Another twofer out of the second Fringe-For-All it should surprise no one that I'm a big fan of...
We kick off this two-for-one deal with...
Pants On Fire!
Allison Broeren & Mumble Mumble Productions
"Two truths and a lie each. You help decide whose pants are on fire as previous Fringe favorites, Rockstar Storyteller, and Poetry Slam Masters Allison Broeren, Wonder Dave, and a rotating nightly special guest liar spin yarns! Mascots! Ascots! Horrible truths and lovely lies."
And one of their guest stars (for the Monday & Saturday shows) is none other than one of our very favorite visiting Fringers, Les, with his own solo show...
Drink Drank Drunk, Diary of the Life of the Party
The Adventures of Les Kurkendaal
"Put your drinking shoes on and don't be tardy for the party. Come and join Les Kurkendaal on a wild ride of booze, fun and hilarious hijinks and what happens when it's time for the party to end. After many years of partying Les realizes that it's time to get sober . But how does one do that ? How is life going to change ? Am I still going to have fun ? Is my social life dead ?? Come hear Les tell stories of what it was like when he was out drinking , what happened and what life is like today."
Allison is a returning favorite from my 2007 Top 20 list with her first Fringe show All The Things I Never Told My Mother. Though I missed her 2008 outing, I'll Marry You For Health Insurance, I did catch last year's My Sinking Ship. I just did it so late in my Fringe-going marathon that I never got around to reviewing it properly. But that's what a notebook is for...
What I enjoyed most about Allison's 2009 Fringe show, My Sinking Ship, is what I enjoy most about all her shows - her way with language. She understands, better than most people, what words can do, and is constantly playing with them in order to learn how to do still more. There is unexpected poetry in odd situations ("When it snowed, it filled up our closets.") There is humor from strange angles ("I had somehow buttered a cigarette.") There is a big streak of mischief ("If you're lucky enough to see a whale, they get super pissed off if you throw pineapples in their blowholes.") There is the well-chosen splash of blue language, as in one of her opening salvos, an open letter of sorts, "Dear past, present & future roommates, I appreciate your need to fuck." There is a child-like sense of wonder ("Dinosaurs probably would have rocked my face off.") And there is a respect for all forms of life, even if they must bow down before human beings' place higher on the food chain, as in one of her best tales - "Words of Sympathy for the Bats I Have Killed" which includes the great (both funny and chilling) turn of phrase, "We leave your blood above the door as a message to your friends."
Allison, accidentally set adrift in a raft while trying to take refuge from an extra exuberant boating party, awakes to her predicament and, in one of the funniest moments, right at the top of the show, makes a strange discovery in her raft. "What's this? A music stand!" Because a music stand to a spoken word artist is like a life jacket in a raft to the rest of us. There are other random encounters throughout, courtesy of Allison's partner in crime Marlow, who appears as, among other things a mystical sea captain, and the friendliest great white shark imaginable. It's not completely seamless in terms of structure or payoff, but the clunkiness is part of the show's considerable charm. Spending time listening to Allison spin stories is time well spent, and considering it was show #37 of what would become a 56 show marathon during the 2009 Fringe, it was an enormously refreshing, relaxing time as well.
This year, Pants On Fire! promises to be more of a grab bag of styles and content, given the five person mix over the course of the festival. But that mix is what makes it so fun and unpredictable, much like their Fringe-For-All preview...
Plus, that structural conceit of two true stories, plus a lie, means we'll get both reality and flights of fancy that'll give everyone involved room to stretch and surprise us.
I have to admit, I'm especially looking forward to this show because the other regular in the rotation is Wonder Dave Crady, who I've had a bit of an artistic crush on since he first appeared in Laura Bidgood and Curt Lund's 2006 Fringe show, Two Queers And A Chubby. Which is why I wrote, "Wonder Dave Crady is a firecracker - a joyous, take-no-prisoners, reveling in his geekdom, won't back down from a fight against intolerance firecracker. I think I'm a little in love with Wonder Dave after this show." Since then I've bought his CD and one of his chap books but since most of his open mics with Allison conflicted with my writing group nights, I've seen very little of his work on stage since. So Pants On Fire! is great opportunity to get a little more Wonder Dave. Plus, their advertising campaign includes buttons that say "Allison/Wonder Dave sets my pants on fire!" And how can you not love that as a marketing strategy. Mom loves buttons, so she'll probably try and get one of each for her collection.
Of course, the first big lie in the preview was that the third person onstage was not, in fact, Laura Bidgood, but Wednesday/Thursday guest performer Courtney McLean. After being part of another great trio in the Rockstar Storytellers' 2009 Fringe outing, Axed! The Rockstars Remix, I'm looking forward to more from Courtney as well.
In addition to closing day Sunday guest performer Khary Jackson, they have the fabulous Les Kurkendaal on the guest roster. And even though Les wasn't in the Fringe-For-All, I'm giving him a shout-out anyway. When not guest performing in Pants On Fire! Monday and closing Saturday, Les of course has his own show to do...
Drink Drank Drunk, Diary of the Life of the Party
Les is a returning favorite off my pre-Fringe Top 10 List for Fringe 2007, delighting my Mom with a remount of Christmas In Bakersfield, which he had impressed me with just the year before in Fringe 2006. Mom and I were back again for more in Fringe 2008, when Les got 4-1/2 stars out of me for The Attack of the Big Angry Booty. Fringe 2009's tag team effort with the great Dan Bernitt, The Gayer Show was so good it made Mom cry. Plus, Les is just a lot of fun to hang out with as well. Mom is very much looking forward to more of Les, onstage and off, as am I. He comes both Mom and blogger-approved.
Here's a little video excerpt from Les' show
Allison's facebook page
Her Fringe page
Les' facebook page
His Fringe page