Manitoba·Reviews

Comedy gold? Reviews of 9 more comedies at the Winnipeg Fringe Fest

From actual clowns to just clowning around, there are a lot of performers at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival who want to make you laugh.

If you're feeling like fun, these nine shows want to help you have some

Pack Animals runs July 18 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Brynne Carra Photography)

From actual clowns to just clowning around, there are a lot of performers at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival who want to make you laugh.

Here are our reviews of nine more comedies at this year's festival (and you can see our first comedy roundup here).

The After After Party runs July 18 to 27 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Sarah Mabberley/After Party Theatre)

The After After Party

★★★★★ STARS

If you're among those who don't believe high school was the best time of your life, you may have found your new queens in Jules and Fiona.

The two high school besties wake up, dishevelled and stunned, in a park, intent on breaking into the cool clique by finding their way to an after after party — but with no recollection of the past parties that led them to where they are.

As they unravel those details, the audience takes a bizarrely funny drug-and-booze-fuelled trip. Picture mixing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with a bit of The Hangover and an Adult Swim cartoon in a bathtub full of Fireball whiskey.

Performer/creators Cheyenne Mabberley and Katey Hoffman deliver great comedic performances — Hoffman's turn as the weirdly intense and utterly strange Fiona is worth the price of admission alone.

It's not for everyone, but I — and, apparently, much of a surprisingly large Thursday matinee crowd — found it weird, raunchy and hilarious fun.

— Reviewed by Joff Schmidt

Juliet: A Revenge Comedy runs July 18 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Submitted by Monster Theatre)

Juliet: A Revenge Comedy

★★★★★ STARS

Ryan Gladstone's Monster Theatre is money in the bank.

In this brand new show, written by Gladstone and Pippa Mackie, Juliet joins a bevy Shakespeare's Suicide Girls as they try to gain agency over their lives outside of the Bard's sharp and sexist quill.

Mackie, alongside Carly Pokoradi, channel the child Juliet and a fearsome Lady Macbeth along with Ophelia, Cleopatra and more. Gladstone plays a suitably foppish William of Stratford to a merry band of feminists in this time-shifting, mind-bending comedic confection.

It's cerebral without ever being inaccessible. It's comfortably cool in the handy, food-purveying King's Head Pub venue, so you'd be daft, or slow to buy, to miss out on this sure-to-sell-out gem.

— Reviewed by Lara Rae

Aaron Malkin: Dandelion runs July 18 to 27 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Chelsey Stuyt)

Aaron Malkin: Dandelion

★★★★ STARS

Imagine that your friend is a world-class performer. He's been a dad for a couple/few years now and he has some adorable videos, cute pictures and an hour's worth of anecdotes on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a parent.

If you are me, you run for the hills.

And you would be missing out because Aaron Malkin, award-winning member of Fringe-fave troupe James & Jamesy, is a delight in this ode to parenthood, Dandelion. He is masterful at engaging the audience and disarmingly vulnerable addressing his perceived failings as a dad.

Malkin hits us with his best dad jokes, a compilation of cute-things-my-kid-said segment, and then comes the butter.

In a transformative piece of physical theatre, Malkin re-enacts his son discovering and exploring a stick of butter. It is touching. It is poignant. It is hilarious. It is art.

Come for the cute kid pics, stay for the butter.

— Reviewed by Michelle Palansky

Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun runs July 17 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Five by Five Photography/Lark and Whimsy Theatre Collective)

Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun    

★★★★ STARS

Bad Baby spends much of her meta clown act proving she "knows all the rules for a great solo show" with frank, funny and unsettling stories that offer a peek into the deepest insecurities of being a red-nosed fringe performer.

To say much more than that would be to spoil an effective surprise.

I can say that Janelle Hanna is a devastatingly good performer. And she puts her considerable skills to use in ways that are entertaining, but that don't always travel the expected path. The points her clown has to make aren't always easy or comfortable ones.

I know: I'm being frustratingly cryptic. About a clown show. So ask yourself this: are you really serious about getting out to the Fringe and looking back at the well-trod ground between here and there?

If the answer is "yes," then be bad, baby, and take a chance you won't soon forget.

— Reviewed by Kelly Stifora

Pack Animals runs July 18 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Brynne Carra Photography)

Pack Animals

★★★★ STARS

It rained.

It poured rain on opening night at Stephen Juba Park. 

And we huddled together under tarps and umbrellas. Our bums got soaked but our spirits never dampened as we watched plucky campers Holly Brinkman and S.E. Grummett get soaked to the skin and perform their non-gender conforming, queer-loving hearts out in Pack Animals, a sly tribute to lessons learned summer camping.

