Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male is for spitting, not swallowing

by Glen Callender

This show should be called Memoirs of a Painfully Stupid Single Gay White Male, for two reasons. First, that’s exactly what Brad, the protagonist of the story, is. And second, it’s the only demographic likely to be impressed by this well-meaning but misguided mess.

The first act, which charts Brad’s life from childhood through college, is a cutesy romp through a series of queer-kid cliches handled with impressive unoriginality, spiced with a few obligatory moments of nudity and simulated sex. Most of it doesn’t work, because we’ve all been there and done that, and it was probably a lot more interesting when it happened to us.

Things pick up for a while in the more engaging second act, where Brad actually has a few relatively original experiences, such as inadvertently having anonymous phone sex with one of his best friends. At times the banality gives way to charming moments and genuine laughs, mostly because lead actor Jamie Foster succeeds in making Brad generally likable in spite of his immaturity.

But any hope of redemption is ultimately crushed by an abominable after-school special denouement that reeks with the very desperation this show tries to assuage. I had to avert my eyes in sheer embarrassment when Brad, after haplessly bringing himself to a totally unconvincing state of self-acceptance, finally looks out at the audience and insists, “It’s okay to be single!”

Alas, after putting us through two acts of this clueless moron stumbling through a series of excruciatingly obvious life lessons, Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male doesn’t have the self-esteem to run down the curtain without shamelessly begging us to swallow its (highly debatable!) message. How hungry must one’s inner child be to tolerate this kind of spoon-feeding?

So, assuming you’re gay and single, are you dumb enough to enjoy this production? Just answer this simple question:

Are you well into adulthood, yet still shout “ewww!” and make a yuck-face when you hear the word “vagina”?

If your answer is yes, then congratulations, Memoirs of a Single Gay White Male is right on your level. And I think we’ve also solved the riddle of why you’re still single: you’re an insufferably shallow and stupid person. Too bad this show panders to your childishness instead of telling you it’s time to grow the fuck up.

At Performance Works (1218 Cartwright Street on Granville Island) until April 11. Tickets at


Tremors Festival proves difficult to fault

by Glen Callender

Hold onto your arm rests, theatre-goers, because the Tremors Festival is shaking the Cultch like a screaming Italian woman in the jaws of an epileptic Tyrannosaurus Rex. In a totally good way.

The fest kicked off Tuesday with Why Not Theatre’s I’m So Close…, an ambitious hour that poses one of the Big Questions: “How did we get here?”

So Close...
“Here” variously refers to everything from our co-ordinates in the cosmos to the states of our relationships, but it is the latter meaning that dominates the narrative, as we follow the seriocomic story of a workaholic electrical engineer whose busy travel schedule places increasing strain on his marriage.

The three cast members are all excellent physical performers, and frequently use the device of speeding up repetitive actions to create impressively frenetic scenes depicting the bustle of the business world and the gradual decay of a marriage impoverished by too much time apart.

But this is also a thoroughly digital show, as multimedia elements are employed to excellent effect; the performers dart in and out from behind a large translucent screen that glows with elegant video projections illustrating how digital technology mediates their characters’ lives. Yet in spite of this high-tech backdrop, the image that appears most often on the screen predates digital technology by thousands of years—the eternally embracing pair of neolithic skeletons recently unearthed in Italy—a haunting counterpoint to the increasing separation and isolation of the living husband and wife on the stage.
A thoughtful and frequently delightful exploration of how technology designed to connect us can paradoxically push us further apart, I’m So Close… is marred only by a somewhat awkward opening monologue, which offers a facile introduction to the Big Bang and particle physics, and over-extends the question “How did we get here?” by tritely asking members of the audience what modes of transport they used to travel to the theatre. I suppose the temptation to interpret the question in every possible sense was irresistible, but I found it a mildly patronizing start to an otherwise beautiful piece of theatre.

