Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.ca or 416 872-1111, or at the box office at 5040 Yonge St. Toronto, ON.
DAY 12 (July 11, 2010)
I can’t believe the final day has arrived. This was a most hectic day and started early since our first show was in the AM for our make-up or rain-check show as we call it. This show was to make up for our lost show when there was a technical malfunction. So by 11:30 AM I was on stage as Freud.
This was a smaller house, but they were definitely on board with the show from the get go. I was actually quite happy with this performance and I was surprised when the rest of the cast thought the pace was slow.
Bruce wanted to have a meeting about The Best of the Fringe after ward. So we all went to Grapefruit Moon where we all brought up any concerns we have about striking the set and resetting everything at The Berkeley Street Theatre. I also had some delicious breakfast. I have been feasting through all of this to deal with the incredible stress.
I went home and washed the paint out of my hair and drove my wife across town. She was going to Lady Gaga. Before I knew it I was back behind the theatre waiting for our Patron’s Pick performance to start. It was very humid outside and the previous show was unloading their props into a gigantic moving truck. They were also moving a couch. Couches are a pain in the ass to move.
But because the door was open this was letting all of the humidity into our well air-conditioned theatre. I was concerned when I walked in because it felt like a sauna. So our last show was a good one despite the fact that I felt like I was swimming through a steam room. I was pretty impressed when I realized that there was some very prominent people in the audience.
Before I could enjoy any of it we were loading THE COUCH into my neigbours van. Then I had to deal with Front of House money issues and then the movement of all of the props. Soon I was hightailing it to store everything at my parent’s house till tuesday.
David, who plays Carl Jung, also drove some of the props there. Standing on the sidewalk by the street David and I got into a discussion about the show and how we could improve it and suddenly this group of people walked by who recognized us from the show. At this point we are miles from the Fringe Festival so I was a little startled. They all told us they loved the show but then one of the men said “But you were a little hard on Freud.” I was also startled by this because this is the second time I have heard this now.
I went home and washed the paint out of my hair for a second time. By 10:00 I finally hit the beer tent where I was warmly greeted by friends, fans of the show and cast members. I ate some sub standard food and chatted with everyone. Someone told me a very horrible Second Shitty story. I think everyone who has worked there has one of these.
I mentioned to some of our cast and crew the guy on the street who thought I was too hard on Freud. I was surprised when some of them even agreed that if we ever expand the show into two acts that we should find room to let the audience see a more positive side of Freud.
This was counteracted by some female psych students who really wanted to talk to me about the play. They both started telling me how they couldn’t stand Freud and whenever they would be reading Freud in their studying materials they would write “FUCKING FREUD”! I think that women tend to enjoy this play quite a lot. Especially women who have studied Freud. I think when you know more about him you have less sympathy. However, I do feel that I sympathize with his character and there is an important part of the play that reveals how Freud himself is a victim. Other performers have confirmed to me that I do show a sympathetic side of him. So I do not agree that I was too hard on him. If this play attacks anything it is simply the patriarchal structure of families and society. But mostly we were trying to make everyone laugh at ourselves.
After Bruce’s Getaway van came back several of us hung out in the van for awhile. Denise has broken a record by having performed thirty shows this Fringe Festival. I only did nine including the Art Wank performance. My wife finally arrived from seeing Lady Gaga. We danced in the tent with all of our new friends, and some special old friends. And suddenly it was the last song. They tried to play jazz to make us go home but we all kept on dancing.
When that was over those of us who were left went to The Lakeview Diner where we stuffed ourselves with hamburgers and milkshakes. At about 3:30AM we finally made it home. I was still so excited I couldn’t sleep. Theatre is like The Hurt Locker. I can’t go back to civilian life. In the morning I have to get up to move the couch again. We have more shows in three days.
Onto The Best of the Fringe. Wednesday July 14th at 9:00 PM and Thursday July 15th at 7:00 PM. 26 Berkeley Street. 416 368-3110 www.canstage.com $17.00
DAY 11 (July 10, 2010)
Our performance time today was at noon. It was a Saturday but I still wasn’t sure what kind of house we would have. I happen to be a night owl so performing at this time of day is real acting let me tell you. We had a decent sized house once again. And they seem to be laughing more and more as we find new ways to hit our cues. In a way it is a relief to get the show out of the way. I was able to relax a little after washing the white paint out of my hair.
