s world, all of the things that aren’t directly associated with politics but are still kind of interconnected with them.”

Green has been performing stand-up since he was 15, with a break to get famous on MTV and in movies. For the past decade, though, he has been making live audiences laugh pretty much full time.

While he always has old and new material in his head and a tentative plan for the show, it’s never set in stone. He edits his show in his head depending on where the crowd wants him to go.

“When I do a joke that may be a little, let’s say, outrageous and if I feel that the audience loves that sort of outrageous commentary, maybe I’ll do a few more jokes like that,” he noted, “but if they’re getting tired of a certain type of subject matter, I’ll know maybe before they do and switch.”

While Green admits that many comics employ improv and audience work like him, what sets him apart are the different energy levels he brings to a show.

“It’s not just about the material,” he said, “it’s about how I’m saying the joke, the speed that I’m going. I’ll literally have nights where I’m doing standup and I’ll realize that this crowd wants me to be more weird, so I’ll change my personality on stage. Then there are some nights I’ll be performing in Las Vegas where I’ll notice the crowd wants me to be a bit more normal.”

But did all those TV stunts Green pulled off with people on the street influence his approach to stand-up?

“It’s almost in reverse,” he said, “people forget that I did stand-up for several years before I started The Tom Green Show. They don’t really necessarily realize that all that stuff on the street, that was rooted in stand-up. The rhythm of me walking down the street with a hand-held microphone talking to people on the street kinda came from me doing stand-up in a comedy club and talking to people in the crowd.”

Green does admit that they definitely both have influence on each other as he has brought his years of trying to pull comedy out of people on the street to the stand-up stage. He even tells people interested in his live show that only know him from TV and movies:

“It’s kind of like those bits I do on the street, except it’s happening live with people in the front row.”

Having seen him perform live once, I can attest to that. This time, though, the people in the front rows should probably brush up on their Canadian and American history.

* Tom Green: One Night Only, part of the 2018 Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, is Wednesday, July 25, 9:30pm at Maison Théâtre, 245 Ontario Est. Tickets available through hahaha.com

Francisco Ramos is a newcomer to Just for Laughs. A Venezuelan who moved to the United States in his teens, he has a unique perspective on what it’s like south of the border for immigrants, something that is prominent in his comedy and which has surprisingly remained constant even in the current political climate.

“I thought it was going to be more especially when Trump became President,” Ramos said in a phone interview, “but it hasn’t. It’s kind of been the same in terms of stereotypes that people have not for Venezuelans but for Latinos in general. I still use it to get my comedy out there and get the stereotypes out.”

Ramos, who will be performing in this year’s JFL Ethnic Show, doesn’t feel that American comedians, in particular those from visible minority backgrounds, have an obligation to address the current state of US politics. He has noted, however, that he never experienced racism or discrimination in Venezuela, but has since he arrived in the US.

“I think that when you’re an ethnic comic, especially in the States, and I know a lot of them, we don’t talk about it because we need to or we have to,” he observed, “ it’s stuff that has happened to us and we have some kind of experience and then we talk about it.”

While Ramos’ comedy does touch on politics, it’s not the main point.

“For me the main thing is to always be funny, he commented, “I’m not going to talk about anything that’s not funny. I do hit it but I don’t go so direct to it. I will be talking about it but it’s give them the funny first. I also don’t try to divide people. Everybody’s got their own beliefs and I try and respect that. I will tell my point of view, but in a funny way.”

One thing that does come out quite a bit in his comedy, and surely will at The Ethnic Show, is the all too common misconception in the states that Latino means Mexican.

“I mean I get it,” Ramos observed, “because the majority of Latinos in the US are Mexican. If that’s what you grow up with, that’s what you think everybody is. For me I’m trying to go ‘yeah, there’s Mexicans, those are Venezuelans, those are Colombians and we’re similar but we also have our differences’. I try to take it as a whole as hit on those universal things that I can do with my comedy. If I hit that, more people will be interested in seeing me and hearing more about the other stories they haven’t heard of.”

Ramos majored in the admittedly un-funny fields of Finance and International Business and started working at an investment firm after college. Then, after what he describes as a “quarter-life crisis” he moved to LA to do standup.

This journey has led him to the JFL stage for the first time. He is thrilled to be here, and when asked about the current state of US-Canada relations:

“I’d say, well now you feel how we feel. I’d say to Canada ‘keep doing what you do’ because you’re doing a great job with your prime minister and everything.”

* Francisco Ramos performs as part of The Ethnic Show in the Just for Laughs Festival starting Wednesday, July 11. Tickets available through hahaha.com

It’s festival season in Montreal and FTB is ready for it. Once again, we will be covering Just for Laughs, the world’s largest comedy festival, now under the stewardship of Howie Mandel among others after founder Gilbert Rozon was forced to step down after several women accused him of sexual assault and harassment.

The festival released a new anti-harassment policy today. While  they promise a better environment behind the scenes, they certainly seem to be staying the (successful) course on stage.

There are the big names like Trevor Noah, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, David Cross, Tiffany Haddish, William H. Macy (I had no idea he did standup) and the aforementioned Mandel. There are also the up-and-coming comics and eternally solid comedians populating the OFF-JFL stages. Festival staples like The Nasty Show and The Ethnic Show are back, too.

Our four-person coverage team is off and running even before the festival kicks off. In the next few days, expect to read Samantha Gold’s interview with Francisco Ramos performing at The Ethnic Show, Ellana Blacher’s conversation with The Nasty Show’s Ms. Pat and my Canadian History lesson from none other than Tom Green. Hannah Besseau will round out our pre-festival coverage with some audio interviews.

Then the real fun begins!

Just for Laughs runs July 11-29. Check hahaha.com for the complete schedule and to purchase tickets and check FTB for our coverage!

Apocalipsync is the kind of play you go to when you don’t want to think or worry. You just want to enjoy.

A collaborative effort by House of Laureen, a self-professed drag family, the title is self explanatory. Set in the year 2024 where corporate greed and the political left’s obsession with safe spaces resulted in the apocalypse, the show’s three main queens, Uma Gahd, Dot Dot Dot, and Anaconda LaSabrosa, are trying to salvage what’s left and unite humanity.

