London Fringe Festival

One Down, Seven to Go


Wow. Is it really over already? This morning, my producing partner, Natalie Watson and I packed up our VW Passat (courtesy of the fine folks at Hunt Club Volkswagen in Ottawa), said goodbye to our awesome billet, Peter, and headed out on the road to Montreal. See ya later, London! The London Fringe Festival went pretty well for me. I had decent sized houses, incredibly enthusiastic audiences (some people even saw the show twice) that bought plenty of RDSMS merchandise, and actually walked away with money in my pocket. I also love that my final payout was waiting for me by the time I was done my last show. The staff and volunteers were great and unbelievably supportive. I saw festival producer, Kathy Navackas, at everything, including the NO Show, which was the late-night cabaret organized by Jayson McDonald. The cabaret was tons of fun and the staff at the Poacher's Arms were the absolute best! If the Fringe could manage to keep that space as a venue while working out the sound issue, this place would be perfect. My documentary team also had a great time. Maybe too good...

We've collected awesome footage for the documentary. The team followed me to the Fringe Preview, tech rehearsal and first performances. They were at almost every NO Show and filmed plenty of the activities there. We have interviews with Kathy Navackas, Jayson McDonald, Keith Brown, Bill Pats, God, Kurt Fitzpatrick, a retiring Reverend Nudgent, and my billet, Peter Janes. Oh and not enough can be said about my amazing billet. Not only has he been a huge supporter of this tour and documentary, but he also generously took in 3 wandering artists who took over half of his apartment for almost 2 weeks. Thank you, Peter!

If you want to see more about where we were living, check out my director's earlier vlog:

VLOG - Filming away from Wolf Pelt Productions on Vimeo.


Other than that, he's a random list of things I really liked about my time in London, ON:

  • Slushy sake drinks with umbrellas from the Poacher's Arms, which we often got for free because the manager is awesome.
  • The Early Bird Dinner and their Fat Elvis - that's peanut butter, honey, panko crusted bananas and house cured bacon smooshed between French Toast and drizzled in maple syrup with powder sugar on top.


  • $1 tacos & beers at Jacks - locals will tell you not to go, because it attracts just the type of clientele you imagine it would. But some on! $1 tacos!
  • The weather was great! And we had multiple access to pools and gyms throughout our time here.
  • High-fiving Fringe Volunteers!
  • The Convent Gardens Market - fresh groceries and cheap eats. Not to mention random 6/49 hammocks & free lemonade.

    A hard day's work in London.

Fringe Crushes:

For Nancy - Mike Delamont of God is a Scottish Drag Queen

For Natalie - Bob Brader of Spitting in the Face of the Devil

For Cory - Jayson McDonald of Magic Unicorn Island

And now, as I write this in the car, we are getting closer and closer to Montreal. The next leg of our adventure begins. I'm slightly concerned. Since I've been in London, Montreal has already started. I've had little to no advertising in the media, no posters are up and, since I have to tech right before my first show, I won't be able to flyer. So, I ponder: Is anyone coming?


Roller Derby Saved My Soul runs from June 16 to June 23, 2014 at the Montreal Fringe Festival.

Injured Midway Through the London Fringe


Cover girl.

Well, here we are at what is ostensibly, for me, the half-way mark of the London Fringe Festival. This has definitely been a wonderful place to start my first leg of the tour and ease into a new version of the script. The advanced press has been fantastic, the reviews great and the people watching the show stick around after to tell me how much they loved it. I've even sold more merch in this city than I did in Montreal or Edmonton last year. I have to say, my biggest thrill comes from running into folks wearing my shirts while I'm flyering a line-up.

With my biggest little fan!

Unfortunately, I ran into the reviewer from the London Free Press over the weekend and he told me he probably wasn't going to make it out to my show. With two performances left, even if he made it out for my 10 p.m. on Thursday, I'm not sure the review would even be out on time for my Friday show. This is unfortunate because I think not being reviewed by THE major publication in town has affected my ticket sales. I can't prove this, of course, but I know it's a factor.

In other news, I also had a pretty bad scare that I might lose a toenail. On my first night in town, after the Fringe preview, I was packing up my beautiful new banner while speaking to a fellow performer. The banner slipped out of my hand and the metal stand landed directly on my left index toe, near the nail bed. Now it hurt like a mother and even bled a little, but I did what I always do in these situations: curse a whole bunch and then try to walk it off. The Fringe volunteer coordinator saw what happened and found me a band-aid and some ice, which I kept trying to refuse because I was just embarrassed by the whole situation. For the next two days it hurt to walk. It didn't feel any better shoved into a tight roller skate either. I put ice on it at night and didn't see any additional bruising, so I was relieved that it wasn't broken. I took the band-aid off on Friday, saw that my toe was bruised beneath the nail, shrugged it off and went on my merry way in sandals to Toronto for an audition. I stayed there overnight and as I was getting ready to head back to London the next day, I felt a wetness on my foot. I looked down and saw that my nail bed was now bleeding profusely. I had a minor panic attack as my old roommate let me wash my foot in her tub, cover the toe in polysporin and wrap a fresh band-aid over it. My panic stemmed mostly from the thinking that if I lost a toenail it would not grow back. Somehow the thought of never having a proper pedicure again was on par with some of the worst world crises. Yeah... I've got my priorities straight.

