Wednesday, August 10, 2022

2022 Fringe Review - The Local Music Scene - New Music Inspires Improv Comedy - 4.5 Stars

“I just wanna gaslight you for the next 20 years.”

Synopsis: An improv show that uses music performed by local musicians as inspiration for improvised scenes. Aug 5: Mitch Ditlefsen, Aug 8: Courtney Yasmineh, Aug 10: Kaity Joan, Aug 13: Dave Dvorak, Aug 14: Mother Banjo

Tweet review: #mnfringe Local Music Scene: local musician sings their songs, chats with improvisers who create comedic scenes inspired by lyrics and personal info; good music, good improv, good times - 4.5 stars

The concept of the show The Local Music Scene is simple.  A local musician is interviewed by the producer and lead improvisor Philip Simondet. The other improvisors in the group (Sarah Arnold-Simondet, Liz Council Choate, Eric Heiberg, Bryce Kalal, Doug Ocar, Kathryn Vannelli) take notes in erasable marker on little white boards.  Then the musician sings their first song.  The improvisors all take more notes.  When the first song is done, the microphone stand is pulled to the side, the musician takes a seat, and the improvisors take the musician’s interview answers and lyrics of their first song and create a succession of comedic scenes peppered with those bits of information as inspiration.  After a set period of time, five to ten minutes, the lights go down on the improvisors bringing their work to a close for the moment.  Then the musician gets up to sing their next song, the improvisors take notes, and at the end of the song, the improv comedy starts again.  This happens one more time after that, and then the show ends with the musician playing one last song and then the curtain closes.

“One of these days I’m gonna get that damn catchphrase right.”

To be honest, I was wondering how this was going to work, but I was reminded pretty quickly that good improvisors are great at creating something out of next to nothing.  And with a full interview and a whole song to play with (and then another song, and then another), they’ve got a lot more than nothing here.  New characters and situations were constantly being invented on the spot, but as the show went on, certain scenarios reappeared again, calling back to previous material while moving forward with the new stuff.  Here we got a bank robber whose flourishing music career was getting in the way of his anonymity, as well as his fellow robbers wanting him to pursue his art form and not let them hold him back.  There was a prairie lesbian couple where one partner was co-dependent and the other was toxic and kept kicking their partner out of the house by calling a covered wagon style Uber for her to take her away.  There was a young woman who brought her new boyfriend, later fiancé, home to meet the parents and her sarcastic brother - the boyfriend was known only as The Man Without A Face - which can make it hard to communicate, or see, or eat dinner with the folks.

“The bad news is that they only sent us Christian Nerf soldiers.”

In addition to being an improv comedy generator, The Local Music Scene also appears to be a useful platform for new musicians looking to get in front of audiences.  The first performance’s musician Mitch Ditlefsen was asked to clarify, “Is this your first public performance?”  “Well, I technically had a show a couple of weeks ago but no one showed up, so yes, this is my first audience.”  That made the already good performance even more impressive.

“Also, I’m getting tired of making helicopter noises.”

This concept was already a long-running gig at the Bryant Lake Bowl every month since sometime in 2014, until everything shut down for the pandemic in 2020, so they’ve had a lot of practice.  They’re starting up monthly shows again in the fall.  But catch The Local Music Scene now in the Fringe, particularly if you’re looking for some good improv, or a little new music.  It satisfies both entertainment needs.  The Local Music Scene has three more performances: today 8/10 at 7pm (with musician Kaity Joan), Saturday 8/13 at 7pm (with musician Dave Dvorak), and Sunday 8/14 at 8:30pm (with musician Mother Banjo).

4.5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

(You can click on the following links to see a set of links to reviews of all the 5 and 4.5 star shows (VERY highly recommended), 4 and 3.5 star shows (highly recommended) as well as other shows, plus the full Top 10 list, the Top 11-20 list, a list of returning favorites, and the full coverage of the 2022 Fringe on this blog.) 

(Side note: The primary may be over, but the midterm elections are coming up soon. Early voting for the election starts Friday, September 23 (so, not much more than a month after Fringe is over). You can check out what's on your ballot ahead of time on the Minnesota Secretary of State website, as well as other voting services and information - like handy links to all the candidates who have websites so you can learn more.  In Minneapolis, not only do we have the Governor and Lt. Governor on the ballot, but there's our U.S. Congressional Rep., our MN State Senator, the MN Secretary of State and MN Attorney General, as well as our County Sheriff and County Attorney, and two members of the Minneapolis School Board.  These are the people who decide what laws we live under and how they get enforced.  These are the people who decide whether or not we have voting rights.  These are the people who decide how our kids learn.  This is how we change things.  Personally, I'm alternately furious and despairing that my goddaughter and her little sister now have fewer rights over their own bodies than they did when 2022 began. There are things we can do, voting in the general election is one of them - if you're looking to volunteer, here's a place to learn more.)



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