The 27th consecutive edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is in full swing. With just a week to go, there are still hundreds of theatrical performances coming up, not to mention daily outdoor concerts at Fringe Park.

It’s still not possible to catch all of it. FTB’s Ellana Blacher will be reviewing shows in the days to come, but for now, here are a small handful of performances we plan to catch:

Peter Pansexual

Glam Gam Productions are back! The team behind previous fun, debaucherous and thought-provoking Fringe hits If Looks Can Kill…They Will! and The Little Beau Peep Show, not to mention the monthly strip Karaoke series Bareoke are offering a queer interpretation of the classic fairy tale Peter Pan.

This isn’t Disney’s version, though it is clearly aware of the 1953 film, which their press release describes as “wholesome fun for whole family, with women pitted against each other, marginalized groups exploited and gender stereotypes reinforced.” Given Glam Gam’s history, this promises to be the exact opposite.

Here is one of the many video character teasers they released:

Peter Pansexual runs until June 16th, info at montrealfringe.ca

The Ballad of Frank Allen

Montreal Fringe veterans Shane Adamczak (Trampoline, Zack Adams and Greg Fleet’s This Is Not A Love Song) and St John Cowcher (The Red Balloon, Farm and The Adventures Of Alvin Sputnik) star in The Ballad of Frank Allen, a musical about a janitor who, due to a scientific accident, has to live in another man’s beard.

There’s even a soundtrack available on Bandcamp. Here’s a taste:

The Ballad of Frank Allen runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

Poet vs Pageant

Melbourne, Australia-based performer, writer and poet Telia Nevile is bringing her one woman show Poet vs Pageant all the way to Montreal after being named Best Emerging Writer at the Melbourne Fringe.

This show promises an Epic Poetry treatment of an awkward outsider’s journey into the world of beauty pageants. Think Homer’s Odyssey “with extra sequins.”

Poet vs Pageant runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

PERISCOPE

This is the story of one night where Megan takes a shortcut back to happiness with a pill. It’s a comedy show about first-hand experience with mental health.

Vancouver-based writer and performer Megan Phillips was named one of the top artists to see at the 2016 Edmonton Fringe Festival. She created this solo show with the help of Fringe veterans TJ Dawe and Jeff Leard

PERISCOPE runs until June 18th, info at montrealfringe.ca

* The 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival runs through June 18th, for tickets and info: montrealfringe.ca

I will be attending the Montreal Infringement Festival this year and simultaneously protesting the World Fringe Conference. Everyone who tried to attend the conference from both the Montreal and Buffalo Infringement Festivals have been denied without reason.

Why do we scare you so much? If you want to have a well run festival you must know the counterculture you have excluded. Fringe artists are supposed to be cutting edge and on the fringe of new and exciting artistic expression. They must pay money to be part of the festival. Politically motivated acts are not welcome due to the chance of pissing off sponsors. Censorship and corporate sponsorship are evil.

The Montreal Infringement Festival was created by Donovan King in 2004 after the St. Ambroise (a beer company) Fringe censored the artist in 2001. The sponsor Can-West Global, a media company that owns the Montreal Gazette was to blame.

The theatre critic from the Gazette wanted a free ticket to Car Stories (experimental politically charged interactive street theatre where the audience moves and becomes the show) and after being told “no” caused a stink and decided not to cover the festival until the artists were ejected. The festival not only kicked the artists out but also refused to pay them their ticket sales after a sold out week or reimburse the registration fee associated with the Fringe trademark.

The following year Infringement spread to Buffalo. Infringement is a non-profit, non-hierarchal, grassroots art festival. It is a revolution that brings together independent, free spirited, and often controversial and experimental expression.

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Donovan and I Montreal Infringement 2014

Donovan King attended the World Fringe Congresses in Edinburgh in 2012 and 2014 . He was invited as a representative of the infringement festivals. This year he the conference is in his hometown and he was denied access.

This is a blatant disrespectful slap in the face. Donovan was excited at the prospect of attending the 2016 Congress to continue the conversation in his home city and to try and finally resolve issues.

He has written and performed pieces that criticize the Fringe Festival and its ethics. Other artists have combined efforts to artistically challenge their exclusion from the St. Ambroise Fringe through culture jamming. The festival has responded with the complete exclusion of activist artists.

