Keeping Your Head Above Water

Blink once and you’re trying to stay awake driving to Montreal in a rental car because your own recently decided the breaks didn’t want to work and the tires were on strike. Blink again and you’re over two weeks later, riding first class on a VIA Rail train, eating zucchini, potatoes and scrambled eggs that taste vaguely like ham, even though I don’t remember if it said ham on the menu, and sleeping off the two-week long blur that was the Festival St-Ambroise FRINGE Montréal.

This was my first experience ever performing in a Fringe Festival. I’ve attended some Fringe festivals in the past, notably last year in Toronto and my last summer in Ottawa, where I volunteered in exchange for a few free performances. Let me tell you folks, performing is a whole nother ball game!

But one totally worth mentioning in CCC as the next great leap into comedy performance outside the protective walls of clown college. Even though clown college helped out a bit along the way. The truth is, Fringe is tough! In general, and particularly when you have to leave half-way through the festival to go back to your day-job on those few days you don’t have shows.

I ain’t no Spring chicken any more either, if you know what I’m saying. When I drive somewhere and arrive at 2am, I find it pretty damn tough to be fresh as a daisy and raring to go the next day. Which, apparently, is crucial in promoting your Fringe show. Luckily, my trusty partner was available and on location throughout the entire duration of the Montreal Fringe, and did more than her share of promoting, being interviewed, flyering, postering and chatting to friends and strangers alike trying to promote our show.

One thing I’ve learned, is that it’s helpful to have a tag-line. And I totally just thought about that, even though it makes sense, as that’s precisely what you need if you’re pitching TV shows, or movies or whatever because inevitably, people will ask over and over again “What’s your show about?” When your show is entitled “Water Wings,” it’s sortof vague, (which is amazing and appropriate, because vague is the French word for wave… oh I amuse myself,) it helps to have a quick, catchy way to summarize it in order to peak people’s curiosities and spark their desire in seeing your show.  With help from our wonderful director Pamela Barker, we’ve settled on a theme, rather than a tag.  And that theme is transitions.  Water Wings are a major transition – they help keep you afloat while you’re learning to swim on your own.  Just as each of our scenes, in one way or another, reflect transitions, both actual and metaphorical – relationships beginning and ending, people growing and learning, half-genie/half-horses using magical powers to turn people into inanimate objects.  You know, life!

Blink once again and you’re at the airport, waiting for your delayed late-night flight to Winnipeg, ready to do it all again.

Debt’s Ugly B***hole

I’m normally smarter than this, and know better than to stay up past 12 if I have to work all day and take a four hour flight immediately afterwards, inevitably landing somewhere I’ve never been before.  Actually.  Come to think of it, that situation hasn’t really arisen as of yet. Normally I wouldn’t have had to work.

People have been telling me I’m lucky to get the time off work to go to the Fringe, but am I?  When I got hired, I made my ulterior career goals known.  If the aim in hiring administrative support is retention, then really, if I want to go to Winnipeg for 3 weeks, and take a day off here or there throughout the year afterwards, jeez.  Just let me be.

I realize this is a silly thing to say and that people work for the tiny amount of time they are granted off, considering the amount of hard work and effort goes into surviving just the day, let alone the week, the year, the 30+ years to feed your family, pay off your mortgage and retire comfortably, but damnit.  I don’t feel that’s me.

In a dreamworld, I would fly out to Winnipeg, someone would catch my show and think: “my these girls are damn gifted writers, here:  have your pick of TV shows to write on, or radio shows, here’s something I want to pay you to write” etc.  If only it were that simple.  If only I had those 8 + travel time hours a day I use up to go to work Monday to Friday, to stay at home and get my ideas written down, my creativity challenged, that would be the best.  But debt is sticking out its nasty butthole right in my face, and it’s damn stinky and needs to be payed back.  Like, now.  Or else light a match or something, because peeeeee-yew!

So, post-Winnipeg, it’s belt-tightening time. But until then, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come check out our show!  FOR REAL!  It’s really good!  And it’s a lot more fun when there’s more people in the audience!  COME ON!!!! I NEEEEEEEEED THIS!

I mean.  *Brie gets up from the floor.

Good night everyone.

Fringe Benefits

*cough, cough*

So, can you guess my big news?

That’s right folks, Brie’s off to the Montreal & Winnipeg Fringe Festivals!  And no, not just to watch!  (Or live-Tweet)  But to perform!  Oh yes, to perform!  Erin Rodgers has graciously invited me to write and co-star in a one-hour sketch extravaganza!

Lake Erie.jpg

Our newly-formed duo; Lake Erie.

OK, so the picture doesn’t really do much, but that’s the best I could come up with with my 10 minutes left of break at work today. (So glad the past two jobs I’ve worked have MS Publisher!)

Anyhoo, so Erin & I are going to be writing up a storm over the next little while and bringing a brand-new hour-long sketch show to the Fringe Festivals in both Montreal and Winnipeg entitled …

Water Wings

Stay tuned as news of this awesome and epic adventure develops!

I Did Stratford

The Stratford edition of Comedy Before the Frost is now history and marks the first out-of-town comedy show I’ve produced (well, co-produced.)

I think I would qualify it as a success in that people we do not know were in attendance and paid money to listen to us tell jokes.  Not thousands of people, but people.  One of whom had reserved in advance for a group – as a birthday celebration.  We were part of someone’s major life event!  (If you consider a birthday a major life event, which I do.)

