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Sometimes They Tie a Thief to the Tree
Sometimes I stare, sometimes it's me.
Tales... of the Expected!: Like many children, I grew up to bedtime stories and parables; unlike some children, I was also raised to appreciate corny, cheeseball humor and irreverent parody. Tales reminded me of why I loved Fractured Fairy Tales: the dialogue was cheesy yet snappy and the humour was as socially scathing as it was self-deprecating.

Each performance showcases three of five tales "repurposed" Ari Hoptman. I was lucky to have caught the fantastic retellings of "Sleeping Beauty," "Jack & the Beanstalk," and my personal favorite, the classic fairy tale Das Boot (I'll leave you to figure out the wonderful pun, should you see the show).

I expect some people won't appreciate this show; I refer to those people, in a more polite fashion, as "joyless schmucks." The performers relished their roles, punctuated their punchlines, and sated the satirist-fanboy in me.

Comedy Go!: Suggestion: plumber.

Solid set, more playful and less narrative than the first one; a nice change in structure with some outlandish characters. A great set overall.

Also, fuck the Strib (and some reviewers): Bozic has never needed to be carried, and moments of silence ("dead spots," as referred to by some clueless reviewers) are not uncommon in long-form improv. Please watch something other than Whose Line is it Anyway reruns for a clue.

Comedy of Errors: I was initially skeptical of the gimmick "Shakespeare in the Parking Lot," and the performance felt rushed, yet both aspects gave the show a charming appeal.

Director Jason Ballweber successfully creates a "garbage-chic" atmosphere to match the Bedlam's parking lot, and makes excellent use of the challenging performance space. I didn't mind watching the cast trip over iambic pentameter at 80 kph, as they clearly conveyed the emotions of their roles in an over-the-top fashion befitting the show's set.

Sideway Stories from Wayside School: I probably owe Louis Sachar for the development of my sense of humor; I adored his Wayside series in middle school. Four Humours has done him justice with their stage version of his stories, reminding me about what I loved about the series: the wonderful absurdity of Sachar's universe.

The Humours' adaptation to the stage uses some inventive techniques to portray such oddities as Ms. Jewls' blackboard, talking pigtails, dead rats, the ethereal Miss Zarves, and students transmogrified into apples, and the adult cast made me quickly forget that they were adults; they portray the comically traumatized children of the 30th-floor classroom with juvenile frenzy.

This is one of the best kid shows of the year, if not the Fringe, serving justice to my fond memories of the series.

June of Arc: From the bowels of the Rarig, Sandbox Theatre presents a show equally beautiful and painful.

Heather Stone captures the transfiguration of June Cleaver's icon/cypher of 1950's maternity into a real woman, teeming with frustration, dreams deferred. It's heartbreaking to watch her veneer crack further after each commercial break, commercial breaks that only illustrate the forced fabrication of a time in American history that never existed. Her chains, pearls they may be, are no less dehumanizing.


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Storm Still: There was no instance of nudity in the one-hundred-plus minutes of this "play."

It was also awful, and abject torture to sit through.
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The Problem of the Body: Why is our society ashamed of bodily urges?: Timecodes from lights-down:

00:43 - Nude images presented in a slideshow, including artwork, photography, pornography, and paparazzi-shots of certain celebrities.

A lack of live nudity was sorely disappointing. The lecture was fascinating, though. I enjoyed this show.


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Parry Hotter and the Half-Drunk Twins: When reviewing Bard Fiction, I pondered what the experience would be like watching a parody of a show without prior experience of the source material. I was able to test the theory, though, as I have never read any of J. K. Rowling's signature series, and I have only seen the first three movies.

Tom Reed doesn't let familiarity hinder his show, though. Pop culture prepared me enough for the cursory level of Harry Potter knowledge I needed to follow the series' plot, and perhaps the lack of fondness for her novels allowed me to enjoy Reed as he highlighted the plot holes and thinly-veiled morality lessons/religion-building.

Cherry Cherry Lemon: Someone should tally the percentage of Fringe shows devoted to sex; I imagine they make up a sizable chunk of the Festival's subject matter (aside from musicals, perhaps). Most are rote sketch-comedy shows that use sex to shock, yet say nothing of gender politics or the act itself. Cherry Cherry Lemon, by contrast, creates an air of honest discussion by laughing at sex, not as a punchline, but as an undeniable urge of human nature.

Keira McDonald and Meghan Hill introduce two characters who appear as little more than the cliché female roles prevalent in so many sex-themed comedies, yet patience reveals deeper levels of complexity. And while the ending remains unsatisfying, it's clear that these women have traveled their full developmental arcs.

Hogg and the Humours: I always look forward to what the Four Humours boys bring to Fringe, and this year they've brought a sideshow distraction that was hectic, chaotic, novel, and engaging.

Following the mold of a late-night variety show, Jimmy Hogg hosts an interview show with the Humours as his "house band," performing improv in between interviews and musical guests.

