Friday, August 10, 2018

Fringe 2018 - Review - The Immaculate Big Bang - 5 Stars

tweet review - #mnfringe show 32 - Immaculate Big Bang - @billsantiago gave his all despite a tiny crowd; neither cynical nor sentimental, despite content on young daughter and death of father; refreshingly smart, irreverent, very funny stand-up show mixing science/religion - 5 stars

Probably the hardest thing for a stand-up comedian to do is play to a small crowd.  You need a certain critical mass of people in the seats, clustered together, to get a decent amount of laughs going.  And that laughter can feed a comedian if they really need the energy.  It’s hard to keep it going on your own, even if the few people there are super-attentive, smiling, even chuckling along with you.  You wish there were more laughs.  It can be easy to let your spirits flag.  That’s partly why the performance that Bill Santiago delivered with The Immaculate Big Bang at the Wednesday night 10pm show at Strike was doubly impressive.  There were only about a dozen of us there.  Even in that small house, we probably looked like a pretty sparse crowd.  You know what?  Didn’t f**kin’ matter.  Bill Santiago started off strong and stayed high energy for his entire set, like we were a crowd 10 times our size guffawing our guts out at everything he said.  The man’s a consummate professional and my cap is off to him.

“Three-quarters of the word Happiness, is Penis.”

But my cap would be tipping to him anyway because even out of the above context, The Immaculate Big Bang is a great piece of comedy.  Bill Santiago is an atheist, at least he says he is.  He comes from a religious family, but isn’t particularly religious himself.  However, he is an informed atheist.  He knows his religion and he knows his science, and the collision and divergence of those two enormous schools of thought is the subject of The Immaculate Big Bang.  The birth of his daughter and the death of his father have Santiago thinking about the big questions of where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going?  How did the universe come to be?  What the hell is up with Schrodinger’s Cat?  Think that a discussion of the difference between quantum physics and Einstein’s “regular” physics isn’t fertile ground for comedy?  Then you haven’t spent enough time in Bill Santiago’s company.

“You guys ever read the Bible?  It’s a lot of fun till you get to Leviticus.”

One minute Santiago is discussing his mother’s quasi-religious strategies for reining in his father’s infidelities, the next he’s making a case for Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham as a religious text.  And if the thought of putting velcro together with the crucifixion never entered your mind, pull up a chair.  The strange thing is that none of this ever seems cynical, and at the same time it doesn’t devolve into sentimentality either.  Santiago is riding that line right down the middle between them the whole time.  He plays with scientific concepts as easily and deftly as he plays on words, making both easily accessible and funny as hell.  (Irreverent as hell, too, in case you hadn’t already guessed from the descriptions above.)

“She skipped right past the seven stages of grief and got to cake.”

The Immaculate Big Bang isn’t just a series of related jokes.  It’s a window into one man’s heart, mind and soul.  And it’s a powerful, mind-bending, hilarious way to spend an hour at the Fringe.  (And seriously, give the guy a break - there should be more than a dozen people at his next show.  The guy’s leaving it all out there on the floor for you all, whether you show up or not.  The least you can do is show.  Trust me, you’ll be richly rewarded if you do.)

5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

Here's some handy links to reviews of 5 Star Shows, 4.5 Star Shows, 4 Star Shows, 3 Star Shows, and my full Top 10, Top 11-20 and Returning Favorites lists.

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