The police are called whenever there is a protest, even though the right to protest in Canada is protected by their constitution. Instead of communicating we are shunned, this cultural battle that has gone on for well over a decade and it must end now!

This year for the 3rd World Fringe Congress Donovan proposed a workshop on strategies to help ensure safer artistic festivals after unfortunate instances of sexual assault and discrimination against disabled people at recent Fringe Festivals. We need to create policies to ensure safety and inclusion of all people in our festivals.

He wrote a letter to the new Fringe CEO, Ms. Shona McCarthy, in response to the rejection of Infringement representatives:

“I find it really unfortunate that my colleagues in Buffalo are being rejected simply for being associated with me. It is important to remember that these artists simply wanted to do Fringe theatre until they were threatened by the Fringe in NYC, who claimed to control a Fringe trademark. Instead, they started an infringement festival, just like we did because of the Canadian trademark that prevented us from doing a populist form of arts we have been doing since we helped found the Fringe in Montreal. We are about as Fringe as it gets – if people won’t let us play in their ‘official’ festival, we are going to do it ourselves, just like the artists who invented the 1947 Fringe Festival in the first place.”

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Infringement Festivals accept and celebrate all artists

The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) also threatens unfounded legal action against any independent artists who try to use the word Fringe without their permission. This is the antithesis of creative expression. There is an exclusion of artists actually on the fringe of societal norms.

The Infringement Festivals do not fit corporate agendas and are not allowed to voice creative solutions to critical questions. In order to spark our own counter conversation there will be a World Infringement Congress on Saturday November 19th in Montreal.

Infringement is about community, inclusion for all, challenging unjust politics, celebrating diversity, and changing the world through artistic expression. Buffalo comrades should make the trip.

My last performance with Candy Ass was incredible
My last performance with Candy Ass Cabaret

I will be exposed and covered in corporate logos for the world to see and performing with The Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatra. I have been one of the visual arts organizers, a participating artist, and performer in the Buffalo festival for years and am also proud to say that I won the 2017 poster contest.

I am dedicated to the conservation of artistic integrity worldwide. My paintings have been ripped off walls and people have walked out of my performances. If people are offended then you are doing it right.

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Buffalo stands with Montreal to protect Infringement

I was surprised when I saw a giant ad and schedule for the Rochester Fringe Festival in a local Buffalo art publication. This is Infringement territory! We celebrate diversity and the pure unedited brilliance of local artists.

Try to tell me that what we are doing is wrong, that bringing the community together and celebrating the beauty of unity, artists of all walks of life and experience standing side by side making the world stronger, exposing children to art, collaborating with our neighbors and connecting to out of town artists who will soon become family.

Authentic and exhilarating politically charged art, discrediting idea of art as a commodity and fighting for the rights of all humans, and challenging mainstream ideas. No budget, totally volunteer run, guerrilla music, burlesque, dance, theatre, visual arts, poetry, comedy, and under the radar art that defies all categorization.

It is my everything, a citywide sprawling sweet escape from reality. I will fight for the integrity of this festival and others like it to the end.

It’s approaching that time of year, where Saint Laurent Boulevard gets shut down, the theatre folk flock and it’s officially Fringe Festival. Each year Fringe comes by and there are an over-whelming amount of shows to go to. From drag shows to theatre to music to puppetry to burlesque, it’s hard to know where to go with a bevy of great options to choose from. But do not fret my friends because I’m here to narrow down your fringe choices to the best of the best. That way you can spend your cold hard cash on good shows and good times (by which I mean beer).

Here are my OFFICIAL recommendations of what you should check out at this year’s Montreal Fringe Festival:

Bedrock Burlesque

What’s that I hear? All your favorite characters from The Flintstones have come back with a little more bump n’ grind! Sitcom Burlesque takes you back ALL THE WAY!

We all know and love Bedrock, but what happens when the lights go out? Join all your favorite characters for a night of misadventure, music, dance and, of course, Burlesque. Think strip-tease with pterodactyl wings. It’ll have you shouting YABBA DABBA BOOOOOOOBS!!!  (Please Note: The author of this piece is part of the team putting on this show, but then again, who wouldn’t want to be) (tickets)

Grit 'n Gusto_Photo2_Fringe2016Messy Bitch

I personally love any show that’s telling me to drink whiskey and become my inner bitchy self (pretty sure I’m already there). That’s exactly what Jessica Rae does in her one woman show Messy Bitch.

