I’m doing two shows a night and getting to sleep around 5am. I see hundreds of performances a year in New York so, between these two facts, I am quite happy spending my afternoons in my friend’s Scottish garden reading and watching the sky change. However, there’s this voice of guilt in my head berating me for not ‘experiencing the Fringe’ more. Future voices of friends and family in NYC drifting into my present moments questioning me when I return, “So, you just spent the whole festival staring at clouds?”
“Well, they were particularly spectacular clouds.” I might reply but still, the poison drop’s been planted and so, I have come into town on occasion and caught a few shows of my fellow artist’s at The Gilded Balloon. And I must admit, I’m glad I have. Seeing one singular show every few days has allowed me to appreciate and process what I’ve seen. Similar to when I visit a museum and just look at three paintings, each one for quite a while. If I try to see more than that it just gets me dizzy and I end up tired and unable to absorb what I saw.
Tara Flynn – I snuck into Tara’s show a few minutes into it and left before it was over because of commitments I had made but what I got to see was delightful. Tara reminds me of NYC Antifolker Phoebe Kreutz in that both play ‘funny songs’ but through the sub-text and performance style reveal a vulnerability and open-approach to life that elevates their work and makes what they do as valid as so-called ‘regular songs’. Smart, funny and a real treat!
War Notes – Lili La Scala’s show War Notes features Lili’s beautiful classically trained voice singing vintage songs from world wars one and two along with simple piano arrangements by her accompanist. Lili appears like she stepped out of a duo-tone sepia-graph as she sings such well-known tunes as A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, We’ll Meet Again, I’ll Be Seeing You as well as obscure chestnuts like That Lovely Weekend. During the show three letters from soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are read adding a modern poignancy and realism to the performance and fueling Lili’s ability to total inhabit the emotions of these songs.
Chloe Philip – I strayed from the Gilded Balloon and popped into several Free Fringe shows around town. Unfortunately, none of the shows held my attention for more than a few minutes until I ended up at Opium and caught Chloe’s set. I know Chloe from her stay in NYC and performances at the Antihoot there and was happy to see the place was packed and the crowd was charmed by Chloe’s self-deprecating stories. Her monologue about her sudden encounters with Alan Rickham and Russell Brand were unintentionally (?) symbolic of new women performers trying to break-through the invisible force field of the male-dominated comedy scene. Chloe has the least improvised of the shows I’ve seen, she sticks to her script, but that’s a good thing in this case. The show still feels fresh each time to each new audience and it gives her the ability to concentrate on refining what works and discovering new things in the material. The result is a very funny and endearing show.
Bec Hill – The first time I went to see Bec the show was sold-out. Once I got into her show I could see why. Bec is simply delightful. The show is based on the idea that one can and should hold onto their child-like wonder of life as they navigate the passage into adulthood. Using a giant sketch-book in a way similar to Jeffrey Lewis and a few other under-stated props and lighting/sound effects Bec draws you into her world, a land where one is faced with compromises and the claustrophobic (false) realities pushed on an individual by society. But with a devilish humor she skewers those expectations laden upon her and ultimately triumphs and emerges with her hopeful curiosity of life intact…and so do we.
Rona and Beverly – I discovered this duo as a result of their asking me to guest on their show at The Pleasance. They are two LA comedians/actresses who perform as a pair of forty/fifty something Jewish yentas pushing a book on second marriages. It’s all a pretext for their hilarious improvised interviews each night with a different guest. Their ability to stay in character and improvise without missing a beat is a riotous experience and I’m hoping they’ll do some guest hosting with me at the Antihoot.
Biddy – I just have to mention this fireball who’s been gracing the stage at the Antihoot. She doesn’t have a fringe show, she’s crashing on couches and I have no idea how she’s surviving. Her sets are not polished and she sometimes looks a bit bewildered that she’s here but she has that special something that cannot be learned. A little like how I imagine Dylan first struck people when he ambled onstage at those early open mikes at Folk City. Her comedy is risky and rebellious and I’m eager to see what she brings to the world over the coming years. Very much someone to look out for.
Tanya Lee Davis – OMG! Tanya Lee is a midget. She prefers that to dwarf because she thinks midget is funnier. And funny she is. Totie Fields meets Joan Rivers by way of Lily Tomlin. She is far from physically challenged as I think she’s one of the funniest physical comedians I’ve seen. Making faces and gestures that would rival Lucille Ball on her best days. This is why the Antihoot is so much fun, you never know what sudden treasure will appear.
Caroline Rhea – Caroline seems to be adjusting to the style of the Fringe. Still a bit distracted by new motherhood. But I am so glad she came and did a set at the Antihoot because the crowd adored her. She’s much more in her element with the late-night uninhibited audience and it was a pleasure seeing her relax and just be incredibly funny. I hope she returns to the Antihoot because everyone truly loved her and she’s easily one of the best on the scene.
Celia Peachy – Celia has a show running entitled ‘Girl Constantly F***ing Interrupted’. This is my favorite show title and I really want to catch it especially after meeting her and hearing her story of incredible tragedy and how she’s getting through it and emerging as a soul warrior and accomplished actress. Unfortunately, her show is at noon when I’m still asleep! But that’s what alarm clocks are for and I have her show on my list of things to see before the Fest ends.
That’s it for now. I’m immensely enjoying the brilliant performers I’ve experienced so far at the Fringe and looking forward to more, but just for now the garden and sky are calling and I think I’ll sit and stare for a while before getting ready for my shows tonight.
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