When I asked Uma Gahd what message audiences should take away from this play, this was her reply:

“I think just that with what’s happened in Ontario right now, it couldn’t have been better timing for a horrible thing to happen because my character represents the kind of thinking that got people into office. If you look at Doug Ford, he doesn’t have a platform! He didn’t have a projected financial plan or anything but his personality or one little thing that he put up that was just scary enough, got people to vote for him…Watch out for the people who aren’t saying things… Listen to the people who aren’t saying anything and BE WARY!”

Unfortunately the message House of Laureen wanted to convey in the play is a bit lost in all the kitsch and drama, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not everyone wants to see a play that’s too political, and the post-apocalyptic drag costumes and well choreographed lip syncs makes this easier to watch for anyone wanting a break from the abysmally depressing current events in the United States and Canada.

The show’s queens each represent a political viewpoint.

Dot Dot Dot represents the far left, obsessed with recycling human waste via composting toilets, something Dot herself is personally obsessed with. In the play it makes for great comic relief as human waste in this world is highly toxic.

Uma Gahd represents the far right, someone obsessed with human comfort via shelters that actually give you some privacy. As Gahd told me in a post show interview, her character is all about maintaining and her costume was designed to show just that. She’s the only queen who is wearing stiletto heels and a corset throughout the entire play along with a full-length skirt that – by her own admission – she was constantly tripping on.

Anaconda LaSabrosa, a big beautiful bearded queen, represents anarchy. Though her character seems to play dumb, she has the most complex thoughts of any in the play.

The song choices in the play are perhaps the best insights into the characters. Anaconda’s lip sync of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball fits the anarchist platform of political destruction. Uma Gahd’s lip sync of Makeup by Amanda Blank conveys the character’s obsession with maintaining appearances, while Dot Dot Dot’s lip sync of Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves displays the obnoxious optimism of her far-left character.

The show is narrated by Peaches LePage, resplendent in pale makeup, lizard hands, and traffic cone boobs. She adds that extra bit of snark and worldly wisdom while managing to seem politically neutral during her brief appearances.

The play’s main flaw was an issue with sound. It was too loud and pitchy, making the audio of the queens’ thoughts as they sat by a fire a little hard to distinguish from the announcements of the world’s leaders via radio. Hopefully they’ll fix the issue for future performances.

That said, fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race may be a little disappointed with what they see. As Director Noah Gahd and the cast told me, most drag queens cannot afford the thousand-dollar dresses and wigs that you see among the contestants on the show. As Peaches LePage wisely said during the interview:

“If you’re not going into massive amounts of debt, you’re not doing drag,”

The costumes in the play are homemade by the cast and it shows. While they do give that post-apocalyptic feel, they maintain the glamour the genre requires. It’s a demonstration of their DIY skills that they’re all beautiful to look at despite limited budgets.

If you want to have a bit of fun and take a break from all the politics in the air and immerse yourself in a world of glitter and catchy tunes, check out Apocalipsync. It’s fun!

Apocalipsync: Humanity is a Drag has two performances left, tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Tickets available through MontrealFringe.ca

Aaaahh, June in Montreal. The time when you can’t walk around any part of the city without running into a local show or even a full-blown festival. There’s so much going on, we can’t possibly whittle it down to just a few listings, but that’s exactly what we’ve done, so let’s get started:

Folk Fest on the Canal

There are three things that make this festival stand out:

  1. It’s called the Folk Fest and the lineup is largely, wait for it…folk music. Sure, there are some acts that verge into somewhat less folky territory, like this year’s indie rock headliners Plants and Animals, but there is always a clear line back to folk. In a town where the (anything but) Jazz Fest reigns, it’s a refreshing change.
  2. It’s community-oriented and clean. It takes place entirely in the Sud Ouest Borough and mostly along the banks of the Lachine Canal. Also, the port-o-johns are spotless and so are the festival grounds. Like Osheaga but with people picking up after themselves.
  3. It’s Free! While donations are encouraged and there is a VIP area this year you can buy into, access to the festival and its three stages is free.

You have three options to head on down to the Canal and catch some tunes in the great outdoors. It’s a folk-ing great time!

 

Montreal Folk Fest runs June 15, 16 and 17. For complete schedule visit MontrealFolkFest.com

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores

We’ve mentioned Naghmeh and the Southern Shores in this column before, but you can never get enough of this local band’s blend of Persian melodies with rock and folk and notably interesting lyrics. They’re playing again tonight, this time at Grumpy’s, so check them out in a very intimate though always rocking space.

Naghmeh and the Southern Shores perform at Grumpy’s, 1242 Bishop, Friday, June 15, 10pm. FREE

Queer Songbook Orchestra

On Tuesday, the Queer Songbook Orchestra will take the audience at Sala Rossa on a musical journey through the last century of uplifting queer narratives in popular music. It’s their mission to celebrate and perform obscured LGBTQ2S historical narratives, as well as tell the personal stories of members of the community and the songs connected to them.

Guest vocalists Safia Nolin and Beverly Glenn Copeland as well as storytellers Louis Negin and Gabe Maharjan will join the Toronto-based 12-piece chamber pop ensemble on stage. This event is part of the Suomi Per Il Popolo Festival.

Queer Songbook Orchestra perfrorm with Darren Creech as part of Suoni per il Popolo at Sala Rossa, 4848 St-Laurent, Tuesday, June 19, 8pm. Tickets are $10 and available through lfttckt.com

Dennis Ellsworth

PEI native Dennis Ellsworth has been making music for over 20 years. He describes his sound over those decades as “dark, smooth, romantic alt-country-ish type songs” but he felt like he needed a change with his latest album, the aptly titled Things Change, produced by Joel Plaskett of The Emergency.

Here’s some of his latest sound:

Dennis Ellsworth performs with Esther Hazy and The Pangs at Barfly, 4062A St-Laurent, Tuesday, June 19, 9pm. $10 at the door

* Featured image via Queer Songbook Orchestra

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

I should say right off the bat that I wasn’t expecting much when I went to see Brave New Productions’ Buyer & Cellar at Montreal Fringe. Though the show was a hit at Montreal Pride last year, the whole idea of a one-man show struck me as egotistical and pretentious. I am very happy to say that this play and its star, Donald Rees, proved me wrong.