Stupid banner! This is all your fault... oh, who am I kidding. I can't stay mad at that face.

Almost a week later and the toe has not yet fully healed, though the nail seems to still be hanging on. The show is on pause for the next two days so I hope that may stop some of the bleeding that is still happening. Funny though that I always thought if I got injured doing a roller derby show, it would be for a cool reason in a badass way. You know, for actual derby reasons and not just clumsy ones.

And yes, we have a caught a lot of this splendid grossness on film. Is it weird I almost want to lose the nail now because it would make for a more interesting narrative? "Hey guys, false alarm, my toe's all better now," just doesn't have the same kick to it.

Filming is going well. My team is off doing interviews today while I do admin work and head to the gym. I'll be catching quite a few shows tonight, so if you're in London, Ontario, come on down to the Fringe and say hi to the gal in the smelly roller derby tank top with the busted toe.

Roller Derby Saved My Soul is on for two more nights during the London Fringe Festival at the McManus Studio Theatre on Thursday, June 12 at 10 p.m. and Friday, June 13 at 7 p.m.

It's a Brand New Derby


On Saturday, we had the first table read of my revised draft of Roller Derby Saved My Soul. And I think I made my sound designer's head explode. Pictured here on the left, pre head explosion.

You see, it's a different show now. And I didn't realize how different until he pointed it out. In my mind, I had moved a scene here, cut out another one there... sure there was some new content, but it wasn't that much, was it? And he, consummate professional that he is, now wants to create some new music to go with this new version of the show.

That's why I was so happy to finally read this new version to a group of people, so I could hear this kind of feedback. I feel really good about it. For a long time, though I loved the old version of Roller Derby Saved My Soul, I always felt it was more like popcorn: light and fluffy but without much sustenance. Now, the new show structure, without losing any of its heart and humour, feels more grounded.

The brilliant Tania Levy has been instrumental in helping me develop the piece. We work incredibly well together. To the point where I think she might be reading my mind. Folks, I can't say this enough, but you should really hire Tania for all your projects. All of them. She will make them magic and I think we could all use a little more magic in our lives.

So all this to say that if you saw Roller Derby Saved My Soul in the past few years, you should come and check it out again this summer because it will be a very different experience. Tickets are selling fast for Ottawa. And they are now on sale for both the London Fringe Festival and the Montreal Fringe Festival.

And if you're curious, the documentary campaign is going very well. Please consider making a contribution to our Indiegogo campaign and make this film about life On the Fringe happen!

So You Think You're Funny?

After a terrible drive through construction, past accidents and the Toronto rush hour parking lot, that took 8 hours instead of the usual 6 and a half, I finally made it to London late enough to miss the first evening performance of The Big Comedy Go-To by Jimmy Hogg. The second show of the evening was The Canuck Cabaret with Paul Hutcheson and Sharon Nowlan. Now, I’ve spoken of my love for Paul before. He’s an amazing storyteller and an incredibly charming performer. He’s also one of the funniest people I’ve ever seen, so I was excited for this new bit. I had never met Sharon before but chatting with her at the bar afterward we had one of those “How have we never met before since we know so many of the same people” kind of conversations.

The show really did not disappoint. It was exactly what it said it would be: a cabaret filled with musical numbers, stories, dance, and even an incredibly brilliant and moving light show by Sharon. If someone saw the show and knows what those things she was using are called, please let me know below!

My only critique is that I would like to have seen them do more bits together. They started off strong with a hilarious opening musical number; Paul told new stories similar to what he does in his one man shows; Sharon did an amazing silent piece with a doll on her shoulder and her right arm as they danced and flirted together to some Sinatra (you really have to see this to believe it, I can't describe it well enough - it was incredible!); some individual stories about Canada; light show; and Paul closed everything on a 3 minute reenactment of Dirty Dancing that made me want to go watch the movie. Though funny the movie bit felt kind of anti-climactic. Perhaps a closing number together would tie things up nicely?

After that, we headed to the Black Shire Pub for THE BIG ONE! A stand-up cabaret where most of this weekend’s performers were going to be participating. I grabbed myself a good seat near the front and I was thrilled when I realized the first person up would be ELVIS! And he threw another scarf at MEEEEEEEEE!!! OMG! OMG! OMG! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


I’m sorry. Where was I?

Oh yeah, the stand-up.

Throughout the evening, many of the performers asked why I wasn’t participating. To be honest, I didn’t really see myself in the same league as these people. Most of them have toured extensively with their own material and regularly do things like stand-up, improv and sketch. Me? I feel like I’m just a novice. And I’ve only recently begun to feel, after seeing the crowd at the Airport Security screening bust a gut at my on-screen antics, that I am even that funny.