I had made plans to go back to the beer tent, but I hit a wall of exhaustion and I collapsed on my bed. I got up a few times to eat, but then I would eventually just fall back to sleep. Traditionally the Saturday night before the end of the Fringe is the big night. I managed to go down there with my wife. But we didn’t stay long. We have two performances tomorrow and the first one is in the morning. Time to go back to sleep.
DAY 10 (July 9, 2010)
To balance out yesterday’s rant I would like to spend some time discussing how excited we all are to be doing The Best of the Fringe. This is the second time I have been asked to be a part of this festival. This year is even more exciting because there are two festivals. One in the North and one in the South. Both of them are in beautiful theatres. Our first run will be at The Berkeley Street Theatre which is located at 26 Berkeley Street (Toronto). Our two performances there will be Wednesday July 14 at 9:00 PM and Thursday July 15 at 7:00 PM. (416 368-3110 http://www.canstage).
Friday’s show was sold out. It was at 8:00 so it was prime time. This was also our archival video performance and it was our best show so far. At the end I made the announcement finally about The Best of the Fringe as well as our Patron’s Pick performance. It has been wonderful to see the audiences grow for this show. We seem to have reached people without really receiving a lot of press. Many people have told me that the show description is what interests them. The feedback I have received is that people in the fields of psychology and psychiatry tend to enjoy the show quite a bit. It certainly seems to be sparking some discussion.
We have started doing some more warm ups behind the theatre. We used to run the lines just before the show, but we have found doing some quick improv games helps the pace of the show. I am behind in writing this so all of the beer tent shenanigans are a blur to me. I can’t distinguish one night from another. I seem to remember that this was the night I convinced my wife to go the Lakeview Diner again. My new favourite restaurant.
Oh I forgot to mention today we had a crisis. We ran out of programs and I spent a large portion of the day scrambling around trying to figure out how to print a whole bunch of them.
DAY 9 (July 8, 2010)
So apparently there is this Freudian supporter who has started some bizarre campaign against my show. I am surprised to find out that it is a woman. It is simply astonishing to me that there is a woman out there in our modern age defending Freud. This guy used to remove women’s wombs because he thought they were causing hysteria. The funny thing is that this letter she has written has boosted the ticket sales of the show.
I am behind on this blog so this has given me some time to digest what I have heard the criticism is (I am not reading reviews). Apparently she feels that I have made a clown out of Freud. There are several styles of theatre which are influenced by clown, which is an actual art form to some people believe it or not. So she is correct. We are all clowns in this show because it IS a clown show. It was directed that way on purpose to reflect the exaggeration of a memory. Just like Amadeus portrayed Mozart as a clown. So bravo for figuring that out. It is also a farce, which means that we are making fun of everything in this show. I suppose I should have expected this. I wrote a play about racism, sexism, homosexuality, abuse and abortion. I guess someone at some point is going to watch it and take it personally for some reason. But then I would suggest that person go to a therapist. I am not making fun of this self proclaimed critic. I also go to therapy. Why do you think I wrote this fucking play in the first place?
I’ll tell you why I wrote it. I wrote it because I found out I was an Ashkenazi Jew, just like Freud. So excuse me, but I think I am allowed to discuss Judaism when I am a Jew thank you very much. So what this woman is doing is trying to ban art made by Jews? Hmmm…. After two performances we had a Jewish community centre ask us to perform and workshop in their theatre. So if this lawyer finds the play personally offensive for whatever reason that is fine, but don’t try to generalize and censor when you clearly do not understand theatre or the details of this actual story.
Otherwise we had a great show with a good crowd. We also found out that we are Patron’s Pick which means we sold the most amount of tickets at our venue (thanks letter writing lawyer!). And we also were asked to perform in The Best of the Fringe South and a new festival called The Best of the Fringe North (thanks letter writing lawyer!).
DAY 8 (July 7, 2010)
I find writing this blog therapeutic. And today (the day I am writing this) I need therapy. Today I had the day off actually and I managed to go see a show. After I put more fliers down in the beer tent my wife and I saw Death Ray Cabaret, directed by my friend Mark Andrada and starring a couple of my friends. The sketches were really funny. The space was a little hot but I didn’t mind so much. The city is going through a heat wave.