If you’re looking for a hilariously ugly piece of theatre, on the other hand, get thee to Theatre Melee’s Cozy Catastrophe. In a derelict urban basement, four not-very-smart strangers and a rotting ham uneasily co-exist as the outside world comes to a violent demise in some kind of fiendish Godzilla-Cloverfield-zombie apocalypse. Expanded from a 15-minute playlet at Hive 2 (2008), Cozy Catastrophe now clocks in at 75 minutes—65 minutes of which is comedy gold.
Cozy Catastrophe
The show’s wide-open, killing-time-in-an-empty-room format gives the ensemble carte blanche to cut loose and play—and they work it to the hilt, alternating bursts of slapstick violence with moments of calm where the characters lapse into poignant monologues that invariably culminate in stupid and irrelevant conclusions.

It’s great, gross, gory fun, and as impressed as I am with the show in its current form, I am excited by the thought that Cozy Catastrophe has yet to reach its outer limits, and will surely mutate again into something even bigger and better. Having grown from a short piece to a solid one-act, Cozy Catastrophe now begs to be developed into an ultra-low budget sci-fi film—I say we lock this anarchic crew in a basement with a camcorder, no food and no water, and not let them out until it’s in the can.

I’m So Close… closes April 10; Cozy Catastrophe closes April 17. Full Tremors Festival details here.

Where’s Charley? is a giddy delight

by Glen Callender

Studio 58’s production of Where’s Charley? opened on World Theatre Day, that sacred time when the thoughts of all good people turn to those two Ancient Greek masks—one laughing, one crying—that symbolize the faces actors make when they read their reviews.

I have no idea where the crying mask was that night, but Where’s Charley? certainly wears the laughing mask with an aplomb that Aristophanes himself would have admired. Yes, I assure you that if Aristophanes were alive today, aside from being approximately 2455 years old, he would have guffawed heartily at the giddy musical spectacle of a pratfall-prone young man running about in a full-length Victorian dress, affecting a ludicrous British falsetto and hopelessly entangling himself in an-ever-more complex web of comic intrigue.

Benjamin Elliott stars as the titular Charley, a young Oxford man who is forced to impersonate his aunt—for the usual farcical reasons—and delivers a tour de force performance in a challenging quick-change role that requires him to continuously fall down, get back up, pull faces and wield his matronly hand-fan with the deftness of a comic cardsharp.

These cross-dressing antics are ably supported by a beaming, fresh-faced young cast whose obvious love of theatre makes this show impossible to dislike. The sets and costumes are bright and cheerful, the direction solid and the live music consistently on the mark. And the sly updates to this classic musical, such as the tasteful homoerotic innuendos among the ensemble, nicely bring the 1940s book forward into the 21st century.

All in all, Where’s Charley? is a top-notch student production and one of the best comedies of the season.

Now, this wouldn’t be a respectable review if I didn’t point out one or two niggling flaws, so it is with the most cursory nod to critical detachment that I note one or two of the slapstick sequences didn’t quite gel, and shaky spotlights were sometimes an unwelcome distraction.

And that’s all the token negativity towards Where’s Charlie? I can muster. If I must be negative, I’d rather direct my negativity toward you. Yes, you. Because the statistical probability is that you, dear reader, committed the grave sin of not going to the theatre on World Theatre Day.

And if so, Studio 58 will help you correct that dreadful karmic oversight, because Where’s Charley?’s iron grip on that laughing Greek mask will effectively extend World Theatre Day all the way out to the final curtain on April 18. Don’t miss it.

At Studio 58 (100 West 49th Avenue) until April 18. Tickets at

Theft charms at the Metro Theatre

by Jacquie Lanthier

What do you get when a philosophising crook with high blood pressure breaks into the country home of a millionaire? The makings of Theft by Eric Chappell, playing at the Metro Theatre until December 5th.

Dress Cast 1[Photos by Brian Campbell.  (l to r) Gerard Ponsford, Luke Day, Tom Kavadias (sitting), Rosalyn Winther, and Chris McBeath]

John Miles, played by Gerard Ponsford, and Barbara Miles, played by Chris McBeath, are a realistic couple in a love-hate relationship based on riches and superficialities. John has invited his friend from grade school, Trevor Farrington (Luke Day), and his wife, Jenny Farrington (Rosalyn Winther), along for a weekend in the country to celebrate he and Barbara’s 30th wedding anniversary—an invitation which Barbara clearly despises because Trevor and Jenny are “poor”. The private lives of these two couples provide the fodder for the crook, Spriggs (Tom Kavadias), who becomes caught in their living room upon their return and literally steals the show by revealing their secrets in many humorous attempts to win his own freedom.