The show is about a gay aspiring actor who, having recently been fired from Disneyland in LA, finds himself hired to work as the only clerk in the mock shopping mall of Barbra Streisand’s cellar.

When I asked Rees what audiences should expect, this was his reply:

“Expect to see me sweat and eventually lose my voice. I’m (half) kidding. Buyer & Cellar feels like story time with an old friend. It’s a fast-paced and funny show that mixes an energetic theatrical performance with elements of stand-up comedy.”

And he was right. Amidst show tunes and impressions of Streisand that were at once funny and deferential, there was a delicious amount of charm, snark, and humour. You don’t feel like an audience member at this play, but rather someone who is letting a new friend tell their life story.

The only flaw I could find in the play was with regards to the language. The hero’s boyfriend, Barry, is Jewish, as is Streisand, so there are a lot of Yiddish words that may be lost to audience members unfamiliar with Jews and Ashkenazi slang.

I mean, one could always look the words up on their phones, but using your phone during a theatrical performance is just plain rude. Brave New Productions would be wise to include a Yiddish glossary in the show programs for future performances.

To go further into detail about the show would be to spoil it, and I think that if you love storytelling and aren’t homophobic, you should see this play; it’s delightful. Instead, I’m going to treat you to the chat I had with Donald Rees about the play itself, what brought him to it, and what to expect in the future:

What drew you to this play?

I read the script about five years ago, and even though I knew nothing about Barbra Streisand (for example, I had no idea she removed the middle A from her first name), I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The script itself is wonderful and has elements of stand-up comedy, which I love.

Is it more of a challenge playing a one-man show? What do you feel the differences are as a performer?

I think, between the first run and these encore performances, I’d forgotten just what a challenge the show was. On the one side, in terms of text memorization, it’s an incredible volume to commit to memory.

I won’t lie. Every once in a while the audience cracks me up and I’ll lose my spot. So far, I haven’t had to reach for the script to get back on track, but it’s backstage just in case.

The real challenge is energy. There’s no break. It’s over an hour of my energy mixing with the audiences’ reaction. Near the end, it starts to feel like a marathon.

At the Fringe, the added challenge is our limited time slot, so we have to push the pace a little harder. With that, the challenge is still to make sure that the laughs still land and the emotional parts still have time to sit and resonate.

Why do you think Buyer & Cellar was such a hit last year?

That’s a great question. I know we were up against a show which was basically naked men singing cabaret songs, which clearly has naked men and songs (I’m a big fan of both those things) and then we were up against RuPauls’ Drag Race show (also a fan), but luckily people still came out to see the show.

I think it may come down to the fact that it’s good old-fashioned theatre and that really speaks to people these days. It’s not complicated, it’s not convoluted. It’s also not politically charged, which is maybe refreshing these days.

What do you feel resonates most with audiences?

Laughter feels so good to the soul and this show is filled with moments of laughter. It’s nice to just sit down for story time. In the end, it’s so wonderfully written, and brings up some wonderful themes we can all relate to.

The play addresses issues of employment, the price of fame and more. What do you think the most important issue addressed in the play is?

Barbra has a lot of stuff. Who doesn’t? But what happens when you start to value stuff more than people? Without revealing too much about the ending, it really comes down a loving reminder to appreciate the people who matter in our lives.

Will the play run only during Fringe, or do you anticipate appearing at Pride 2018 as well?

For now, the plan is for this to be the final run. When it comes to comedies, I’d rather do less performances with fuller audiences, not for any reason other than people feel more comfortable laughing at a busy show, so it’s a win-win for all.

But I’m excited to tell you that we are preparing something very special for Pride this year. We had such a great experience with Fierté in 2017. This year we are returning with the Canadian Premiere of Gently Down The Stream by Martin Sherman.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a show. It’s a powerful piece of theatre that explores LGBTQ history, but has this beautiful hope and energy to it. The performances are astounding and humbling to me. We’ll be sharing more details about that after the run of Buyer & Cellar.

* Buyer & Cellar runs until June 16th as part of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Tickets available through MontrealFringe.ca

If there’s one play that truly embodies the spirit of diversity and creativity of the Montreal Fringe Festival, Glam Gam Productions‘ Greasy: A Lesbian Love Story is it. If you’re open minded and want to laugh yourself silly, this play is a sure bet.

Greasy is not for everyone.

If you’re a prude who takes offense to nudity and simulated sex acts, don’t come to this play. If you’re homophobic, do not come to this play. If the idea of people being open and free about their sexuality makes you angry, do not come to this play. If you’re the type to have a social media tantrum about a few Catholic school jokes, stay away.

Inspired by the musical play Grease, Greasy is a racier, raunchier, funnier, gayer spoof with all the right jokes in all the right places.

The play starts with Winter, a cute blonde lesbian played by Magenta Haze, whom nine months earlier had rolled around in the snow with Dani, played by the amazing Phoenix Wood. Like in the original play, the sweet naïve Winter finds herself at the same all-girl Catholic high school with her old flame, who shrugs her off to impress her clique of butch dykes.

Many of the character names in the play are riffs on the names in the original. Rizzo becomes Jizzo, Danny Zuko becomes Dani Fuko, Kennickie becomes Kink-Nikki, and the Pink Ladies become the Pink Tacos.

This play is a treat because no topic is off limits. Queer identity, drag culture, gender roles, polyamory, and even mental illness, academic stress, and school debt are all addressed in the piece. What particularly sets Greasy apart from the original, however, is how thoroughly the other characters are developed.

The original Grease revolved around the romance between Danny Zuko and Sandy, giving it an almost nauseatingly sentimental note while leaving the other characters’ storylines superficial. In Greasy all the characters are given a voice and a story to tell, whether it’s Frenchie’s struggles to get into med school, Jizzo’s conflicted sexuality and her romance with Kink-Nikki, or Rummy and Slutzy – played by the hilarious Booze Crotch and her puppet Slutzy – and their struggles with mental illness and love for Tarty.