Featuring humour, sass and two disturbing puppets, Messy Bitch is a 30 minute storytelling adventure about learning to give #zerofucks.

So grab yourself a bottle of whiskey, put your bitch face and join Jessica Rae in an extremely messy and all out ridiculous show. You won’t regret it. (tickets)

Sexpectations

Do you like to be confused, aroused and a little bit taken aback? Then this is the show you definitely want to go see. Five-time Fringe performer, Maxine Segalowitz is not only the human behind PHACHINAH but also probably one of the silliest performers you’ll ever witness.

Find out what exactly her first one-woman show has in store with a whole cast of different character every night. That’s right folks, you might just be in it. (tickets)

House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens

The drag house that brought you Laureen: Queen of the Tundra is back and ready to take you behind the scenes. Enter through the backdoor and discover the secrets of all that’s hidden in the wondrous world of drag. Leave your misconceptions at home and join these queens in a night of pure and utter naughtiness. (tickets)

The Mysteries of the Unseen World of the Clavis Argentum

Think dark theatre, magic, live music and all that you’ve been waiting for…. burlesque. The Mystical order of the Clavis Argentum is ready to envelope you into it’s world of secrecy. There’s a lot of surprises in this show brought to you by Jimmy Phule and Matt Risk. Prepare to be confronted and maybe a little disturbed. (tickets)

Ladies Advice For Ladies

ladies advice for ladies fringe

Are you a lady? Are you a gentleman? Are you none of the above/all of the above? Whatever the case come on down to witness the epicness that is Cafe O’Lait Cabaret. Ladies Advice for Ladies is a satirical cabaret for ladies, gentlemen and all who are both or neither. Brought to you by Marianne Trenka, Tessa J. Brown and Kendall Savage you’ll be in for a treat that has more surprises than you’re prepared for. (tickets)

Well there you have it folks, those are my backstage recommendations to all the goodies of Fringe. So grab yourself a beer (or ten) and find out just what this year’s Fringe Festival has in store for you. The mayhem awaits you…

Full schedule at montrealfringe.ca

Panelists Samantha Gold and Enzo Sabbagha discuss Jian Ghomeshi’s  second trial, the latest bathroom laws in the US and the Montreal festival season at its start. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!

Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha

Panelists

Samantha Gold FTB Legal Columnist

Enzo Sabbagha: Musician, Podcast Production Assistant

* Ghomeshi and Bathroom Law Reports by Hannah Besseau

*Festivals Report by Enzo Sabbagha

* CLARIFICATION: The Peace Bond Ghomeshi signed doesn’t preclude other victims pressing charges. It only applies to Kathryn Borel.

Microphone image: Ernest Duffoo / Flickr Creative Commons

The Shiner is a charming one-woman show about the two selves we have inside us at all times; the adult and the child. Performed by Katie Legitt and directed by Al Lafrance, this show crams thirty-odd years of experience into one solid hour of storytelling. And like any good story there’s moments of happiness and sadness, silliness and wonder.

Just like LaFrance’s last Fringe show The Quitter, The Shiner relies completely on the ability of its star to captivate the audience. Whereas Lafrance relied on his snarky wit, Legitt brings her own unique strengths to the table. For Legitt this means demonstrating her passion for her day job as a spiritual animator, as well as being able to transform into a naïve, scrappy version of her younger self.

Legitt does both masterfully. Kudos also has to be given to the scriptwriting; the show has just the right amount of younger/older self to balance the serious/silliness aspect. Too much of either and the show would have veered off course. What a pleasure to see a strong woman who embraces the pain of the past and the passion for her work and literally turns it into a work of art!

Spoiler alert: Shirley Gnome is not mature, and she likes it that way.

This feisty musical comedienne from Vancouver makes her second appearance at the Montreal Fringe with a whole new set of songs to make you blush. This show is most definitely not for the prude or faint of heart. Gnome makes that abundantly clear when within the first two minutes of her show she’s singing a song about glitter in her pussy. “I took a peek underneath, what did I find/mystery glitter where the sun don’t shine.”

But don’t let that scare you off from buying a ticket. First off, the lady can sing. Her impressive singing chops are easily worth the price of admission alone. Even if she puts those vocal talents to use singing about dicks and things falling out of her vagina.

