Okay, I just need to share the bizarre dream I had on Saturday night (yes, I had been drinking):
I'm in Baton Rouge, in my Grandpa's driveway. Across the street, my old roommate Lee is strapping a turbine-powered jetpack to his back, with his arms threaded through Da Vinci-esque wings. The turbine on his right wing suddenly overdrives, tearing his right arm out of the shoulder socket. He picks his arm up and gives it to me to carry to my car, and slightly panicked, we race to a hospital.
The problem is, I've forgotten how to navigate Baton Rouge, and I cannot get to the hospital. Or should I say the right hospital. Because in my dream we stop at three distinct hospitals, but he objects to each one in a picky fashion as he sits bleeding in my passenger seat. Nor do the doctors seem particularly concerned with his arm so much as they are with directing us to the correct hospital.
We never make it, as the dream ends with us lost somewhere on I-12.
The Traveling Musicians: The Nomad was the perfect setting for this bawdy and hilarious rock show. The band successfully lampooned a variety of musical styles and musicians, my personal favorite song being the Doors/Jim Morrison pastiche. A great show to relax at and have a beer.
An Intimate Evening With Fotis Part III: With his strongest material yet, Mike Fotis regales his audience with stories of mundane tribulations, yet he weaves them together into hilarious epic tragedy. Jen Scott's accompaniment on upright bass compliments Fotis's self-described neurosis, hang-ups, and eventual triumphs.
Sarah, Your Ovaries Are Drying Up: The Musical: Skeptical of anything with the word "musical" in it's title, I cautiously approached this show, and was pleasantly surprised at the excellent quality in the script and the musical performances. Musicians Molly Dworsky and Nate Rowan provide an excellent thematic through-line the show, and the cast has fun with the witty script.
Citation Needed: A short-yet concise sketch show, Citation Needed playful abuses the ability to twist the facts of the popular online encyclopedia. The sketches never dragged due comediennes Lisa and Mary Kate's unflagging energy and enthusiasm.
Buyer's Remorse: Attention must be paid to Sam Landman and Ian Miller's conflicting yet complimenting performances, serving as foils to the ridiculous relationship of assassins Parker and "Man of Few Words" Johnson. That they feel sidelined as secondary characters to a less interesting A-story is my sole complaint with this show.
Two Bowls of Cereal and Some Bacon: Alternating between two biographical anecdotes, Mahmoud Hakima weaves a heartbreaking tale of domestic abuse and racism, and the way a child justifies them into what he perceives as normality. Hakima's tales evoke vivid detail and authenticity that easily transport the listener into the world of a seven-year-old-boy. MaryLynn Mennicke's sound design provides the perfect companions to Hakima's vignettes.
Punk Rock Omaha: Eschewing their long-form improv format for a remount of their 2002 Fringe hit, Ferrari McSpeedy challenges themselves to put on a show not for the audience but for themselves. They're not looking for a precise show so much as they looking to have fun trying to remember the lines and poking fun at their own material, and their frantic pace amuses the audience about as much as their script.
[Since I have never read Moby Dick, I recuse myself from reviewing Moby Dick Tonight. But it was weird.]
The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus: Any show that successfully parodies boy adventure novels with the same quality of The Venture Bros. is a winner in my opinion. While opening relatively slowly, the show picks up frantically yet tightly as the Harty Boys happen upon the crime scene. The script wittily pokes fun at its genres conventions as well as skewers many of the Twin Cities' landmarks. The cast superbly relishes in the absurdity of their characters, and the two child actors in particular give outstanding performances.
The Morning After the Summer of Love: Scream Blue Murmur's exploration of the tumultuous issues surrounding the year 1968 and its repercussions forty years later provides the Irish poets with a broad range of emotions and imagery for poetic material. Their works, while powerful, never connected with me emotionally, though that may be due to my lack of connection to the era of the '60s. The grasp they had on the audience was unmistakable, though, as they are still master storytellers with distinct voices.
Axed! (The Rockstars' Remix): Three mesmerizing short stories from three mesmerizing storytellers. Rik Reppe, Courtney McLean, and Dave Mondy took turns telling one story each in a chapterized format that left me disappointed that I had to wait, yet reminded me that I needed to hear each of the next stories as well. The encore showing at the BLB, beer in my hand, was the perfect way to end the Fringe Festival.
Blue Ribbon Burlesque: Timecodes from lights-down:
12:23 - Blue ribbons used as tassles!
26:06 - Pasties (in the form of leeches)!
36:40 - Pasties during a fan dance!
48:38 - Tassles, and a bikini-pasty-thingy!