Dress Cast 2[Tom Kavadias as Spriggs, the burglar]

While the play can be somewhat slow at times, there is enough humour and wit between the characters on stage to make the ticket a worthy way to spend a Friday evening. And hey, who doesn’t like to learn the secrets of strangers?

Theft is playing at the Metro Theatre until December 5.

Look who’s evil now! Evil Dead: The Musical, rocks!

by Laura Melvin

It’s Evil Dead, the cult-classic Sam Raimi 80s demon-zombie movie… but with singing! Evil Dead: The Musical is a bloody hilarious theatre adaptation of the famous flick brought to us by the lovely people at Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions, and Keystone.

The run down: five college students take a vacation in an abandoned cabin in the woods where they discover a mysterious book in the cellar that just happens to unleash angry spirits that turn people into zombies. The cabin belongs to the professor who found the book in an old castle in Europe with his daughter. The professor is missing and the daughter comes to see him only to find a weird guy with a chainsaw in her father’s cabin. You know, standard horror movie stuff. What’s great about Evil Dead: The Musical are the pointed references to typical horror movie stereotypes. There’s the vulgar party guy, the big-breasted blonde, the book nerd, the strange local, and the random guy who rarely speaks. The hero, of course, is protected by the perfect love he shares with his girlfriend that prevents him from becoming a zombie. And it wouldn’t be a horror movie without that convenient character who just so happens to have the knowledge to banish the zombies for good just in the knick of time. Hurray!


The entire cast does a stand up job in this production: Tyler Rive (hero “Ash”), Jamie Tognazzini (book nerd little sister “Cheryl”), Lynley Hall (hero’s girlfriend “Linda), Kevin Corey (party guy “Scotty”), Cailin Stadnyk (big-breasted “Shelly” and professor’s daughter “Annie”), Guilly Urra (silent guy “Ed”) and Bruce Horak (strange local “Jake”) all manage to sing, dance, and act while smothered in fake blood. Evil Dead: The Musical does a great job of making fun of itself and all the horror-movie stereotypes we know and love. This play is so entertaining it may even reach the cult-status of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But, beware! If you sit in the first few rows you WILL be covered in blood spatter!

Evil Dead: The Musical is playing at the Vogue Theatre until November 14.

Mom’s the Word: Remixed is full of laughs

by Laura Melvin

Moms will completely relate to the “Moms” in Arts Club Theatre Company’s Mom’s the Word: Remixed. For the rest of you who aren’t Moms but have one, Susan Bertoia, Jill Daum, Alison Kelly, Barbara Pollard, and Deborah Williams will have you laughing until you cry.

Third in the Mom’s the Word collection, Mom’s the Word: Remixed is an amalgamation of the first two plays, Mom’s the Word and Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged. When the play was first conceived by the original six Moms, their children were all under six.  But, as their darling sons and daughters entered their teen years, the women found they had a whole new batch of material to entertain audiences with, and Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged was born.  Mom’s the Word: Remixed takes the best of both plays and divides them into two acts, covering the life-stages from newborn to teenager.

The first act discusses those precious childhood years, complete with the lack of sleep and lack of sex the early years are known to bring. If you have young children of your own, you’ll empathize with the performers’ tales of child rearing.  Even if you don’t, you’ll still recognize the screaming, crying, chasing, bartering and bribing mommy-behaviours you see in grocery stores, malls and parks, everywhere.  You’ll even recognize those behaviours from stories your own mother tells you, like that time you stripped down naked, streaking through The Bay as your mother chased you… Oh come on, everyone has a story like that!  After seeing this play, you may just be a little more sympathetic to women trying to deal with a wailing child in a public place.