As the show progresses you start to realize that in between the ridiculousness are serious issues like the pain of denial, a broken heart, and gender equality. “You don’t need to buy me a meal or a drink to fuck me/no you never need to spend a dime/ to get your sexy vagina time/Instead if you could insist in your daily life/in any way that you can/to work towards a world where a woman gets paid the same as a man.”

It’s then you realize realize writing Gnome off as a frivolous Fringe act would be a mistake. Instead this sexually adventurous lady forces the audience to think about all the raw, emotional pain that comes from sexual relationships and realizes it’s mostly bullshit. Life is so much more fun when we can laugh through it, take a swig from a sparkly flask and move on.

Shirley Gnome: Real Mature plays at Le petit campus until June 21st. Tickets and info available on the Montreal Fringe website

Tranna Wintour knows how to command an audience. In her new show Trantasy, this Trans stand up comedienne has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand from the moment she walks out onto the stage.

Like any great diva the audience clearly loves her, and she loves them right back. With hugs and winks and calling people “baby” this performer seems nothing like a certain Vogue editor in New York City.

Instead of a stone-cold fashion bitch, Tranna is instead a witty glamour girl with the party dresses and perfectly coiffed nails to prove it. She’s also an unabashedly proud queer who loves sex, music and toying with straight boys online. Over the course of 60 minutes Tranna shares some of her most amusing and filthy stories of trying to find love and fame when you’re a pretty lady with a penis.

Whether you’re gay or straight, Tranna delivers plenty of raunchy jokes to fit your appetite. Some of the funniest moments in the show include Tranna riffing on old classics; after all who wouldn’t want to hear a parody of one of Streisand’s greatest hits entitled You don’t send me dickpics anymore?

After successful shows in Montreal, New York and now a CULT Mtl cover, it’s only a matter of time before Tranna Wintour becomes a superstar in her own right. So make sure to check her out while you can still afford to!

* Trantasy runs at the Wiggle Room until June 21, for tickets and info, consult the Montreal Fringe website

This year the bilingual, multi-disciplinary Montreal Fringe Festival turns 25. Running mostly out of The Plateau, this year’s festival boasts over 700 shows from over 500 artists. As always the offerings range from sweet to naughty, amusing to just plain out there.

So whether you want to take part in a strip spelling bee, watch drag queens race on tricycles, or take in a night of indie music, Fringe has you covered. The tricky part is what lie you’re going tell your boss so you can fit in all the fun!

Here are some of the shows that Forget the Box is excited to see this year:

  1. Trantasy: Stand-up comedienne Tranna Wintor explores her wildest fantasies onstage at The Wiggle Room from June 4th-21st
  2. No More Radio Showcase: Every year the folks from No More Radio put on a free showcase of indie music at Fringe Park. This year’s line-up on June 12th includes Heirloom, Grand Bend’s Stegall, and Sarah Segal-Lazar.
  3. Attention Seeker: British comedian Gerard Harris (Let’s Start a Country) returns for another year at The Fringe with a one-man show that seeks your attention from June 12th-21st at the Studio Multimedia de Conservatoire.
  4. Laureen: Queen of the Tundra Named after the Prime Minister’s wife, this show is whimsical exploration of what it means to be Canadian for a group of drag queens. Playing at Café Cleopatre from June 12th-21st
  5. Shirley Gnome: Real Mature This Vancouver act promises to take the audience on a hilarious 60 minute musical ride at Café Campus From June 12th-21st.

Make sure to visit Forget the Box often for upcoming reviews of all these shows and more! The Montreal Fringe Festival runs until June 21st. For ticket information, visit montrealfringe.ca

With a title like Johnny LegDick: A Rock Opera  this show gives you a pretty clear sense of what you’re walking into right off the bat. A musical about a group of travelling circus show freaks who break free of their oppressive owner (who happens to be named “sucka-da-cocka”), is without a doubt silly to its very core. But just like a good Meat Loaf song, every now and then who doesn’t want an epic power ballad in their life?

For a festival full of minimalist stages it’s a treat to see a Fringe show full of elaborate props, costumes, and a live band. The songs of course are meant to make you laugh more than make you think (unless of course, you really do want to ponder how a man pees when “he has a leg where his dick ‘suppose to be…”).