I loved how natural this idea felt; sure, it seems a bit commercial, interviewing actors, directors, and musicians from other Fringe Shows (in my case, Mike Fotis, who stuck around for the improv set), but good, honest variety show is appreciated by me.


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Wants, Needs, Desires: Timecodes from lights-down:

25:57 - Copious man-ass and package stuffed into briefs.
51:21 - Man-ass reprise.

It was a pretty boring sit-through, and I wasn't exactly titillated. Your mileage (probably due to sexual orientation) may vary.


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Comedy Go!: Suggestion: Balloon.

They've promised a new show for every performance, and someone has to keep them honest, so I vowed to attend every showing of Comedy Go!

Ferrari McSpeedy make themselves comfortable in the Rarig Thrust, a space not dissimilar from their usual haunt of the Brave New Workshop, and while a 45 to 50-minute set is a longer stretch than they're normally used to, they used it to delve further into their characters, and bring together a cohesive universe for their scenework. The duo used their shared universe to make an honest connection between friends, fathers and sons, and the last scene was an emotional payoff.

I'm holding them to this "new show" idea, but I'd love to see some of the characters & themes pop back up over the next two weeks.

Monster: In my four-year Fringe experience, I've noticed that the one-man, multi-character drama tends to be the more successful format; perhaps the brief run times are more tailored to the format. Daniel MacIvor's Monster follows suit, cramming an erratic and enjoyable experience into its given slot.

The grisley subject matter of murder/dismemberment draws curiosity to the show, but actor Chris Kehoe's charisma drives the experience. He exudes a Bruce-Campbell-for-the-stage attitude as overconfident-yet-tense narrater Adam, but has no problem shifting into the distinct characters that color the story's moebius-strip plot.

This is a play that always asks why, and it's refreshing to get an unexpected response.

Bard Fiction: I've wondered how enjoyable some of the more reference-heavy shows are to those unfamiliar. It's been four or five years since I last saw Pulp Fiction, and I wasn't sure if I needed a brush-up on the film to enjoy performance. But it seems that the writers hit the major touchstones of the film, many of which are culturally ubiquitous and recognizable to even those who have not seen Tarantino's original.

I was amazed at the seamless transition of handgun to dagger, cocaine to snuff, "Bad Mother****er" to "Blasted Oedipus." The use of iambic pentameter and an Elizabethan-influenced dialect retained the spirit of the dialogue while remaining easy to follow. Standout performer Clarence Wethern, taking the classic roles of Samuel L. Jackson's "Julius" and Christopher Walken's "Koons," avoids the trap of turning two well-known roles from two oft-parodied actors into caricatures, retaining the essence of the characters.

This is a play for lovers of Shakespeare who want a good laugh at the Bard. This is a play for anyone who has ever seen Pulp Fiction, regardless of how they feel about the movie or Quentin Tarantino in general. And for those who have never seen the film, what a great way to test how ingrained into our culture the movie has become. This is a Fringe stand-out.

Livelihood: Livelihood feels much like a sketch comedy piece, with elements borrowed from Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, and Mr. Show. What benefited those troupes was the ability to tell such a story in four minutes; Livelihood suffers when stretched to 50.

The story of a job interview gone awry fits right into the Kids in the Hall-world of "Danny" and "A T & Love," and the rising absurdity of the interviewer's demands cleverly borrows from Monty Python sketches such as "Dead Parrot," "Argument Clinic," and "Cheese Shop," waiting for the payoff taxes the patience.

It's a dark show with witty dialogue (Matt Greseth relishes in the insanity of hiring manager "Mike"), and I love this setup, but the climax feels forced, and a touch predictable. For social satire, it never delivers a clear, original message on the discussion of the failing U.S. economy, save that perhaps nihilistic abandonment is the only option.


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Same as last year, I will review every show I see at the Minnesota Fringe this year, but I will only post them to my LJ, with links to it from my Twitter updates. I have sent out the warning on Facebook and Twitter, and I will repeat it here: if you do not want me to see your show, tell me now.


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Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you. (Please note: If you simply wish to comment on something I've said but don't want to participate in the meme, that is fine. I will only give you five words if you specifically comment with "Words!") [You can feel free to try; I may or may not respond depending on familiarity with you/capricious whim.]