But watching my friend Cristel Bartelse up there bravely testing out some hilarious new material from her upcoming Fringe show (coming to a London Fringe near you!) did a little voice inside my head go: “Hey. I can do that.”

Maybe it was the beer talking. It could very well have been the beer talking, but watching performer after performer go up there, the voice got louder. Suddenly, I started getting this nagging feeling that I HAD to go up there. If I didn’t, I would regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Soon. And for the rest of my life. I turned to Christel and spoke out loud: “I have to go up there.” Her smile was wide and encouraging. “Do it!”

I walked over to producer Jayson McDonald. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no material planned but still I asked: “Do you have room?” He sent me over to the host with an urgent “If you want to do it, do it now.”

The host, Kristian Reimer looked amused by my request. I still didn’t know what I was going to say. Then I caught the current performer talking about vampires and the Twillight phenomenon. Bingo! I had my opening bit. “I have to go up now.” Ian MacIntyre from Approximately 3 Peters was wrapping up his set. “Ok,” Kristian said, “you’re up.”

I think I threw up in my mouth a little.

I was announced, there was music, I made my way up to the stage and set my beer down on a stool like every professional comic I’d ever seen.

Taking my cue from the previous set, I started: “I think vampire slaying would be a very difficult career move.”

There’s a chuckle. I’m awkward but in a completely adorkable way.

“I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to stab someone in the chest before…”


Guffaw, really? Someone guffawed? And I was off!

I talked some more vampire slaying and Dustbusters and ideal careers and Princess Leia and my new found obsession with the King. It was surprisingly easy to flow from topic to topic. It was like writing a blog post, but out loud.

I finished on a good note. People clapped and some more funny people took to the stage, bringing down the house. It was a grand evening. I got a lot of really great comments and feedback throughout the night from people I absolutely adore and respect. For my first attempt at any kind of stand-up, it was not bad. Not bad at all.

Today’s the last day of the festival (already?) and I’m now off to enjoy as much as I can. There’s still time for you to check out a free panel discussion with some of the performers, a show by Uncalled For (my former billets who won Best Ensemble with this one at the Ottawa Fringe), a sketch comedy triple bill, an improve triple bill and finally an IMPROV CAGE MATCH!

For all the details, check out The Big Comedy Go-To website.

Nancy's MUST SEE List at the Winnipeg Fringe

Many of you probably remember my MUST SEE List for the Ottawa Fringe Festival. It was, after all, one of my top posts in June. I figured it would be nice to do the same thing for the Winnipeg Fringe. Now, this list won't be as extensive as the Ottawa one for the following reasons: 1) I don't have a VIP pass in Winnipeg which means seeing lots of shows could potentially become an expensive endeavor; 2) If I saw your show at this year's Ottawa Fringe, I probably won't see it again in Winnipeg; 3) I don't know as many companies and their work in Winnipeg - new shows will probably be added to my list, but I might not blog about them all; 4) I'm in a new city and will need to spend a lot of my time promoting my own show.

Speaking of which, if you happen to be in Winnipeg (or know people who will be) between July 16 to 26, 2009, you should definitely come out and see No Exit Upstage. Buy your tickets in advance by clicking the link in order to guarantee a spot!

Why should you see my show? Well, here are some amazing reviews from the Ottawa Fringe to wet your whistle.

Alright, now on to my list, in alphabetical order:

52 Pick Up I saw this show quite a few years ago in Ottawa when it was done by super couple Natalie Joy Quesnel and Stewart Matthews. This time it is performed by the amazing Gemma Wilcox, whose one-woman shows have always been ahit. It is written by Fringe God, TJ Dawe, and the description really says it all - "52 cards. 52 scenes about a relationship. Two actors shuffle, throw, pick up and play all 52 scenes. NO TWO SHOWS THE SAME!" If it's in all caps, you know they are serious. It's a very fun show and I can't wait to see it again... sort of. CRUMBS again for the first time I saw these guys when I was in Toronto for the COMBUSTION festival. They were impressive to watch. A very tight and dynamic improv experience. Plus, like most good improv, it takes place in a bar.

Fall Fair Boat Load was hands down my favorite show at the Ottawa Fringe Festival last year. Jayson McDonald (creator of the Big Comedy Go-To) wasn't in Ottawa this year since it overlapped with the London Fringe Festival, so I'm looking forward to seeing his new offering in Winnipeg.

Jake's Gift Ok, I'm cheating a bit because I did recently see this in Ottawa during the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. However, Jake's Gift represents everything I adore about performance: a compelling story created with love and passion, told through very simple and truthful means. Frankly, it was the only show during the MNTF that I absolutely adored and I would see it again. Scratch that. I will see it again and I'm bringing friends. Spiral Dive: Episode Two Spiral Dive: Episode One was a beautiful show I had the privilege of seeing in Ottawa. It even won an award for Outstanding Drama. I look forward to checking out the second installment of the trilogy in Winnipeg. It may be difficult however, since rumour has it they have already sold out all their advance tickets for the production.

So there are my top 5 picks for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Feel free to check out the full show list and let me know what you would see.