The funniest part of all is that everyone in the show is quite the talented singer. And somehow that brings a gravitas to songs about bananas, horse men with no pants and homo island. The lead of the show especially (whose real name I can’t seem to find anywhere online!) will blow you away with his voice. I sincerely hope that actor goes on to star in many other musical productions in the future.

Dick jokes aside, this is a solid show that is more than worth the price of admission. It would be great to see the play get some funding so they could go even further down the rabbit hole; expand the show into a two-hour odyssey of outcasts falling in love and standing up to the man. In many other cases of Fringe shows the standard hour length production is more than enough, but in this case I was definitely left wanting more.

After you’ve seen the show, make sure you like Playwright Hero Productions’ Facebook page and then you too can get all those insane songs suck in your head for a week.)

Johnny LegDick: A Rock Opera plays at Theater Sainte Catherine until Sunday as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival

God is back in town ladies and gentleman, and she’s got loads of new stuff to bitch about. After a buzz-worthy show at the 2012 Fringe, Mike Delamont makes a triumphant return as everybody’s favorite deity in God is a Scottish Drag Queen 2.

Don’t worry, you won’t get lost if you missed Delamont’s hilarious stand-up performance the first time ’round. Here’s all you need to know to get caught up: shows are performed by Delamont in-character, in the role of God. Delamont’s version of God also happens to wear a wig, a woman’s 1980s floral power suit, and be Scottish.

God in the worst drag outfit of all time is, of course, a completely ridiculous character. Seeing Delamont complete in-character at the 2012 Drag Races at Fringe Park was one of my favorite Fringe moments of all time. Here’s hoping he competes with Montreal’s drag queen beauties again this year!)

But upon reflection it’s easy to see there’s a method to Delamont’s “sweats like a mutant farm animal” madness. When a tall, bulky man wears a cropped wig, shoulder pads and speaks in a Scottish accent (Delamont is actually from Victoria BC), as an audience member  it’s easy to let your guard down.

And in that state, Delamont effortlessly commands your attention for the hour-long show. Throughout that hour you can expect God to drift in an out of rants that are both topical and universal in nature. The west Edmonton mall, Scientology, and my favorite bit of the evening – circumcision, are just a few of the things you and God are going to talk about. If that seems like a bizarre grouping of topics now, trust me, go see the show and within minutes you’ll also be laughing your mortal ass off.

Having toured the Fringe circuit across North America in two different shows, Delamont certainly loves being God. And we the audience love him playing it. God is a Scottish Drag Queen 2 was just as fun the second time, but I look forward to Delamont returning to the Montreal Fringe in a new ridiculous character or just maybe even as himself. After all, you wouldn’t want God to wear out his welcome.

Sad face time everyone; another Fringe Festival has come and gone.

I am thrilled to have just completed my second year of covering the Montreal Fringe Festival. I may not have been able to cover as much as say our creative director here at Forget The Box, Chris Zacchia. Then again, that man is a ball of frantic energy and just thinking about all the shows he runs around town catching makes me want to take a nap. I did though manage to see a bunch of shows of varying style and quality. The whole Fringe experience yet again made me happy that I live in this kooky, cracked out and wonderful city.

Just like last year, I began my Fringe Festival experience by heading down to Café Cléopatre to see my friends at the burlesque troupe Glam Gam productions. This time those naughty folks were putting on a fairytale-themed show entitled Little Beau Peep which amongst many things included a horny Pinocchio.

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Since the show had stolen all my close friend Jessica Klein’s free time the past couple of months, I wanted to go support her on opening night and see what all the fuss was about. Now, I admit I’m extremely biased when it comes to Glam Gam and have never really given them a bad review. But this year they really outdid themselves focusing on costumes, glitter and taking off their clothes. You know, because when it comes down to it, boobies are one of life’s most important things. And those folks sure know how to shake ’em.

Over the next days I caught other shows like Single Black Female and Zack Adams: Zack to the Future which, despite their problems, I thought were great and some other shows which were not so great. I’m not going to name names here, but I can imagine if you were out at the Fringe Festival you know which shows I’m talking about.

I also learned a few valuable lessons this year that I will make sure to remember for future Fringe Festivals. First off, whenever you want to find No More Radio co-founder Paul Aflalo, you never have to look much further than Fringe Park. And, more importantly, when you want to see any show in the first couple of days, especially highly buzzed about shows, make sure you get to the box office EARLY! Unlike every other show in Montreal it seems, Fringe shows start on time and sell out quickly.