Even gay male identity is addressed through the play’s two drag queens, Cha Cha and Ta Ta, played by the beautiful Lez Izmohr and Spoopy Patootie, respectively. We also get this through Prince LaFontaine, played by Micheal J. McCarthy, whose outfits consisting of the tackiest suits I’ve ever seen, trumped even the most beautiful drag costumes in the play.

The show has the added benefit of promoting body positivity via its numerous burlesque performances. Few in the play fit the Hollywood ideal of an anorexically thin body and big boobs, but all who took their clothes off for the audience made it sexy through artful shimmies and shakes and the sensuous removal of their outer costumes revealing glittery pasties and thongs.

Even if you’re not a fan of musicals, you may want to give this play a shot. All the singers and band members are talented and never miss a beat even when the venue’s sound system screws up.

This play shocked me in many ways, but awed me in more. If you want to laugh and cheer and dance in your seat, check out Greasy. It’s worth it.

* Greasy: A Lesbian Love Story runs until June 16 as part of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. Tickets available through MontrealFringe.ca

* Featured image via GlamGam.com

Montreal Fringe is one of those events that truly has something for every theatre go-er. You like burlesque? They have shows for that. You love drag queens and drag kings? There are shows for that too. You want drama? Comedy? Something different? Fringe has got you covered. If you’re willing to look, you’re bound to find many diamonds in the rough.

The Montreal Fringe Festival prides itself on creativity, diversity, and accessibility so even the shows that producers consider unsellable get a shot at stardom by having a chance to take the festival stage. One of the best ways to sample local talent is to take in the Fringe for All event that happens the first night of every festival.

For up to two minutes, all the local performers get a shot at enticing attendees to come to their plays. It’s a slog, but for your stamina you see a lot of gems hidden among snippets that confirm people’s worst prejudices about independent theatre – that it’s pretentious, artsy, and consisting of symbolism lost on even the university educated.

I’m not going to bore you with those. Having witnessed bits of shows that look REALLY good, I’m going tell you MY picks for Montreal Fringe 2018:

Apocalipsync : Humanity Is a Drag

I should admit right off that bat that I LOVE drag, so the show intrigued me before I saw their bit. When they took the stage I was not disappointed. Their lip sync and choreography was immaculate as was the glam the genre requires.

The premise of the show is that – “CONSERVATIVES REJOICE!” – the left ended the world and the “Social Justice Road Warriors” played by drag queens Uma Gahd, Dot Dot Dot, and Anaconda are searching for humanity’s salvation. If you’re a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you NEED to see this show.

Greasy: A Lesbian Love Story

True to the title, the show is riff on the classic musical play Grease but with a much naughtier touch. There isn’t just dancing, there’s riveting burlesque performances proving that you don’t need to be a busty toothpick to be sexy.

Also, this is the latest offering from Glam Gam Productions who produced Peter Pansexual, which set Montreal Fringe box office records last year and a group we at FTB have been following for a while.

Mid Knight

Mid Knight is a modern fairy tale about what would happen to Little (Prince) Charming if his parents got divorced. The snippet I saw featured a piñata with the word “childhood” on it getting smashed to bits by the show’s prince with a blunt sword. The audience got any candy that came out. It’s an interesting approach to the classic fairy tale that’s timely given the renewed public interest in medieval themes due to shows like Game of Thrones and Once Upon a Time.

CLIO: Puppets, Not Patriarchy

If you’re a heterosexual male who doesn’t believe in making sure your sex partners are satisfied in bed, this isn’t the show for you. It’s a puppet show about Clio, a clitoris on a journey of self discovery to find out what she is capable of, thus becoming “cliterate”.

The snippet I saw was funny and sweet so while I don’t typically go for shows about one body part, this looks intriguing, if only to marvel at how the puppeteer keeps a straight face through the performance.

What the Hell Happened to My Patio Furniture?!

I’m not normally a fan of one-man shows, but Joshua Budman’s two-minute performance in which he wonders how his patio chairs disappeared from his sixteenth-floor balcony to the song Dust in the Wind had me laughing so hard it looks like a sure thing.

#ashtag

This is an interactive show in which audience members are invited to participate using their cell-phones. It’s a format I’ve never seen before in theatre and it featured a male and female actor with perfectly synchronised dialogue. It’s worth checking out if you like high tech audience participation

Mme Brulé

Mme Brulé starring Evelyne Laniel is a French language play that embodies the frustrations of formerly idealist teachers everywhere. The snippet I saw was hilarious and heartwarming, making me want to laugh and cheer. If you have any teachers in your life, bring them to this show.

Drunk Live Reading: Bridesmaids

If you were a fan of the film, you need to check this out. Featuring Montreal’s own Cat Lemieux who co-hosted the Fringe for All with Kenny Streule and Dayane Nbaritukure, all proceeds of the event go to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. Not only is that an amazing cause, but Lemieux’s snippet channeled Melissa McCarthy and the late Chris Farley in way that was hilarious and riveting, making this show a sure bet.

Les Aventures d’Humphrey Beauregret

Philippe Gobeille’s one-man puppet show surprised me. His puppet “Humphrey Beauregret” is a 1940s style P.I. reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart’s classic roles. Not only does the character tell stories, he sings songs such as Unbreak My Heart and All By Myself channeling the trope’s loneliness and taking it to amusing extremes. It was riveting and funny and a good sample of what’s to come in his show.

Montreal Fringe is on from May 28th to June 17th. As festival spokesperson and Fringe veteran Véronique Raymond declared in her opening speech: “It’s the only time when Francophone and Anglophone artists share the same stage.”

Check it out. It’s worth it.

The full schedule is at MontrealFringe.ca and look for our reviews over the next few weeks

A special weekend awaits you in NDG as the the neighbourhood known for its shady peaceful streets and green sprawl once again hosts Porchfest.

Porches, front lawns and even rooftops transform into stages where local musicians play music and everyone is invited to share in the experience. The informal setting has proven to be quite a hit and the festival has attracted a ton of spectators since its first edition in 2015 due to its original concept.