After ward my wife and I had dinner at a nearby Thai food restaurant which was so delicious. I thought I was supposed to be booked to be interviewed on a radio show called indiepool or something but when I requested more information from Fringe publicity I didn’t hear anything back. That was fine with me. More time to relax and spend in the beer tent with friends. My wife and I headed down to the tent where Mark was hosting karaoke. Always a favorite thing for us to do. All the Second Shitty people were sitting together at one table. I love all these people individually but man, mix it up a bit people. I didn’t get a chance to say Hi to all of them. Quite frankly they frighten me when they are in a pack.
Jamillah and I went on stage and sang “U Got the Look” by Prince and Sheena Easton. Everyone seemed to love it. I was receiving a lot of compliments about my show from strangers which is also nice. Even though I have been going out of my way to avoid reviews Bruce did tell me that Eye wrote something nice, and of course The Toronto Star. But apparently some web blog writer didn’t like our show at all. But I had never heard of the blog. And it sounded like they did not understand British farce, and they were also ignorant about the relationship between Jung and Freud. I always knew it was possible people would think the story was too ridiculous without knowing it is almost all based on actual events. Anyway, fuck em. If Canada’s most widely read paper likes the show then I’m not going to worry about some fucking blog writer. I’m a blog writer for Christ sakes! No one cares when I say I hate half of a very popular improv show, do they? Or that I think people should boycott Second City? No, everyone still goes and blows sunshine up their asses.
Anyway, after the tent my wife, Bruce, Denise and I went to the Lakeview Diner for some late night food. Honestly I do not know how I have lived in this city this long without discovering this 24 hour haven of food. MMMMMMYUMMMMMMMMYYYYY!!!!!!!
DAY 7 (July 6, 2010)
Our show was at 10:45 PM today, a tuesday. Many people have said this is a weird time. But people like me who stay up late are used to being up at this time. Most people in comedy are like that, even if they have day jobs. But it was hard for me to deal with because I couldn’t really relax during the day knowing that I had a show. This may have caused me to have some jitters.
I have been going down to the beer tent during the day and putting my cheaper homemade fliers on the tables. I’m glad I put the cheap ones down because later on I found out what happens to all of those fliers at the end of the night. We also received a lot of attention all of a sudden. Apparently the Toronto Star listed us as one of the picks of the Fringe. I haven’t actually read it because I am trying to avoid reading anything the press is saying about the show. I find it too distracting whether it is good or bad. I’m happy if people like the show but concentration is key for me.
Nevertheless, the attention we are getting is beyond the press. There are some interested parties. So my producer hat was on all day dealing with all sorts of e-mails. So when I show up at the theatre at 9:15 PM it becomes a challenge to turn myself mentally into Freud. I have become very amusing to my co-stars who think my pre-show jitters are hilarious. I don’t even know what I’m doing. I do try and center myself fifteen minutes before the show. But apparently that is also funny.
Again we had a good crowd. I have no idea where these people are coming from and I am so happy they are finding our little show. There are always a handful of people I know in the audience but I have no idea who the rest are. I’ve done something right. We all had a few fumbles here and there after having so many days off. So it wasn’t a perfect show but I still felt that the audience enjoyed it. Several people were very complimentary to me after the show. Several of whom are respected people in the arts. I am trying not to let anything go to my head. I have been here before.
I decided to go home and wash the white out of my hair. Then I drove down to the beer tent and said hello to some friends and sat at our table while people came by and chatted. Because it was so late I was surprised when they said it was time to finish our drinks. So I chugged the rest of my drink. Most of the Freudian Slip company stayed for a while longer chatting. They are all very excited by how it is all going.
It took me a long time to come down from the high of the show. And at 5:30 in the morning I was still sending producer related e-mails.
DAY 6 (July 5, 2010)
It is hard to believe we are halfway through the festival and we have only done two out of seven shows. We had another day off today. But I couldn’t be as relaxed. As soon as I got onto my e-mail I felt the pressure of the show start to weigh upon me. Some of the actors want new fliers so I had to try and figure out how to do that since our artist is away in Calgary. This involved a lot of phone calls and e-mails.
After that I drove down to the Fringe tent in the scorching heat and laid down some of my homemade fliers on the tables. Then I went and met David at his place so we could run lines and refresh our memories. We ended up debating religion, like we do in the play, except in the real world David is the atheist and I am the one who argues religion. The exact opposite of the play.
