I know how to make people laugh in a different way than I used to.
—Shelby Bond, performer
Shelby Bond is a familiar face to many Fringe goers.
He's performed here for the last decade in a series of shows, including some time with noted comedy troupe Sound & Fury. But this year, Bond is back with a more personal show, one that digs into his upbringing with an alcoholic, Hell's Angel father.
Read: CBC's review of Shelby Bond: People Pleaser
It's a bit of a departure for the actor and comic, but not entirely so. Bond has chosen to root around in some dark memories with a light touch, highlighting the personal stories with a comedic sensibility.
"I think that when we're still afraid to deal with something, we're not
going to talk about it as much," he says. "They say tragedy plus time equals comedy and I think I'm ready to laugh about it so I hope other people are too."
For Bond, the timing felt right to perform this one man show, especially since he had the perfect venue in mind.
"I honestly would not premiere this
show anywhere but Winnipeg. If I didn't have the support system of the
theatre community in Winnipeg to premiere this show I don't know that I
would," he explains.
"Over the past decade we've kind of been on a journey together, I
started out telling penis jokes, and now I'm talking about something so
intimate that I've been able to evolve over the years to be able to talk
In a way, the genesis for this show was kind of thrust upon him. A few years ago, he broke his leg in Edmonton and had to spend almost three months in bed recovering.
when you're forced to just sit with yourself that long, you have to stop
blaming other people," Bond says. "You think you're the hero
but all you're doing by that is ignoring that you might be a problem
Bond explains his people pleasing patterns spilled over into his romantic relationships, as he tried to embody the role of white knight he'd become accustomed to playing - however comedically - onstage.
"My last and most major relationship was with a girl that ended up as
a stripper and a coke addict. When we first started dating she wasn't
but she kind of spiraled into patterns of addiction and self-damage to
deal with the problems in her past," he says.
"And I definitely learned you can't
save anybody. By the time she was on her third DUI and sent off to jail,
I was still trying to save her. And you can barely save yourself, much
less anybody else."
But make no mistake, Bond isn't out to stir up pity from his audience. He embraced the writing of People Pleaser
as a kind of catharsis.
"I'm from the South, I'm originally from Texas where you're supposed to, by law, repress all emotions. And so that's what I did for a long time....letting it all out is actually so freeing. So I've been having a lot of fun writing a show about awful things," he laughs.
After all, everyone, even Fringe performers who start out telling penis jokes, eventually start looking for new punchlines.
"I know how to make people laugh in a different way than I used to," Bond says. "I used to go for the cheap and easy laugh, but I feel like I've learned how to make people laugh about something more serious. To take something that people don't normally laugh about and make it funny is kind of a triumph to me."Shelby Bond - People Pleaser plays at Venue 24 during the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.