Here are just a few of the acts you should check out today and tomorrow:

* (Please Note: After this article was written, rain became a real possibility and Porchfest announced that most of their Saturday shows may be moved to Monday, so please consult their site and Facebook page for schedule updates)

Skidoos Jaunes

Professional cover band Skidoos Jaunes will rock out with some well known tunes. The five-piece has been playing together for years. They usually do rock covers but they will be doing a toned down set for Porchfest and rocking out acoustic style.

Their performance will include interpretations of some famous rock songs ideally suited for the NDG porch environment, but for this special show they will be even adding a hint of country and blues to the set list. Children are more than welcome as the band has reserved a few songs that will be very appealing to the younger generation.

They will be playing their set on a back porch which means that there will be extra room for people to come and sit down and avoid the sound of passing traffic. Remember to bring your own chairs!

Sunday, 2pm, 3784 Melrose (entrance through the alley)

Crackers & Jam

This self proclaimed Slacker Lounge Act likes to party and they are full of melancholy. Come see a fantastic soul/rock band that has an energetic and immersive sound.

What’s cool about this outfit is their unforgettable visual performance. They combine a 70s groove, the 21st century sounds of techno and the everlasting sounds of strings from the days of Mozart till today.

They will get us dancing with their pop tunes and a heaping spoonful of bravado.

Saturday, 5pm, 4049 Hingston

Siamsa Montreal School of Irish Music

This awesome school’s MO is all about promoting Irish music, culture and a sense of community. So you don’t have to wait for next St Patty’s Day to get your Irish Fix. The school  holds classes open to the public and hosts workshops and even dances. They will be putting on a fantastic show during Porchfest so come and check the show out to find out what this unique school is all about.

Saturday, 4pm, 4413 Montclair

King Shadrock

King Shadrock is all about equal rights. His soulful reggae voice has earned him the name Little Buju which refers to reggae godfather Buju Banton.

He’s got that husky powerful voice. He’s influenced by the king himself, Bob Marley, as well as Sizzla and Lenny Kravitz. He loves entertaining people and will give you a great performance full of love and soul.

Sunday, 5pm, 6650 Cote-St-Luc (official closing show)

This is really just a smattering of what you can enjoy today (Saturday) and Sunday at Porchfest NDG (rain day is Monday). You can check out the full schedule or just head down to NDG and walk around.

* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at music@forgetthebox.net. Our week goes from Thursday to Wednesday, so let us know by the preceding Sunday, though not too much in advance, or you may get lost in the shuffle. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Nuit Blanche, for me, is all about checking out as many random things as I can with friends, running into people I haven’t seen in a while and taking the metro home at a time it doesn’t usually run just because I can. This past Saturday was all tgat, but also a chance to celebrate and remember the unforgettable Montreal poet, songwriter and icon Leonard Cohen.

After some time spent at a church and the obligatory run through the Belgo Buildings, we braved the sea of humanity in Place des Festivals to make our way to the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (or the MAC) where the exhibit Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything was showing. The line looked daunting at first, but moved quickly for a Nuit Blanche line.

The first room we entered turned out to be the one we would spend the most time in. It was all about Leonard’s music career, with concert footage from each era mixed in with interviews and archival photos and video simultaneously projected on three walls.

It was on a loop but it took about an hour for the whole loop to start again. It was chock full of great footage and I saw a good chunk of the crowd singing along at several points and caught myself doing the same.

After being treated to a quality mini musical doc, we checked out the rest of the exhibit. There were rooms with presumably equally as thorough videos on Leonard’s poetry and writing and one with an organ where each key played a recording of Leonard saying something.

I would have liked to spend more time in these rooms, but the Nuit Blance bustle and the fact that it was close to closing time (pun intended) for the museum meant I would have to do that some time in the future (okay, enough, two is pushing it). Seriously, though, I will make a point of returning to fully immersing myself in this exhibit before it closes.

While the use of technology was impressive throughout, there was one section, separated into two rooms, that took it to the next level. In the first, there was one screen with a choir singing Leonard Cohen songs (what else). Rather, they were singing parts of Leonard Cohen songs.

When you went around the corner, there was a larger room with what seemed like over 20 screens in a circle facing inwards. Each one had a different person on it and they were all singing or speaking different parts of the same song the choir in the other room was singing, in sync.

If you got close enough to one screen, you heard that person either taking part in the song or moving around, rustling pages or clearing their throat quietly. It was very intimate and human and technologically slick at the same time.

Pretty sure all or at least most of the people were local, too. I recognized one person I know and a few others seemed very familiar.

And then there was the hologram. Yes, in a room made up to look like Leonard’s from some non-specific time in his lengthy career, there was a balcony with a Leonard Cohen hologram sitting down and looking out on the city.

While everything on Nuit Blanche was free and this exhibit normally isn’t, I don’t mind paying to take it in again and fully experience it. From what I already experienced, it’s unique, a great tribute and worth it.

Really glad that Leonard was part of my Nuit Blanche this year.

* Featured image by Stephanie Laughlin

** Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything runs at the MAC until April 9, 2018

It was like being at a playground with no bullies, an island where the mean kids were eaten by the piranhas in the mote. Human centipedes and oversized drag queens ran wild, smiling half naked fat people covered in glitter howling at the moon, everyone was queer, penises had goggly eyes, dildos were flying free, dog shit was on the menu, size 13 heels digging into the dirt as we followed a trail of Tiki torches, whip it remains, discarded wigs, and plastic pink flamingos towards true freedom, the safest safe space, a revolution, true freaks united to exist in a place of pure bliss. Welcome to Camp John Waters.

I drove to Kent, Connecticut from Buffalo NY, stopping to steal a kiss at 4:20 and send my roomie/bestie/ride or die/ down AF off to the NY Burlesque Festival for the weekend (because YES, Camp JW is even more important than THAT).

I remember months ago a few of my friends shared a link about the camp and I knew right away that I needed to be here. Born to wander solitary, I love going places alone, you never know what you will get into or who you will connect with.

I had my costumes ready months ago, we did a show at The Buffalo Infringement Festival called Don’t Go Chasing John Waterfalls. It was a tribute to John Waters.