Comedy Go: Suggestion: Comedian
And I have thus seen every Ferrari McSpeedy improv set at this year's Fringe. A solid showing overall, but I can see the toll that four 45-minute longform sets has inflicted upon them. So on Sunday, Punk Rock Omaha, their first scripted Fringe show from 2002! I look forward to it.
Squawk: I have a soft spot for penguins thanks to Berke Breathed's creation, Opus from Bloom County and its spinoffs. Walking Shadow's creation, Lt. Andrew Falkland, won me over with amazing puppetry that gave him (yes, I know it's an inanimate object) a unique, lovable personality. I never questioned his interaction with his human counterparts, his determination, his motivation, and his integration into the much-touted "Post-Racial America."
The only qualm I have with the story is that it crams in too many social issues, when it would benefit a tighter plot by focusing on one. Squawk does juggle the ethical points it raises well, though, and I applaud it for adding intelligent discussion to the issue of race in America.
Comedy Go!: Suggestion: Famous Fruits.
The duo were joined by BNW colleague Lauren Anderson, who injected a frenzied energy into the set. While not as tightly plotted as the previous two sets, it remained strong, hilarious, and well-developed character-wise.
Tragedy of You: Joseph Scrimshaw works wonders with his scripted shows, so I was curious to check out his Mad Lib-esque Tragedy of You. While not as tightly constructed, his improvised drama entertained nonetheless.
Scrimshaw invites an audience volunteer to provide personal details about his/her life, and as they answer questions for his fill-in-the-blank whiteboard, Scrimshaw studies the mannerisms of his subject. When he's gotten all the details he needs, he begins a loosely described five-act Shakespearean tragedy, humorously skewering the Bard along with his audience volunteer. Don't expect iambic pentameter throughout, but do appreciate the jokes made of the literary devices. Dennis Curley accompanies Scrimshaw on the piano, providing amusing interludes between acts. And the inclusion of a bear was nice.
The Return of LICK!: Timecodes from lights-down:
41:24 - Bobby Gardner man-ass, Coppertone style!
I loved this show. The commitment to pelvic thrusting won-over my black heart.
To quote writer/director/misogynist/actor Tommy Wiseau, "Do you understand life?! Do you?!" With brazen confidence, writer/director/misogynist/actor Matt Kelly answers, "Yes, Tommy, I do. I do."
Like the auteur Wiseau, Matt Kelly's dream persona, referred to as "Killer," grapples with the she-demon haunting him. Yet in his film The Room, "Johnny," Mr. Wiseau's role, is crippled to inaction by the cheating machinations of fiancée Lisa, while Kelly's nightmare version of Killer (portrayed by Max Besner) proactively murders his true love Meghan, as well as every other female character in the production (all played with various accents by Katy McGrath), as they all represent her nature of betrayal due to their having of vaginae.
Despite their differences in methodology, their denouement remains similar: Johnny, too perfect and pure for this world, removes himself from it, while Killer, filled with peace of mind, concludes to remove everyone else. Killer, though, may have the edge on Johnny, as he has realized that women are for copulation, but murder is his one true lady.
Kelly's monologues, while brief and arresting, are saddled with in-between "Nightmare" segments acting out his murders, riddled with dialogue that sounds false compared to his tight solo scenes. Also perplexing are the costume designs for the "Nightmare" scenes, which evoke the character designs of Capcom's Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Edition.
The triumph of a film like The Room lies in its bizarre cultural impact and the invitation it gives the audience to freely laugh and cringe at a man's self-unrecognized flaw. The Nightmare Man succeeds in the latter, but in the ephemerality of the Fringe Festival it is doomed to be forgotten.
But not by me. Kudos.
Full Frontal Improv: While actual quality improv at this year's Fringe plays with plenty of seats left to fill (*cough*Comedy Go!*cough*), bad improv like this show pack in the audience.
Swandive plays it safe, sticking to recognizable short-form games recognizable to anyone whose sole exposure to improv are a couple episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway?. Character work was rarely solid, chemistry was never sparked, and cheap laughs were quickly grabbed in favor of a more meaningful joke. When other long-running short-form venues like ComedySportz and Stevie Ray's perform better and cheaper, there's no reason to see this poorly rehearsed improv show.
Improv pro-tip for the actors: wear closed-toed shoes for your safety.
Drinking Stories: Comedienne Jen Zalaar excels as a monologist; she confidently delivers her scripted material, and her off-the-cuff stories share the same meticulous detail. Her series of stories are tied together by the motif of drinking, be it coffee, tea, water, or beer. Bring in a drink, as she'll be raising a glass in toast throughout her set.
Full Frontal: A Tale of Love & Lobotomies: Timecodes from lights-down:
1:35 - Boobs. Bouncing around as the actress ran across the stage.
And after the first three minutes you can leave, because this play is essentially One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest minus McMurphy.