Late at night I drove around to all of the venues and put up the remainder of my posters. I can’t stand it when I do a show and I find a stack of posters after the run like I did with Plan LIVE From Outer Space. The idiot who was supposed to be in charge of posters back then didn’t seem to think there was a problem with that waste of paper, ink and money that came out of my pocket. I stopped at Pizza Gigi on the way and did not get home until 3:00 AM. There were no posters left when I got home. If something has to be done then do it yourself. My first rule of producing.
DAY 5 (July 4, 2010)
After yesterday I needed a break. We have two days off from shows. My original plan was to go and see as many Fringe shows as I could. The truth is, it is really hard to go to other shows when you are producing and starring in another show. When you have down time you need a break. So I spent most of the day watching Coronation St. and gluing these new fliers together. I am beginning to wonder if it would be better for us if we printed new fliers. But we would have to put this raincheck showtime onto it somehow.
We had dinner with my folks who wanted to talk about the play. I didn’t really want to talk about it. I avoided e-mails and phone calls all day. I have not read any reviews. I think artists torture themselves by reading reviews. So I have no idea what people are saying. And I am trying not to care. I really needed a day to heal from the stress. And so I did.
DAY 4 (July 3, 2010)
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened today at the Fringe. Today proves that this whole experience is a roller coaster no matter how well you prepare yourself. The long and short of it is that we had to cancel a performance due to the sound board malfunctioning, and there was a huge line! Believe me no one was happy about it. In fact I am hesitant to go into it on here since the story seems to make everyone sad. The good news is that the Fringe replaced the show with a make up performance on Sunday July 11th at 11:30 AM.
The show was supposed to be at 5:45 and we had heard that the tickets were selling well. I was surprised by how fast the day went by. Not very much time to relax. Before I knew it I was running through the lines with my cast. We quickly set up our props and got into our costumes. I was thinking about my first line when Bruce suddenly came backstage and told us the sound system had shut down. Not good. The music and sound is vitally important to the show. Quickly after that the show was cancelled. We went out in costume to inform the disappointed crowd that was lined up around the building. I was shell shocked. I later learned that apparently the problem was a power surge because everyone turned there air conditioning on today.
I had a flashback to SHOW STOPPING NUMBER! The Improvised Musical back in the 2007 Fringe when my keyboard decided to stop playing halfway through the opening number. Luckily The Rumoli Brother’s keyboard was behind me. I set that one up and thank God it worked.
Back to the future. Soon I was sitting in the parking lot alone trying to digest what had happened. I had an Art Wank performance scheduled a few hours later so there was no choice but to get back into character. Some of us met up at the beer tent. Then David and I went up on stage as Freud and Jung. I haven’t improvised for months and I have never done a street performance before so this was a new experience. A crowd did gather underneath Honest Ed’s as we attempted to analyze people’s dreams in Jungian and Freudian ways. Quite a few improvisers came by. I’m sorry that Freud is such a jerk everybody.
I had wanted to go see Cyndi Lauper and/or Macy Gray and Chaka Kha. They were all doing free performances downtown because of the Pride Parade. But I got caught up in conversations at the beer tent and I even did more improvising with the two guitar players who were playing music in the tent.
I wanted to eat the rotis. They smelled so good. But I still had this white stuff on my beard. So I went home and washed it off and my wife and I went back down to the beer tent where I ravenously ate the delicious roti. Our crazy story seemed to be on the lips of everyone. And everyone seems to have a show horror story like this. At least everyone is talking about our show. We met up with The Getaway cast and had some more drinks and chats.
DAY 3 (July 2, 2010)
We had an early show today, at 1:45 PM and it is a Friday. So we are using this awkward time for a performance as our Word of Mouth and our Volunteer appreciation show. I wasn’t sure how many people we were going to have in the audience and I was finding it difficult to focus before the show while we ran lines outside.
Somehow when I stepped out onto stage I left the producer hat behind. I was surprised by the size of the audience once again. I’m not complaining. Moira (who plays Martha Freud) said that an audience that comes in laughing is a great crowd to perform for, and they did seem to be a great audience with lots of loud happy laughers. That always makes our job as comedians easier I think, and helps our performance when we feel that energy coming back at us. I feel as though we pulled off an even better performance than opening night. A theatre company showed some interest in the show afterward. My friends Marsha and Rusa were there as well. Marsha actually helped me with the script way back in January. It is great to get support from friends.
The Front of House told me that three press people booked to come to the show and didn’t show up. I guess that is fine with me if they don’t want to write about it. People do seem to be coming though.