All of my costumes were shoved into black trash bags and thrown into my HHR. This weekend was going to be the biggest audition of my life! When I read the description I imagined Divine on a zipline, Edith Massey on water-skis, or Mink stole with a flaming bow and arrow. I couldn’t wait to do boondoggle with weirdos and tell sexual horror stories around the campfire.

My first look was strong. I considered breaking it out for the costume contest but am glad I chose how I did. I wore the perfect Aunt Ida black jumpsuit. A thriftstore find, I remember putting it on excitedly after finding it on the pajama rack without panties on.

Labia to the crotch of the most perfect vinyl 90’s fetish wear, that was DEFINITELY worn. I inadvertently had sex with that person’s old crusty juices. The dust of ancient crabs couldn’t keep this perfect item of clothing off of me.

That is the kind of commitment I have to a life of true filth. Filth is my life, filth is my politics, filth is freedom and revolution.

I strutted toward dinner, this was a party that everyone arrived late to. The tent felt like a wedding, I sat alone, and then was joined by beautiful people, who would quickly all become my trashmates.

I watched John Waters eat. That felt strangely stalkery, so I then just shoved bread dipped in red lipstick and glitter in my mouth and looked everywhere else. People lined up to talk to him while he was eating. AMATEURS, I thought.

He told us some camp stories, motivated us all to be a little more political, inspired some circle jerks, and made me happy that I came. Where will I be at 71? John Waters has done it, and still fucking does it!

Bad taste is my fetish. That dream lit tent was overflowing with creative juices (and other juices too I am sure). Everyone was sensational, it was a totally empowering celebration.

The meet and greet was incredible, but strangely anti-climatic since I knew my real chance to shine was the costume contest. John asked me if my name was spelled with a C or a K, I told him C but that I would literally change my name if he spelled it the other way. Then he asked me if my mom was a stripper or a hippy. I said both, naturally. My polyester floral dress looked perfect next to his blue toned blazer.

Quickly drunk off of my new friends’ wristbands and whatever the drug fairy was handing out. The music was awkward at times, but the Camp Getaway staff made up for it!

Bluto was our jolly host, he partied harder than all of us. His wonky Edna Turnblad tits were on point. Color wars involved team building exercised like bouncing on a horse, tossing water balloons, and breaking balloons with a pelvic thrust. Team red baby, I bounced us to victory that round. Lunch with Pissy was brilliant, I fucking loved her blue sequins, crowd humping, and flawless mashups.

Except for this DJ. He didn’t get it. This was his reaction while I ate shit on stage. His fucking face is all the justification I need. Shocking, disturbing, out of control, yet still artful and smart.

Beautiful women with boners, vagina dentata, ALL OF THE LEOPARD, sky high drag queens with rubber tits and wigs that touch the ceiling, dykes with frizzed mullets, hand painted shirts, pencil thin mustaches, and pubic hair galore! I even saw a real live tea bagging!

I hear there was a blow job contest too! Does anyone know who won it? Was it in our dreams? Can we also talk about how spot on The Corny Collins Show in the boathouse was? It was perfectly decorated. The staff looked straight out of the 60’s. Integration for all!

They told us to just say our name and who our character was. I could not do that. This is my stage and I have layers on. I was right after the trash can. I ferociously grabbed the mic, put my gun in the air, and screamed KILL EVERYONE EAT SHIT I AM DIVINE!

Then I ripped off my perfect red sequin fishtail dress to reveal white fringe, and lifted the stuffed dog I was carrying, squeezed it, and as the “shit” plopped onto my face I knew that I had achieved my goal. As I bent over to reveal my giant skid mark I could hear him laugh and the crowd roared. I stormed off stage. History was made.

When he announced the winners I was ready. Third place was the best Hatchet Face, he was so good! The makeup, the movements, orgasmic! Then Number 2… THE STRIPPER THAT ATE SHIT! He commended me on giving a whole act.

The 1st place winner was the most spot on Aunt Ida in white, with the bloody hook hand and perfect hair. She looked like Edie back from beyond the grave. He ended with FUCK YOU MISS AMERICA!

Fuck yes! It was such an incredible moment a lifetime in the making. However, it had to end quicker than I wanted. I had to take a horrible shit the entire time I was on stage.

My biggest fear is that my chocolate stain would be an actual dihaerra stain dripping out of my tighty whities. I pooped myself in a Dollar General once while wearing a dress. Luckily it was a long dress and I got out of there before anyone saw.

This was not going to be one of those days. I rushed by my idol to go explode in the shitter. It could not have been more appropriate. In the end, it was all for a lousy t-shirt. That was what I officially won.

I want to call out all of the incredible people I met and experienced, but the list is too long.  A man painted a landscape with his cock and also fucked a stuffed chicken during the costume contest! Thank you, sir.

There were so many wonderful costumes, everyone was truly a star! So many quick changes, every meal was a new look. I was honored to be there.

I also won an audience with the Pope of Trash himself. I am a memory in his mind, hopefully a highlight from his inaugural camp. I knew very well that I really didn’t look like Divine, but I am a method actor like he was. I am an only child weirdo turned glamour queen.

My life changed when I first saw Hairspray and Pink Flamingos. I finally knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up” or whatever you want to call it . My color scheme was set.

I was obsessed with drag queens and all things subversive as a child. It was a definite sign of things to come. I was never afraid to be myself. Just like this night, I had only just begun.

We lingered outside for a long time after the party ended. My new friends sang and I did an impromptu burlesque number down to bare nips. The lights went out, then the real party began deep in the woods (just kidding it was like the first cabin)… it was MORTVILLE!

Our Queen made us all put our clothes on backwards and drink illegal liquor. There soon was a giant Plush Papa Smurf and Moose, that really spiced things up. The goggly eyes from my nipples ended up on the tip of a cigarette smoking dick. At one point there was a sphincter twirling the hypnotist wheel.

Debachery levels were high and so were we. There was so much sequins and lack of fucks. I could live in that time and place.

