Fringe Reviews, Day 3

So today I saw what's pushing the limit of a "fringe play" when I went to see Stand Up Stand Outs, a presentation of acts from four local comics. Basically four mini-shows, and the review hinges on what worked, what didn't, and whether you really want to see stand up in lieu of actual original works of fiction. Remember Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddyshack? Would you have paid $11 in the theatre to have him do his act? Maybe, but thats the decision you should make before even thinking to see this performance.

Sean Lecomber opens up the show...he has a very easy going style, hits the red-band material on occasion with good results, and a very entertaining show. Sean apparently was declared best new act at Just for Laughs this year, and it shows.

Unfortunately, this leads to what is by far the low point of the show: Kelly Soloduka. Kelly apparently had a bad experience in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He also has trouble letting go. He denounces Edmonton's "Fight violence" campaign as having a stupid slogan, but he should be paying more attention to the province's ad campaign: Cage Your Rage. He trashes Prince Albert. He trashes Saskatchewan. He trashes Albertans. He has 3 caveman impressions used to slander us as "simplistic". I suppose its easier than, you know, writing jokes.

As expected, host and show creator Lars Callioeu stole the show. He didn't bring much in the line of new material, so if you've seen his act before (and most of Edmonton has, I suspect, by this point) you aren't getting your $12 worth. Still, he kept the show together, and its good to see that the material that didn't work for him before has been refined to the point where it does.

The show is closed by Andrew Iwanyk, who apparently is half Chinese and has HIV. Or is playing it for laughs. It's awfully hard to get into an act where the performer announces he's HIV positive. Then tells you how it isn't funny. Then four minutes later claims it was all a joke. Some of his stuff is quite good, but the show sort of fell apart when he had two women Indian leg wrestle over whether to do red band material or not. The material ended up being a "Gangbanging for Beginners" presentation, which was the longest 7 minute setup for a lame anal sex joke imaginable.

Remember how Star Trek movies alternated between bad and good? This show was about the same deal. First performance very good, second very bad, third pretty good, fourth pretty bad. A better bet is to just go to a comedy club. At least there you can drink when the show sucks.

An aside, if you have $10 burning a hole in your pocket (I didn't) or an intense desire to watch all 4 performers again (I didn't) then you can purchase a DVD of their individual Comedy Strip performances (I didn't).


Anonymous said...

Loved the review! Seriously. I printed it out and put it on my fridge! Thanks for supporting the show.

Lars C.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Not sure if you picked up on the sarcasm :) Being the 'brilliant' scientist that you are I'm sure you did ;) This was a reply from an successful writer and actor friend of mine that I thought I would share with you... enjoy.

Holy smokes, no big surprise there. Theatre folk have a surprisingly dim view of stand-up comedy for some reason. It's all the same stuff, they just refuse to realize it. I remember a professor asking in class what theatre was. Somehow she came to the conclusion that doing stupid, nonsensical, performance art shit out on the street freaking out strangers counts as theatre (it's called Environmental Theatre), but writing, editing, and performing a comedic monologue, spending years to create 45 minutes of flawlessly timed and acted comedy, doesn't count.

It's partly the fault of comedians though, because they get so good at acting natural, that people buy the illusion that this is just funny people talking off the top of their heads. And that COULDN'T be considered theatre of course, there's no wacky make-up, no interpretive dance, no fake crying about being raped. All the bullshit that theatre assholes say about why theatre is so great, that it's live, that there's a connection with the audience, that's all way more true for stand-up, and they don't realize it. Reviewers are reviewers though. People know what they like, and no doubt they all went home and told everyone about the great jokes, or the uncomfortable gang-bang bit.

It's the same reason why Jim Carrey would never win an academy award for a comedy, but as soon as he does a drama, he's the greatest actor in the world. People love comedy, but have no respect for it as an art. The only thing people genuinely respect about comedians is that it "must take so much guts to get up there in front of people." Never, "wow, you wrote a whole bunch of stuff that I could never think up on my own, and then found a way to perform it in such as way as to make 90% of the population laugh at it, and then make it look like you were chatting at a bar off the top of your head."

"whether you really want to see stand up in lieu of actual original works of fiction" It's all true, man, every word of it. From, "I just got back from the airport" to "it's my anniversary tonight."

"Remember Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddyshack? Would you have paid $11 in the theatre to have him do his act?" Yes, yes I would have. Many people did, asshole.

To be fair though, to be completely fair, the first time I saw Andrew, I figured he was just some stoner that happened upon a funny joke about bugs in lights. By accident. Then I found out he's actually just a crazy sociopath.