I would have loved to have written a post last weekend to help promote Dan Bigham‘s show Now that I have your Attention!  but twice when I showed up I was sadly turned away. I am thrilled though that this past Friday I was able to catch one of the last performances.

ZAC_2971

It’s very rare in life when your expectations are not met but surpassed, and Bigham’s show is without a doubt my favourite of this year’s festival. The show was a brutally honest but comedic look back at his romantic history. Dan this is an official call out; please do another performance of this show in the future so I can give you a proper article devoted completely to your awesome self.

I want to thank the folks at the Fringe Festival, especially anglophone press coordinator Cam McKinnon and festival director Amy Blackmore for giving Forget The Box the chance cover the festival again this year. Now that the Fringe Festival has come to a close, I can sit back and enjoy a calm, laid-back summer without much else going on. This is Montreal and the summertime after all. Oh wait a minute….

Glam Gam photos by Iana Kazakova. Dan Bingham photo by Chris Zacchia. 

Traveling through one’s own body can be a very, very dirty and downright rotten job.

That’s what you will be in for at Peter Carlone and Chris Wilson‘s fourth production, Peter n’ Chris Explore their Bodies . Back after last year’s hit Peter n’ Chris Save The World, this time they’re delving into the bowels of, well, Chris’ bowels.

After finding out Chris no longer controls his own body, the duo have no choice but to wear a magical housecoat which allows them to dive into his body as a microscopic incarnation of themselves. In Chris’ body, a dark figure known as The Dark One convinces Chris, who happens to have hypochondria, that he has liver cancer.

From there the adventure begins as Chris and Peter dive farther and farther down Chris’ system to find The Dark One and restore Chris’ body to its rightful owner.

Dealing with many philosophical and theological issues, there is much this play attempts to explore but does so in funny, action-packed sequences that will amaze any audience with a pulse. As they move down into Chris’ body, they deal with with issues of appearance, self-loathing, obsessions and friendship. Details on the organ functions make for a  hodge-podge cocktail of identity crisis issues and is painfully funny. There is one great scene here where Chris ventures into his liver to meet a Scot who hangs out surrounded by processed alcohol.

Peter n' Chris Explore their Bodies - Program Photo

This two-piece are so full of energy I laughed nonstop.

What really made the show for me was beyond the stage and in the sound booth at Cabaret Mile End. It was the best damn sound-equipped show I’ve seen in years. These guys queued up their music in perfect timing with accompanied action sequences.

The sound here is professionally done and is injected with pop culture references from The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings and The Wardrobe. The play has an epic feel yet keeps its improv comedy sensibilities.

The death scenes are also hilarious. One in particular had me hacking away, I almost induced a spleen injury.

 

Fire in the Meth Lab is fucking hilarious!

“Everyone just wants to do what they love in life. My brother was lucky, he got to make meth. He loved it so much he even brought it home with him…” starts versatile comedian Jon Bennett. Jon tells the story of his asshole brother Tim, who went to jail for burning down a biker gang’s meth lab and stealing all their meth. Not quite the usual recipe for a side-splitting hour of comedy but this guy is funny. Practically every little bit and story is laugh out loud funny!

Jon takes us through his relationship with his brother growing up. A sampling of stories include his brother pissing on a seal, his brother sticking his dick in Jon’s ear, them attending Jesus camp then receiving an impromptu exorcism… it goes on.

Putting acid in his parents’ drinks before church… Where his father was the minister! (Best sermon E-V-E-R!)

Jon goes through his brother’s various life addictions in an attempt to discover how to love his asshole of a brother and comes away from it with an unorthodox but nonetheless heartwarming tale.

I definitely recommend this show. Jon Bennett is a whirlwind of comedy! If you didn’t get a chance to see him at this year’s Fringe Festival, he will be performing Pretending Things Are A Cock as part of the Zoofest comedy festival in July. See their website for more details.

When you see sketch comedy at 2 p.m. you have to wonder how much laughter could possibly come out of you at midday. Specifically, if you’re like me,  you’re probably still recovering from the Fringe festival beer tent the night before. You’re going to need a high dose of comedy, especially in the afternoon.