The Glam Gam gang from Montreal gets my vote for the Filthiest Campers! Especially my bizarro sibling, Michael J. McCarthy. Until this weekend, these wonderful creatures were just something I had seen on the internet.

I wrote a piece about their Odorama show at Cafe Cleo last year and fate brought us together. I can’t wait to perform with them in the future, look out for my triumphant return to Montreal!

I hated to go to sleep, but I had a burlesque class to teach in the morning. Wait, WHAT? How did that happen? I was in the right place at the right time. They had advertised burlesque and the instructor bailed. I jumped at the chance to teach TRASHLESQE right after a late breakfast to a bunch of hungover John Waters fans, my people.

I started off with some Divine into Iggy Pop I Wanna Be Your Dog. During the number I took a jar of chunky peanut butter out of my underoos. That was obviously homage to when Iggy Pop smeared peanut butter all over himself and his fans at a live concert. I saw Iggy for the first time this summer at Burger Boogaloo.

When I was done with my performance I asked if anyone wanted to clean off my cock. Nobody jumped at the chance. I was disappointed to say the least. Nobody lived up to my standard of filth that morning. I then proceeded to take two pieces of bread, wipe of the dick, and made me a sammich.

I then told the class to all remove their shirts and gave them a golden shower (glitter of course). LOVE YOUR BODY… touch yourself like you want to fuck yourself, own your sexuality, flaunt your flaws because they are perfection.

I asked people what they wanted their burlesque name to be, danced with them, and taught a few peeps how to spin tassels (it’s all in the knees). Burlesque is for everyone, just like the whole weekend in general. It doesn’t matter if you are big or small, young or old, male/female/trans/non binary, you have the freedom to express yourself and people will feed off of your positive energy.

Treating life as a stage will transform you to new states of being! You are powerful. Confidence kills all fear. THERE ARE NO BULLIES HERE!

Oh, Camp John Waters, how I loved you so. I was a lifeguard for awhile, floating on the giant inflatable flamingo  with my mullet, magnum condoms in my sweatband, just keeping people safe.

Sadly I am still too big for the zip line (250lb weight limit). Bloody Mary Bingo and Cards Against Humanity for the win.

Next year how about Divine and wine paint party? Make merkins and pasties? Adult balloon animals? Porn collages? Drag makeup workshops?

Yoga should be called Learn how to suck your own cock, Zumba should be called MILF Bod 101, booze should be served 24 hours, the bonfire should be a giant lobster effigy, and the end, there needs to be a Dirty Dancing-style talent show so all of the spectacular weirdos can strut their stuff and show the world that we are unstoppable.

I don’t have the heart to unpack. My car is still full of costumes and there is still crusty peanut butter on my pretty pink strap-on.

It is impossible to come down from such an incredible high. I met my idol AND impressed him. What next?

All I know is that I will be there next year! I am already signed up to perform and teach another Trashlesque class. Dreams to come true!

See you next year campers, I love you all. Stay trashy.

From tomorrow through August 20th, NDG residents, frequent visitors to the neighbourhood and even people from all over looking for something fun to do in the summer have a chance to discover more about this sprawling community in western Montreal and document what they learn on social media. It’s a scavenger hunt.

In particular, it’s the ScaveNDGers Hunt, officially part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. ScaveNDGers is an event created and organized by Sarah Ring and Aurora Robinson, two NDG residents who are also behind another successful community-based event, PorchFest NDG, a porch-based local music festival that happens every spring.

I had a chance to speak with Ring about this very unique scavenger hunt:

FTB: Where did you get an idea for an NDG scavenger hunt? Did the success of PorchFest play a role?

Sarah Ring: The city put out a call for projects last year and the NDG Community Council (Sharon Sweeney who is the center of a lot of community-driven initiatives in NDG) reached out to a lot of people, groups, organizers to brainstorm possible projects that could get funding. So being the organizers of PorchFest got us invited to that session and I assume showed the city/board of decision-makers that we could handle the job.

It was during that session that we came up with the idea of a scavenger hunt but instead of people having to unearth certain objects (like a Rolling Stones concert ticket from 1978) we thought that people could have tasks to accomplish.

Many NDG events seem to center around Sherbrooke and Monkland, but according to your map, this event incorporates all of NDG, including below the tracks and the northern parts of the neighbourhood. Do you think this will help people discover other parts of NDG they may not visit frequently?

NDG is big and we thought it would be a great opportunity for people to discover other parts of their hood. If you live in the Monkland Village, how often do you go to St-Raymond or Westhaven? Both Aurora and I live in the western part of NDG (Loyola) and it often gets neglected.

A lot of the action is concentrated around NDG/Girouard Park though Arts Week is finally moving west with Sunset on Somerled – a great initiative! There is so much diversity in NDG that some might not know about- conversely, there are a lot of cultural communities that might not be familiar with the history of NDG- this seemed like a great way to bring people of all walks of life and demographics together to make new discoveries – be it people, places, architecture, knowledge.

In this sense the community has been an integral and invaluable part of the project- from its conception, to preparation (Jason Wasserman, an NDGer who did our graphics, was in En Masse) to where we buy our supplies, and translation services to the content of the tasks, and now the participants – though it’s open to everyone not just NDGers. Our focus has all been on the neighborhood and utilizing what great resources we have here locally – you know, by the people for the people!

3. As this is an event for all ages with a strong learning component, albeit a fun one, how much of what is there to be discovered will be fresh knowledge even for adults who have lived in NDG for years in addition to being discoveries for the kids?

For sure some of the clues and facts will be known to some – that’s inevitable. There is a FB group dedicated to NDG bygone eras who have a much richer acquaintance with the past than we do. But a lot of our tasks involve getting participants to do something related to a community service (which people might not know about) or create some public art or record a story. In this sense, participants are creating new knowledge about the neighborhood that will be novel to everyone – recently arrived residents and the old timers alike.

All the images, videos (data) will be archived and preserved. So yes, some facts will not be new to some but all the teams’ results (we have about 60 teams so far!) will generate deep and meaningful connections that will outlast the project. That’s really exciting for us!

If you’re excited, too, or just a bit curious, you can sign up before August 13th at tresorsndg.com to get started

The 13th Annual Buffalo Infringement Festival has come to an end, I survived. All of my dreams came true (especially the wet ones).