More a revue than a play, there are songs of feminist empowerment and queer summer crushes, Hinterland Who's Who bad date puppets, a bear chase, a strip tease and that guy who is sure he knows how to build a fire way better than you do…sigh.

Pack Animals is satirical and silly with a strong message and a good slug of nostalgia, just like summer camp. Pack a bag, head for the river bank and for God's sake, do not forget your umbrella.

— Reviewed by Michelle Palansky

Six Chick Flicks…

★★★★ STARS

Six Chick Flicks... features two chicks parodying, you guessed it, six chick flicks. Namely: Titanic, Pretty Woman, Beaches, Legally Blonde, The Notebook and Dirty Dancing.

Kerry Ipema and KK Apple satirize all your favourite scenes, from Leo and Kate on the boat to Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive, with lots of wigs and social commentary thrown in.

Is it funny? Yes! Ipema and Apple squeeze as many laughs as possible out of the low-hanging fruit of rom coms.

Is it challenging? Not at all! There's no startling insight here. And if you haven't seen the movies that are being lampooned, you should probably take a pass.

But it's good to be reminded that women have come a long way since playing ditzy law students and hookers with a heart of gold. Right? ;) 

— Reviewed by Kaj Hasselriis

Chase Breyer: Part Time Substitute Teacher, Full Time Canadian Super Spy runs July 18 to 27 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Richard Leon Gauthier)

Chase Breyer: Part Time Substitute Teacher, Full Time Canadian Super Spy

★★★ STARS

In his first solo show, Rod Peter Jr. of Victoria-based Snafu Dance Theatre brings us along on the latest mission of Canadian super spy Chase Breyer: Eight days before the 2015 federal election, he must infiltrate Conservative Party headquarters and rescue captured operative Celine Dion.

Peter Jr. is instantly likable and has a ton of frenetic energy; watch him battle with robot spiders and try not to laugh. As much a send-up of Star Wars as it is of Bond movies — not that I'm mad about that — the madcap action is punctuated by the hilarious use of an old-school overhead projector.

Less successful was the Canadiana. The political commentary was lazy (casting former prime minister Stephen Harper as Darth Vader, for example), while other CanCon references felt like a cheap ploy to elicit a knee-jerk patriotic reaction. Case in point: if you're going to name check Gord Downie in your show, you'd best make it mean something.

— Reviewed by Marlo Campbell

Dear Samantha runs July 18 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Holly McGlynn)

Dear Samantha

★★★ STARS

Ms. Samantha Mann is an amateur "Agony Aunt."

Confused? Imagine if Frasier Crane and Dear Abby birthed a prim, middle-aged British etiquette columnist and you're in the ballpark. Oh, and she's played by a man in drag.

As Samantha, Charles Adrian Gillott delivers a finely-tuned performance that is more down-to-earth than the show description suggests. Samantha may not have the answer to your problem, but she promises to at least "kick it around" a bit.

"What if my husband loves his dogs more than he loves me?"

"Can I tell my new son-in-law that he's an ass?"

These are just a few of the audience-submitted questions Samantha tackled in her debut Winnipeg performance. By turns humorous and heartfelt, the show came to life when Gillott turned from Samantha's own stories to advice on real-life problems from the audience.

Unfortunately, it's only an hour in to this overlong show that Dear Samantha delivers on its advice-giving promise.

So stick around and submit a question — you'll be glad you did. 

— Reviewed by Andrew Friesen

Larry runs July 18 to 28 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Submitted by Candy Bones Theatre)

Larry

★★★ STARS

When the performer doesn't show, good ol' Canadian boy Larry from Moose Creek, B.C., steps in to save the day with dick jokes and self-help advice.

Candice Roberts's Larry is a walking caricature of unenlightened, small-town masculinity — an obliviously sexist and homophobic beer-guzzling headbanger with a lifetime of repressed emotions and an egregious vocabulary.

Credit where it's due: Roberts is a fearless performer who puts herself out there — quite literally — and her physical humour is on point. Fully committing to both character and schtick, she confronts stereotypes by leaning into them, running each gag into the ground. Fans of Andy Kaufman or Sacha Baron Cohen will probably find her hilarious. I understood the intent but didn't really enjoy the experience.

The show's climax is a meditation-induced epiphany in which Larry is forced to confront a new perspective on life. It's unclear if we're to empathize or laugh.

— Reviewed by Marlo Campbell

With files from Joff Schmidt, Lara Rae, Michelle Palansky, Kelly Stifora, Kaj Hasselriis, Marlo Campbell and Andrew Friesen

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