When you see great sketches that make you laugh, even in a muddled state, you realize that comedy—good comedy—has no temporal boundaries when it’s professionally done. This was the case for my first comedy show at the Fringe festival, Get Off the Stage Presents: All Their Golden Hits.

With each passing routine, I got more and more excited about each upcoming sketch. Chuckling to myself during music interludes between numbers, I sounded like I was choking on buttered popcorn in a theatre. Regardless of my strange laughter, everyone in the audience was having a great time.

Brought to you by the House of Style, the comedy troupe made up of skillful humorists Kyle Allatt, Timothy Diamond and Ryan Hipgrave, the show opened with an overly tongue-in-cheek McDonald’s owned by Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers. As customers order food from Michael McDonald at the counter, he sings back at them catchy responses like the song “no, we do not have Big Macs” sung in Doobie Brothers’ style.

The House of Style program and websiteThe next few sketches were chock-full of really terrible and incompetent doctors, failed Mars landing speeches that should have been epic and alien encounters that mocked our specie-centric view of the universe.

The definitive sketch of the afternoon was a man’s problematic relationship with his lord and savior Jesus, who now insists that they hang out all the time together, sheesh.

While there was no single thread to any of the pieces, “the best of” really did prove that a great deal of comedy is knowing how to make your audience laugh, even at two in the afternoon. Like a slug slouched over with a Bloody hangover, this intrepid fringe reporter still managed to laugh his proverbial pants off and have a ludicrously fabulous time, even at 2  p.m.

Get Off The Stage will be performing again at OFF A – Montreal Improv (3713 Saint-Laurent #202) on Sunday, June 23 at 9:45 p.m. See the Montreal Fringe Festival‘s website for more info.

Urge For Going was on my list of I’d really like to see but I don’t know when shows. Luckily I arrived in the right place at the right time last night and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Urge For Going is a multidisciplinary show by Quality Slipper Productions written by Bekky O’Neil. Multidisciplinary can be a scary word when it comes to emerging artists, as often times it means they do many different things poorly. To their credit the cast manages to combine theatre, puppetry, music and animation into a well structured, well staged and overall smooth show.

Urge for going-020The story follows a sweet Prairie girl from Saskatchewan who wants to gain her independence and goes on a journey of self discovery. A true free spirit, she attempts to follow in the steps of Joni Mitchell and follow her dreams. She picks up her ukulele and leaves home meeting a diverse cast of talking animals, hipster bloggers and corporate wolves.

Probably one of the most interesting and impressive elements of the show was the puppetry as one of the main characters the protagonist meets is Henry the Fox. Besides being a voice of reason, Henry is a very cool looking puppet expertly voiced and acted by Cloe Saint-Laurent.

The show does a really good job at satirizing both the purity of being free (running around with your feet in the mud and living on a dairy farm in Vermont) and today’s modern uber connected tech world (hipster bloggers will write reviews for beer).

Overall this is a story of trying to grow up too fast which hits the right notes. Check show times on Fringe Montreal.

ZACk to the future

When I saw the list of performers at this year’s Fringe Festival, there were certain shows I immediately knew I wanted to check out: one of them was Shane Adamczak (aka Zack Adams) and his production of Zack Adams: Zack to the Future. 

The native Australian has always impressed me with his quirky songwriting on No More Radio podcasts and in this new one man production he provides not only that but storytelling and a creepy puppet to boot. The venue for this show (Venue 4) is both conveniently and unfortunately located across the street from Fringe Park. I would actually advise against seeing shows there because as I watched the show I was distracted by the sounds of ironically, The No More Radio showcase at the Park.

The premise is that Zack Adams  wants to see if he ever becomes famous so he borrows a time machine and travels five years into the future to find his future self. While I wanted to love Zack to the Future, I have to admit that my favourite show by Adamczak remains the audience participation show How to Start a Country with Gerard Harris (which will be performed as a part of this year’s Zoofest).

ZACk adams

Don’t get me wrong there are some great moments throughout this show; as with his previous shows, his songs are my favourite part. Honestly it’s hard not to enjoy yourself as Adamczak is incredibly charming and has a great knack for physical comedy, flinging himself from one side of the stage to the other.

Don’t go see Zack to the Future if you’re looking for depth to your science fiction storytelling, go because you want to be entertained by a great comedian with a promising future.

Zack to the future plays until June 23rd. For tickets visit  the Fringe Festival Website.