In 11 days I made quite a few costume changes, lost my mind and found it, and saw some of the most incredible art I have ever experienced in my life. I won this year’s poster contest, so it was extra special.

Thank you Montreal for giving us the Infringement Festival! I was a naked caterpillar riding my trike wearing nothing but glitter and a smile for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and World Naked Bike Ride, Marie Antoinette me was part of a nude cake fight and fetish party for Wet Dreamland where hotties suckled at my frosting spewing teets, my porn collages and newest paintings hung proudly.

I was Dazzlingly Inappropriate. I read a story based on my drawing that will eventually be a children’s book collaboration. I spun rainbow ribbons in a garden. I was a purple sparkley unicorn and Bob Ross in the same day. My rainbow butterfly wings were my day look. Oh, and no big deal but my best friend dressed up like a dog and shit in my mouth as I was Divine for our tribute to John Waters, then my dick was a monster and I was a mud shark girl for a Frank Zappa tribute to end the festival.

It was a wild wild wild ride. I am so honored to be part of this festival. My life is better because of it. I have a chance to truly be ME and express whatever weirdness lies within.

To be uncensored and completely free is priceless. I am already planning for next year! A whirlwind of every kind of art imaginable takes hold of my spirit.

Infringe everyday!

 

Howie Mandel’s gala hosting abilities are stronger than most. You can tell he’s a seasoned performer who has been on television for years. Perhaps it’s from having done Deal or No Deal and America’s Got Talent, but for whatever reason, he was able to host one of the best gala’s I’ve seen in years.

I’ve been to a few galas, many of which have been pretty lackluster, whereas Howie’s seemed to rise to the occasion. He made a highly entertaining evening  better because he knew how to deliver jokes and properly introduce the next comic. You’d think this would be an easy task for most hosts, yet I’ve seen so many failed attempts before.

It also didn’t help him that it was a good night for the comedians that he was hosting,  as most of them were spot-on with their routines. The evenings all-star cast included Cedrick the Entertainer, Ron Funches, Orny Adams, Christela Olonzo, Gina Yashere and John Heffron.

Highlight of the show were Cedrick the Entertainer jokes about getting old, Ron Funches whose dry lisp delivery was just generally funny and Gina Yashere talking about the dirtyness of New York (she’s a great comic and I recommend checking out her solo show if she comes back to the festival in the near future).

Orny Adams received of a standing ovation for his routine which was based on the how much he hates millennial and millennial culture. I have to say; I’ve seen Orny several times and when he’s on he’s on and that night he was great!

By the end of the evening most people who were in the audience were feeling pretty energetic from all that laughter, and segue after segue the host master Howie Mandel gently made us laugh as he brought us to the end of this all star occasion.

35 years ago Just For Laughs brought the world’s great comics to Montreal, and here, 35 years later, who better than Canadian funnyman Howie Mandel to host them.

* Featured image from 2016 by Mike Miller, courtesy Just for Laughs

Not all heroes wear capes. Some, as I found out during Saturday’s second taping of All Access Live Hosted by Wyatt Cenac, jump on stage to entertain the crowd during technical problems.

Having already been to an All Access Live taping, the one hosted by Moshe Kasher, I expected a funny, intimate show and a well-oiled and well-timed production. It was both, right up to the end of American comic Theo Von’s set when the generator that was powering all the TV equipment blew.

After a bit of confusion, warm up comic Aaron Burr returned to the stage to explain what was happening.

Now since we’re talking about messups, I’ll admit one of my own. In my initial review of the Kasher All Access I called the warm-up guy Bill Burr. I thought it must be Bill. Bill Burr was a comic and Aaron Burr was the guy who shot Alexander Hamilton (note to self: listen to Mirna, she’s usually right).

Turns out not only is Aaron Burr a comic, he’s a damn good one capable of some seriously good improv to keep the audience going when the planned show was temporarily delayed.

Jessica Kirson, whom I imagine was the planned surprise guest for the end, also performed her set during this mid-show interruption. We’ve already reviewed her as part of The Ethnic Show, so I won’t go into her set here only to say that her comedic talent combined with the awkward energy in the room led to a truly stellar set that the audience needed at the time.

Huge props are also due to Von. He had been rocking the crowd with a solid set and then was pulled off the stage before he was able to finish it. When the TV tech was back up and running, he had to start from the beginning, something that I can’t imagine being easy to do when so much of a comedian’s success relies on flow and timing.

While the audience was fully expecting him to repeat most jokes and was even told that he would by Burr, Von opted for entirely different material at the start. He only ended up repeating the setup to the joke he was interrupted on, which involved audience interaction on top of it.

Now while I’m sure professional comedians like Von have a ton of material in reserve, the decision to throw out what he had planned for his TV appearance in order to offer the in-house crowd something new impressed me. It helped that he also happened to be one of the funniest and most animated comics up there that night.

Amidst all the chaos, host Cenac kept his cool and delivered his comedy in the chill, matter-of-fact way he is famous for. His material ranged from personal observations to the current state of US politics.

Audience interactions also played a big part in his performance, something Cenac felt completely at home doing. For one intro he sat casually at a table, just hanging out with some of the crowd.

I interacted with one of the comics, Darrin Rose, when he asked who was an older brother. Turns out he wasn’t that fond of older brothers, or at least his – for comedic effect of course.

Robby Hoffman, with her mousey though confident delivery was great. Kurt Braunholer was another standout.

The other comics, Rhea Butcher, Charlie Demers, Esther Povitsky and Damien Power, all delivered solid sets and I remember laughing quite a bit. I’d have to watch the TV version of this show to properly do them justice in a review, though.

All the excitemen during the unexpected break made Von’s triumphant return to the stage the comedic high point of the night. That and probably the extra bar run we got because of it split my focus between what was currently on stage and thoughts of “how cool was that” about what had transpired.

That dichotomy lasted until the end, with a brief interruption when I fully focused on Cenac’s second mini-set.

It wasn’t the show I was expecting but it ended up being one of the most entertaining shows I saw.