Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Fringe 2017 - Top 10 - #3 - Dick White, Ghost Detective
When a P.I. wakes up a ghost, he must pair up with the only person who can hear him, a career criminal, to solve his own murder. Quick, vaudevillian, and self-aware, this play will exhaust and delight you.
I have to admit that after Odd Man Out and Blackout Improv, there weren’t obvious shows (aside from the reliable returning favorites, of course) that leapt out at me as something to get excited about. Then I did a little digging on the Minnesota Fringe Festival website and discovered Dick White: Ghost Detective.
Back in Fringe 2014, the day before the end of the festival, I gave a random new play a shot. The two guys behind it seemed to have an oddball sense of humor in the videos they posted online so I figured, what the hell, it might be fun.
That show was Supernova!: A One Man Play by Rex Douglas!: A Two Man Play by Turner Barrowman and Collin Klug.
The premise was that the star of this supposed one man show had gone AWOL, and the two guys who each thought they were his designated understudy were battling for who would get the chance to fill the big man’s shoes. But that was really just an excuse for the two of them (along with help from some friends) to unleash a truly random assortment of comedic riffs that, still, all managed to tie together as a cohesive (and very entertaining) whole by the end. They even got to perform the big closing space monologue.
I enjoyed myself so much, I made note of the fact they had one final show the next day, closing day of the Fringe. I don’t see shows more than once very often at the Fringe. Certainly not the very next day. But I knew I wasn’t going to find anything that I would enjoy more than seeing that show again, so back I went. And I was amused and entertained anew.
Makes me wish I’d written a review at the time. I ended up gushing about it on Joshua Humphrey’s Fringe wrap up edition of his podcast on Twin Cities Theater Connection. I probably should have transcribed that. I should have known they’d be back. Barrowman and Klug launched the weekly Boy Kisses comedy showcase in the Universe Games store after hours soon after their Fringe outing and kept it going for a couple of years, just recently bringing that run to a close. (There’s a lot of video bits posted online so you can get a feel for their style). They even took Boy Kisses on the road to Chicago in recent weeks.
Boy Kisses as a title is a delightful bit of counterintuitive trolling. The target audience for stand-up comedy in the back of a gaming store is, primarily, straight white bro dudes. Imagine the guys getting ready to go out for the weekend, “What are you gonna do?” “I’m seeing a comedy show.” “Which one?” “Boy Kisses.” (“But really, it’s not gay, I swear.”) And it’s not just a joke in a “No Homo!” kind of way. And that’s one of the things I think I appreciated most about their work in Supernova.
Barrowman, Klug and company aren’t afraid to show intimacy onstage between men - and I’m not just talking physical intimacy. It’s emotional intimacy as well. Like all good improv comedians, they realize that intimacy between men offers a whole range of other options for comedic storytelling. Being nervous and walling yourself off from that means that you’re cutting yourself off from the full set of tools you could be using in your work. It’s acting. It’s pretend. No one really thinks you’re gay or, God forbid, sensitive, emotionally vulnerable. And if they do, who gives a crap? Every year I go looking for genuine intimacy onstage between men that’s part of good storytelling. I rarely see it. Supernova wasn’t gay, but it was so homoerotic at times that it was a lot gayer, and a lot more honest emotionally, than most of the shows at the Fringe that year that claimed to have gay content.
And again, it was funny. It wasn’t a drama. It was a deeply weird assortment of goofy character riffs.
Now, I could be wrong. This might be a different Collin Klug. There is precious little evidence on the Fringe web page for the show to allow me to be certain (like say, a bio listing any past work, either Fringe or Boy Kisses related). And Facebook, normally my go-to for actor confirmation research, isn’t any help because, unlike a lot of savvy Fringe artists, there’s no show or poster art on Klug’s personal page, and no related Facebook event, etc. (Update: just got invited to the event on Facebook, I have the correct Klug. Yay!)
The only thing that makes me think I’m not barking up the wrong tree is Klug lists his “theater company” as - I'm Related To Lin Manuel Miranda. That’s the right style of humor, as is the show description blurb. And during the ramp-up to Fringe 2014, the duo made a joke out of the idea that Turner was related to Torchwood and Arrow actor John Barrowman.
Like I said, I had to do some digging on this one. I’ll know if I was right to be excited soon enough. Meantime I’m putting it toward the top of my list of recommendations for others to check out.
And here's some handy links to the full list of pre-Fringe top 10, and 11-20, returning favorites, and all the random shout outs in these Top 10/Top 20 posts - links all gathered in a single list to take you to fuller posts and Fringe pages. Enjoy!