I'm currently in London (ON) smack dab in the middle of the Big Comedy Go-To, a brand spanking new festival that includes sketch, stand-up, improv, theatre and musical comedy on the menu at three different venues over the weekend. Though I'm primarily here to support a friend, it's an awesome opportunity for me to mix and mingle with plenty of talented artists who often make the rounds of the Fringe Festival Circuit. A full-festival pass is ridiculously cheap ($50) and allows me to see everything... and so far I pretty much have. The festivities began on Thursday night with Jimmy Hogg's Like A Virgin, a new piece which he plans to tour this summer... so new that this was in fact his first public performance. I drove into town about 15 minutes prior to curtain. I didn't think I would make it, but I am definitely glad I did. Jimmy is an incredibly hilarious and charismatic performer. He had a small but very appreciative crowd, as you can see from this review. For those of you in Southern Ontario, I highly recommend you make the trek down to the newly renovated Arts Project on Sunday at 6 p.m. To all my Ottawa friends, have no fear! You will get your chance to see Jimmy at the Ottawa Fringe Festival this June. I know I'm really looking forward to seeing it again once it's had some time to develop.
A real stand-out performance for me came shortly after with Nile Seguin's Fear of a Brown Planet at the Black Shire Pub. This guy was amazing (and he's from Ottawa). His show is a bit of a long form stand-up routine, which can often be hit or miss. However, Nile delivers a smart and witty performance that made the hour just fly by. Every joke was solid and when he was done, I still wanted more. If you ever hear that this guy is doing a show in your area, drop whatever you are doing and go see it. You will not regret it. He is also doing a show on Sunday at 6 p.m.
That said, not everything is amazing. I saw some improv which was just alright. Improv is such a tricky art form. It is really difficult to do well and I have the utmost respect for those who attempt it. I found the main problem with what I saw was that people often didn't know when to just end the scene and so they'd just keep going once the joke had peaked or they'd just go for the tried and true guy on guy action, because gay-ness is funny. Then again, if I see it done again tonight, who knows, it will be completely different and may be the best thing I see all weekend... That's the beauty of improv and theatre festivals in general: you never know what you're going to get.
So that was Thursday. On Friday, I caught The Power of Ignorance by Chris Gibbs and TJ Dawe. The show was great but I was completely distracted in the venue by people coming in and out, chairs being moved around in the room above us, and staff coming by our table to take food and drink orders (um, no I'm not hungry I'm watching a play!). The turn out for this show was also incredibly low (in fact, I heard the show that came before, Who's Afraid of Tippi Seagram? had to be canceled due to nobody showing up) which was unfortunate. Really low numbers, meaning four, for Rob Salerno's Fucking Stephen Harper too. I don't know if this had something to do with the hockey playoffs or perhaps a general lack of awareness of the Big Comedy Go-To (unless you're on Facebook, it's hard to find an online schedule). Things picked up for the London favorite, The Boneyard Man though.
I've got to head out and see more shows today, but I will leave you with the schedule in case you're in the area. Come and support your local artists. They're doing some really good stuff! I'll post more later on if I manage to find another internet connection.
SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 2009
ARTS PROJECT 2PM Passionfool: 7 Stories 90m $18 4PM Panel Discussion FREE 6PM The Circus Show (Siegfried & Roy - The Comeback/Morro's Sorrow/Steve Seguin) 75m $15 8PM Passionfool: 7 Stories 90m $18
LONDON MUSIC CLUB 6PM Rob Salerno: Fucking Harper 35m $8 6PM Chris Gibbs: Power Ignorance 75m $10 7PM Theatre Nemesis: Which is Better? 45m $8 7.30PM Who’s Afraid of Tippi Seagram? 60m $10 8.30PM Prop Knucks/Project G-Force/ Approximately 3 Peters 90m $15 8.30PM Matt Martin: King Alive/Sexual Tyrannosaurus/You Are Awesome 90m $10
BLACK SHIRE 7.30PM STAND-UP: Your Tax Dollars at Play 90m $10 10PM STAND-UP: The Big One 120m $15
SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2009
2PM Josh Cottrell and Aaron Youell: He Ain’t Heavy 60m $10 4PM Paul Hutcheson: Third Time Lucky 60m $10 6PM Jimmy Hogg: Like A Virgin 60m $10 8PM Alex Eddington: Tired Cliches 60m $10
LONDON MUSIC CLUB 6PM Four Lb. Beauty Pucks/Good Game 60m $10 7.30PM Cody Rivers/Fully Insured 90m $15
BLACK SHIRE 6PM Nile Seguin: Fear of a Brown Planet 60m $10 7.30PM STAND-UP: Open Mic 60m PWYC 10.30PM CLOSING NIGHT PARTY!