Manitoba·Reviews

Short and (hopefully) sweet: 4 sketch comedy shows at the Winnipeg Fringe

Looking for the next Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live or Baroness von Sketch Show? You might just find it at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

From stroke jokes to a medley of mistakes, you've got sketch comedy options at the 2019 Fringe

Comedy Records Presents: Jay and Eytan runs July 18 to 26 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Shawn McPherson)

Looking for the next Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live or Baroness von Sketch Show? You might just find it at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

Here are our reviews of four sketch comedy shows at this year's fest.

Comedy Records Presents: Jay and Eytan runs July 18 to 26 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Shawn McPherson)

Comedy Records Presents: Jay & Eytan

★★★★ STARS

Jay Wells L'Ecuyer and Eytan Millstone are two Canadian comedy performers now rooted in New York. They have an affable rapport: casual, but lacking true wit.

Not every slice-of-life vignette works, but the duo are clever enough to create an hour that builds in skill and joke quality to a satisfying, energetic end.

If you were born in the '80s, you'll find much of the material fun, relatable, amusing and nostalgic. They're easy on the attention span, too, like a well done meme on a Monday morning.

Some of Jay and Eytan's comedy choices fall into old trope; it's only a matter of time before one of them is shirtless. All attempts to make Eytan cool and Jay less so seemed forced.

But overall there are plenty of good laughs that punch up, not down, and where things might get a bit dirty, there was great effort to read the room.

Worth a visit, TBH. 

— Reviewed by Lara Rae

Goat: A Sketch Comedy Revue

★★★ STARS

In sketch comedy, energy is everything, and the two-member sketch comedy group TwoSon have the non-stop flow of energy that makes the Goat comedy machine go.

Sketches run the gamut from a grisly game of I Spy in a Titanic lifeboat, to a sensible Cineplex edict against harmonicas in the theatre, to an awkward roommate conversation to discuss the "disrespectful number of goats in the apartment." 

Those are the good bits.

The material was a little thin. How thin was it? So thin that in a 45-minute set they took a couple of minutes to crowdsource good eats in the city. 

The references were a little dated. You know you're reaching back when you open the hood of your car for a police inspection and find Xzibit inside munching on a Hot Pocket. That is hella funny but not exactly topical.

Goat is solid sketch silliness.

— Reviewed by Michelle Palansky

Strokes of Genius

★★★ STARS

There may not always be dignity in the world of stroke recovery and rehab, but Dianna Rasing and Mitch Krohn have managed to find plenty of humour.

Rasing and Krohn, who both survived strokes in 2016, decided to take their "different strokes" and mine those difficult experiences for laughs.

The result is this scrappy little sketch show. While it doesn't rise to the level of genius, it's an enjoyable hour of stroke jokes from the only people allowed to tell them. 

Rasing, Krohn and their troupe are comedy newbies, and it shows. The sketches are hit-and-miss and could use a little more workshopping.

But audience members will come away with a new perspective on what it means to survive a stroke. Who knew brain damage could be so funny?

— Reviewed by Andrew Friesen

My Mistake runs July 18 to 26 at the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. (Submitted by The Debutantes)

My Mistake

★★ STARS

Edmonton sketch comedians The Debutantes struggled gamely with a crowd at their opening matinee that just didn't seem to appreciate their sense of humour — but even with a more lively audience, much of their material would likely still fall short of hilarious.

They take a clever approach, loosely theming their sketches around the concept of "mistakes." So we get everything from a recurring character who misunderstands business signage (like who exactly gets the blood at a blood donor clinic) to a pair of unintentionally vulgar ad pitchmen. 

The five-member troupe commits to the sketches and shows some good comedic chops, but in too many cases, the premises are just too thin to maintain a solid sketch.

There's certainly talent here, and it'd be a mistake to dismiss this troupe — but they need to give themselves sharper material to work with.

— Reviewed by Joff Schmidt

With files from Lara Rae, Michelle Palansky, Andrew Friesen and Joff Schmidt

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