I was especially touched when I noticed my good pals from Sarnia in the crowd; friends I’ve known since high school (actually, I think I knew Josée before high school, she can correct me if I’m wrong,) who’d made the trek down specifically to see me perform.  That’s dedication, folks. That’s friendship.  They traveled further than I did to get to that venue.  These two are the best kind of people there is.  Afterwards, they treated us comics to drinks and billiards, which is like…gold for comics.  Sweet liquid, billiard-y gold.

Jerry Shaefer, our host, performed some really funny, interesting and unique stuff – which I was really excited to see because it didn’t fit in with the regular run-of-the-mill host.  He took some time to look into work we’d all done in the past, which was really nice and considerate – and he told stories, played characters and was just damn delightful to watch perform.  The birthday-boy was especially excited when he found out Jerry used to be on the Red Green show.  Apparently he was a huge fan.

We also made connections that will hopefully lead to more shows in Stratford, a lovely town in which to perform.  A town you KNOW values live entertainment.

If thy beist thou boyfriend

But first, time to get our sights set on Ottawa and Montreal.   I’m hoping for a bigger crowd for both these shows, and to recognize a few friendly familiar faces.

Also, more liquid billiard-y gold would be nice.

Camping Tips

The first thing I did when I got back from camping was clean out my fridge.  I don’t know what that was about.  I guess after just one single night out of living without amenities, something sparked in me in the way of:

“Brie, you live indoors, in a comfy apartment.  Maybe you shouldn’t let food rot in your fridge because a) it smells, and b) if you lived in the wild and you kept things the way you keep them at home, you would have been mauled by a bear a long time ago.”

“I think I smell expired buttermilk in here!”

 

Brie’s Advice

Live each day as if you were camping, knowing that if you do the slightest thing wrong, you’ll be eaten by a vicious bear.

Brieviews: Fringe Edition Part 2

I was finally able to check out a few more Fringe shows after a lovely improv class down at the Second City Training Centre.  I made my way over UofT’s campus for a switch from solo performances to an evening of ensemble casts.

Fringe Show # 3 ->  I will never listen to Annie Lennox the same way ever again.

A friend of mine highly recommended Tony Ho’s Sad People – and I was happy to find out it fit into my schedule last night because I never got around to seeing these guys during the last year’s TOsketchfest.  Finally, my time had come to be weirded out by their talent.   I chugged a beer at a nearby O’Grady’s Pub and proceeded to climb the many stairs up to the Robert Gill theatre for, I’m not afraid to say it, one of the weirdest and most wonderful performances I’ve ever seen.  They’re really nothing like other sketch comedy troupes in the city.  Though bizarre and hilarious, there’s a powerful humanity behind a lot of their sketches and monologues – as depressing as that may sound, particularly in the case of the guy who wanted to put his 51 year-old mother in a home.  I was impressed at the strong, very real emotions the characters could portray, for a comedy show, especially in the nurse/patient scene – even though one of the characters’ face was covered with gauze throughout the entire sketch.  (I’m thinking just the shy side-to-side movement on his wheelchair spoke volumes!)  My favourite sketch of the show had to be the time traveling one.

So many good ideas!  Such great performances.  And cool guest performances.  If you’re into sketch comedy, you should check out Tony Ho for sure.  Here’s what they’ve got left, Fringe-wise:

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Two days left!  Check ’em out!

Fringe Show #4 ->  Not the War of 1812 I learned about in high school!

I ran over from UofT to Spadina (not a very far run) to catch the National Theatre of the World’s performance of “The Soaps” A Live Improvised Soap Opera.  Another one of their formats I’d never seen before, but equally as hilariously entertaining as the Carnegie Hall Show and the Script Tease Project.  This edition of the Soaps had a background of the War of 1812, which had a certain fun significance for me because I used to give tours in a Niagara-on-the-Lake historic home that was used as a field hospital during the War of 1812.  If you live in Southern Ontario, particularly near or on the Niagara River, you’re gonna year a lot of stuff about 1812, at school and otherwise.  This year happens to be the bicentennial of the war.  (I really think they should take this production down to the Niagara Region – there’s huge 1812 hooplah going on down there this summer – I bet tourists would go CRAZY over it!)  But I digress.  The cast, composed of some heavy-hitting Second City alum, played British, American and First Nations characters as their stories entwined over issues of romance, betrayal, drama… and corn!  Every night is a new story with the Soaps, so I URGE you to see this one because if you like good improv, and I mean really great, nothing beats it kindof improv,  you will lose your SHIT over this one.  Only three days remaining at St. Vlad’s!

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(I can say lose your shit in a review right?  Whatever.  It’s my blog.  I’ll write what I want.)

Finally… A Different Kind of Review –

I’d like to post a review of the car break-in I experienced last night.  Nothing on the car was broken or destroyed, which is a plus.  Well done, jerkoffs.  (Which leads me to believe I may have left my doors unlocked, but that’s not likely.  It’s like, automatic behaviour for me to lock my car after paying for parking.)  I DID, however, leave the windows open SLIGHTLY so the car wouldn’t be stifling when I got back from my Fringe-hopping.  That must have been it.  When I got back to my car, all my CDs had been taken, as had my change in the ashtray.  I worry some of the former car-owner’s old mail was taken, but go figure, they didn’t take the shitty $15 fan I bought at Canadian Tire as a substitute for my broken car air conditioner.  Luckily, I’d just emptied my car earlier that day of some a pretty nice North Face jacket, and some other clothes.  Also, it was fortunate these creeps didn’t know how to open my trunk, because they might have liked some of the stuff they found back there.  (Like that dead body!!! Moohooohahahahahahahaha)  All in all, I give this crime a rating of: “Fuck you, you delinquent fucks.”

Funny, I never had my car broken into when I lived in Ottawa!  (Then again, I didn’t own a car in Ottawa.)