These five answers provided by carinbrat:

  1. Improv: I owe the Art of Improvisation (since there isn't a corresponding Muse. Or is there? Someone correct me.) an extended penance for the shitty short-form we did in college. We broke every rule because we didn't know no better, and though it should have been an Edmund Fitzgerald-class wreck, we somehow garnered enough of a following to justify a weekly show. Regardless, I was done with improv after college. Then I moved to MPLS, fell back into improv through ComedySportz and the BNW, and decided to learn all I should have learned. Improv community, if you believe that I am destroying you with my presence, you have no one else to blame for my renewed interest but the biscuitpig.
  2. Anime: Some lonely, despondent teenagers seek refuge in fantasy literature, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, or sci-fi movies and TV. I happened to discover anime. I may have had a predisposition from childhood due to Voltron, but when I saw Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Ninja Scroll and Robot Carnival in high school, I had never seen anything so foreign, yet stunning and arresting. I had never seen stories told like this. Gundam Wing turned me into a giant-robot fan , as well as a collector. Since 2000, I have bought one anime DVD per month, give-or-take. My brother Benjamin and I watched a lot of anime together, thanks to Cartoon Network's "Toonami" and "[adult swim]" programming blocks, but when I moved, I had no one in the cities to talk anime with. So I'm rectifying the situation by making bupwethern watch some series and movies I think he'd enjoy. We've finished Death Note, and now we're on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I'd never make him watch anything like the nostalgia-brand Gundam series, or anything fan-servicey like Code Geass or Tenchi Muyo!, but I would like to show him Cowboy Bebop, Moribito, and maybe, maaaaaybe Outlaw Star.
  3. Crawfish: Those close to me know my crippling fear of any animal below the taxonomical class of Avian, yet I find nothing unappealing about boiling crawfish alive and savagely tearing them apart for their meat, as well as sucking the juices from their heads. If there's two things about eating crawfish that I repeat ad nauseam, it's 1) look for the ones with big claws for their delicious, delicious claw meat, and 2) always remove the "Hershey highway."
  4. Beer: I used to make fun of zmftimelord for being a "beer snob" when we were in college; he constantly expounded upon the beauty of craft beer, while I drank pitcher after pitcher of Miller High Life (Da Champagne of Beers, brah.) and threw the fact in his face. I'm not ashamed of that; you're supposed to drink terrible, cheap beer in college. Since graduating, I have evolved, and believe that I can rightly be a beer snob among my peers. My taste buds must have evolved, too. I remember hating the taste of dark beer in college, yet now I am drawn to stouts and porters. Abita Turbodog still remains my top beer choice.

  5. Hackfic: This would be in reference to my alter-ego, fictionhack. I have neglected the project for a few months sadly, but I need to recharge my juices for upcoming ideas, so I need to put in another chapter or two. I started the project with one goal in mind: to create the worst thriller imaginable, to parody "authors" like Dan Brown, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, et al. I settled on the genre of "Medical Mystery," recalling how my mother burned through the library of Robin Cook, and combined it with my love of TV procedurals. I refuse to do anything more than a cursory amount of research about medicine, anatomy, the city of Los Angeles, etc., because the more uninformed and artificial it reads, the closer I reach my goal of emptying my creativity of cultural garbage.

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Monday evening, I noticed four text messages I received from a number I did not recognize with a 985-area code:
Hey babe

Heyy mehh foxyy ladyy


Heyyy babee

Yes, I was a victim of sexy wrong-number texting.

Assuming the problem would resolve itself, I ignored them. I've fielded a few wrong-number calls on my phone since I moved to the MPLS, and I figured that this guy would realize his mistake when he sobered up on Tuesday.

I was wrong.

At 7:14 a.m. on Tuesday, I received yet another text from the same number:
Good luckk... This morning with ur dance practice

And again, during Six-Ring Circus rehearsal that night:
Heyy babee

Heyy mehh sexyy foxxyy ladiee

Heyy mehh sexyy foxxyy ladiee


Annoyed, I showed the texts to my old improv coach, tech guru Chuck, after the show, complaining that I would have to block the number. He chided me, pointing out a potentially-missed opportunity to fuck with the life of a total stranger.

I met up with bupwethern and carinbrat at Green Mill, explained the situation, and unfolded our revenge plot. It started with a text from me:
Hey cutie I missed ya

When we didn't get a response forty-five minutes later, I sent another message:
Y r u ignring me

What u mean dis is bailey rite

Oh, it was on.
U kno who it is dont fuk wit me... I m wet


At this point, I handed the phone off to bupwethern, who took his time carefully crafting the appropriate response:
U been txting me. I thought youd wanna hear about my dance practice. Ill dace 4 U";)

What ur name and i memt to send that 2 my gf my bad

Well, the jig was up. The honorable thing to do was confess:
You have been erroneously texting me for the past 48 hours. I do hope you resolve the matter with your "hot snatch." Best of luck with the poontang, dear sir.
Best regards, Tyrone Bibbins, Esq.

I haven't received a text from him since.

I had imagined a scenario, though, where I would read a story on nola.com about a young woman tragically murdered by her boyfriend, the circumstances stemming from a misunderstanding over text messages. And then, because there's something wrong with me, I imagined this:

On the season premier of Law & Order: SVU, a brutal murder, ripped from the headlines!

"What kind of monster would do this, Elliott?"

"This was about text messages, Liv!"

"You don't understand, detective! She told me she was wet!"

And you won't believe where the investigation leads them!

Duhn duhn!
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If you discovered a new planet, what would you name it?

Whites Only.

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