Comedian Taking It to the Fringe

This year I will completely, absolutely and wholeheartedly do my best to not start my articles with hyperbole!

Indeed, for an opening joke, I chose a particularly weak one … call your ombudsman.

I have quite a lot on my mind as time marches forward into 2008. You see, this year I’ll be taking a show I wrote to fringe festivals in Canada. Well, Winnipeg and Saskatoon at least.

A fringe festival is generally an unjuried theatre arts festival, as in they don’t screen any of the works thus allowing any schmuck with verve and a show the freedom to produce a work for a festival audience.

All you need to do is apply, pay a fee and hope they pick your name out of the hat. Festivalgoers get the chance to see a few dozen shows for a fairly cheap price.

Some great exposure for an artist and theatrical thrills for everyone.

A couple of years ago, on a trek across Canada, I stopped in Saskatoon for a visit and, as it happened, the Fringe was on. My fortune turned for the greater as prolific Yukon artist, Dave Haddock, was there.

I saw five shows in one day: a kids acrobatic show, a one-man piece about getting stuck in Gander during 9-11, a brilliantly weird thing called Gloomology, a funny monologue about breaking in as a Dominatrix and, of course, Dave’s wonderfully dark show.

The streets were packed with revellers, actors, comedians, buskers and magicians. Indeed, I was easily caught up in the festival spirit.

I’m normally a sucker for street magicians anyway, but when you fill the streets with thousands of other suckers, it gets pretty exciting.

I joined Dave afterwards, on a patio with other Fringe artists, as they chatted about their tribulations on the road. People who are willing to avoid regular meals, beds and sanity for most of the summer are interesting people to tip a glass with, lemme tell ya.

And now it’s my chance to get my feet into that festival world.

As Dave can attest to, it’s not particularly glamorous. There’s a weird essence of cutthroat bonhomie between all the artists. Every company is doing about five shows in the span of about a week. You generally don’t have the choice of venue or what time of day your show will start. So now it’s you and the rest of your artistic brethren competing for that audience.

Ticket prices are kept low, so this isn’t much of a moneymaking operation for anyone (other than the host city). It really is all about exposure, reaching as many people as you can with your work and sharing with other like-minded artists.

So I might be spending the next few months wandering down Main Street in an imitation of Rick Moranis doing an imitation of George Carlin (SCTV, don’t ask), as I churn ideas in my head. I’m a big fan of butter, so I hope this will come naturally.

For the curious few, my show is called Blasphemy. I know, I’m a naughty atheist.

This summer, one big, networking, theatre free-for-all funfest … and me.

Anthony Trombetta, along with Claire Ness, is the co-host of Coaster’s Comedy every other Monday at 9 p.m. He will perform Blasphemy for your next children’s party or funeral if you contact him at [email protected]

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