Even though the 30th Edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival won’t happen until June 2021, MainLine Theatre hopes to remain engaged with the community during these difficult times. With that in mind, they are planning This Is Not a Fringe Festival.

“Just because we’re pressing the pause button on the Fringe doesn’t mean that we can’t gather. I’m looking forward to encouraging artists and audiences to connect in new and exciting ways,” said MainLine’s Executive and Artistic Director Amy Blackmore about the upcoming festival.

In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, this online socially distanced art festival will take place from June 11-21, 2020. Full programming, which will include micro-dance videos, storytelling events, theatrical parties, community art projects, mail-in art and more – will be announced on June 1.

For more information, please visit montrealfringe.ca

This is not happening. Well, actually, it did happen and it was quite funny, that was just the name of the show. After a night of catching just some of what OFF-JFL had to offer, we settled in to Café Cleopatre for the final show of the evening, the aforementioned This is not happening hosted by Ari Shaffir.

Just like you might expect from a nightcap, it was time to hear some stories. In this case, stories of childhood.

This wasn’t your typical standup show. Shaffir gave his guest comics the task of telling real long form stories and turning them into a comedic routine. Each night had a theme every comic needed to follow and this time the theme was either childhood or family.

It was a very interesting experiment to witness. On one hand, standup is such a free flowing, on the spot art form and this involves sticking on topic, albeit a broad one. On the other hand, breaking the mould is something standup comics and anyone who is good at improvising do anyways and succeeding in this format surely involves breaking the standup mould.

Greg Proops This is not happening OFF JFL
Greg Proops

Overall, the comics this Tuesday evening at midnight adapted well to the format. The standouts were Shaffir, who set the tone with his tale of going from rich to poor as a kid and Greg Proops of Whose Line is it Anyways fame who spoke of hooking up with the wrong crowd thanks to his first job as a pizza delivery boy.

The highlight of the evening for the audience was clearly Al Madrigal, known for his work on The Daily Show and his own standup specials. His performance did meet the theme of a story about family and was quite funny, but it was also a part of his solo act which I had seen earlier the same evening (and Jerry Gabriel reviewed). There was also a brief return visit from Brody Stevens, whose show we had just left to come to this one on time.

This was a good end to the evening and an interesting concept that worked. There are no more presentations of this show in the festival, but expect a TV version of it in the fall.

* photos by Chris Zacchia