I went home and washed all of that white stuff out of my hair. I still have all of these posters so I thought it was time to get them out there. So I grabbed my tools and headed down to the Tarragon and the U of T theatres. I was surprised to find that the Robert Gill wasn’t a part of the Fringe this year. Then I went down to Theatre Passe Muraille, taping my posters up. I find this relaxing actually. It gets me out and walking and reduces my stress regarding the show.
Then I headed back to the Fringe tent where I checked in with The Getaway van which feels like home base to me. I put another poster up on the van. I thought about going into the Fringe tent, but sometimes I can’t take the politics. I went home and started cutting up new fliers. Some colour printed fliers were donated to the show, but I just need to figure out how to put them together. So I caught up on The View and The Joy Behar Show while I spent hours cutting them up.
DAY 2 (July 1, 2010)
Sometimes I have to re-edit my blogs. Cut down on the ranting. Today I had a day off. I think I needed it. I spent the day just hiding in my house avoiding e-mails and trying to watch The View. But I had tickets to two Fringe shows: Asiansploitation and The Getaway and so I knew I would have to leave my cave at some point.
I put on my leather jacket and my wife and I made our way down to the Annex Theatre. We met our friends Josh and Sean in the line up. The show sold out. It is a bit of an odd theatre however. I have never been there before. It looks like a court house with two stairwells coming down on either side. I liked how this troupe used the space to their advantage. The cast is made up of some of my former musical improv students and my friend Gene Abella who was super funny as usual.
Then it was back to the beer tent and all of the “I love you” – “I’m avoiding” you maneuvering. Awkward! After a drink we went to The Getaway van – the show that takes place in a moving van written and starring Bruce Hunter, the director of my show. I have been looking forward to this ever since the fund raiser for the show when my wife won the auction to have her portrait done. I won’t give too much away but it is simply brilliant. This is the Fringe the way it was meant to be.
After ward it was back at the beer tent and there was lots of good times. But I actually had some work to do. I had to photocopy the script for someone at Kinkos as well as laminate some of the photographs from the show.
DAY 1 (June 30, 2010)
The show has started! I heard my theme music and then we stepped onto stage into our frames. The producer in me was trying not to notice that the audience seemed full. I’m Sigmund Freud! Not Suga Jam! Like most Fringe shows, our first real run through in the space takes place on stage in front of an audience. At first it seemed like we had to work very hard to get our voices to project into this box like room. I could feel that the laughs increased as the play gets zanier and crazier. There were a few slip ups here and there but mostly it went off without a hitch. Bruce was ecstatic after ward!
Denise had to leave immediately to run off to do The Getaway with Bruce. We struck the set as quickly as possible. That COUCH is an asshole! When I finally made it outside there were lots of friends and family that wanted to congratulate me. There were also Fringe employees and my own crew trying to get me to deal with important things like the money. Personally I preferred it when the Fringe gave you all of your money at the end of the run. But they insist that you deal with what happened immediately so you must see which press came to your show and how much money you made. Luckily we had a pretty good haul today. I was relieved. I started working on this show in December. If no one had showed up it would have been disappointing.
I probably should have washed this weird paint out of my hair at home first before I went to the beer tent. But everyone wanted to meet there so I went, white hair and all. The beer tent is a very interesting place. Everyone from our community converges on this tent. The regular hierarchies that have been established do not apply. And you can suddenly find yourself face to face with someone you have been avoiding or someone you may have written an angry e-mail to once.
This night was full of that. I sat down with my friends Mark and Kevin from Death Ray Cabaret. I had a conversation with someone else sitting there that did shed some light on a problem that has existed between a certain comedy company and I for years. There is a reason why most successful alumni do not go back there.
Which is also why I was unable to watch the show in the beer tent despite having some talented friends in the show. The politics in the theatre and comedy community in this city is just unbelievable sometimes. But the Fringe is great because it mixes up the system. The egos in this town. I tell ya.
My wife showed up and we sat with the cast of The Getaway. They are like our sister show, so it was fun for all of us to finally meet each other. There are some advantages to the beer tent being in the Honest Ed’s alley this year, but there are also some drawbacks. I found the food cold (it was freezing outside by the way) and I’m not a big fan of port-a-potties. The cold didn’t stop everyone from showing up however. The place was packed. And I could finally semi-relax.
I’m a playwright!