The second act illustrates the tumultuous teen years, complete with the sarcastic attitudes and typical-teen behaviour.  It’s an eye-opener to see teenage exploits from the point of view of a mother.  We all have tales from our teen years about staying out all night, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and doing things we would never do now.  We look back at those memories with fondness, evidence of a time when we felt invincible.  But, for many mothers, and parents in general, those memories are filled with tension, worry, and the image of you lying in a ditch somewhere.

Mom’s the Word: Remixed balances its humour with darker stories of hospital visits and police incidents, as well as other issues such as breast cancer and extramarital affairs.  If anything, the play dispels any notion that being a mom is easy, but emphasizes that it is a job worth doing.  After watching Mom’s the Word: Remixed, you’ll definitely feel like giving your mom an enormous “Thank You” cake… or an “Apology” cake, depending on how much of a little brat you were.

Mom’s the Word: Remixed is playing at the Arts Club Theatre until November 7, 2009.

Fun in the dark with Black Comedy

By Bob Pember

The Vancouver Arts Club is kicking off its forty-sixth season with the Peter Shaffer play Black Comedy. Set in the mid-sixties, the play follows a struggling artist as he tries to keep things together in his London apartment, despite being hopelessly clothed in lies and having to cover his tracks in the dark lest he lose the attention of a potential patron and the approval of his fiancée’s father. Anton Chekhov’s The Marriage Proposal, set in 1892 and with a similar, farcical approach to marriage, is serving as the curtain warmer to precede Black Comedy. The two shows play well off each other and work together to maintain levity and laughter in the theatre, setting the Arts Club’s season off to a great start.

The Marriage Proposal is a brief story about one farm owner wishing to propose to his neighbour’s daughter, if he could only stop arguing over the property line. A sample of the cast from Black Comedy gets to warm up with this physical and endearing one-act comedy that serves as a preview of the talent in store for the evening. The lead character Ivan (played by Jeff Meadows who later appears as Harold Gorringe in Black Comedy) gets the audience to a laughing start with an expert portrayal of the over-anxious and physically awkward suitor whose frightened attempts to propose to Natalia (played by Sasa Brown, the female lead Clea in Black Comedy) get put aside for an argument over who has the rights to a certain small piece of land. Though quaint and lower brow, The Marriage Proposal is well-acted and a fitting start to the evening.

Black Comedy is led by Charlie Gallant who plays the well-intentioned but sadly dim-witted Brindsley Miller. What makes the play an incredibly unique effort is its use of lighting in the development of the plot. The title acts as a pun, alluding to the unlit set as the characters navigate through the play entirely in the dark. This is where the play becomes cunningly physical and tightly married to the lighting technician; whenever the characters are set in the dark, the audience can see them in plain light. But, whenever a match is lit or a flashlight is found, the house lights are turned off and the audience is subjected to the dark. The play opens with a five minute scene consisting of the lead characters arranging the set without any light in the theatre until “a fuse is blown” and the lights come on in the theatre. Even though the stage is lit, the actors begin stumbling around as if in total darkness in an acting challenge that’s well-met by the veteran Vancouver players.

Any physical comedy runs the risk of being campy and running into “Benny Hill” slapstick territory, but the strength of the acting carries the play and it works seamlessly. The expert lighting creates a rare effect, expanding the capacity of live theatre—a welcome change from another night at the playhouse. Black Comedy brings refreshment for those in the theatre who love to be kept on their toes.

Black Comedy is playing at Arts Club’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until October 11.

Fringe Reviews You Can’t Refuse (Part 4)

By Glen Callender

The 2009 Vancouver Fringe Festival has come to a glorious end, and alas, our intrepid reviewer has been reduced to a gibbering shell of a man. Behold the final four of an epic 26 reviews, listed in the order in which they are listed:


In a tale inspired by the experiences of performer Heidemarie Muller’s grandmother in Serbia during the fall of the Third Reich, a respectable German woman struggles to protect her children and keep her family together as she is repeatedly forced onstage to perform humiliating satires of her own culture for hostile soldiers and militiamen. This bleak historical monologue is well-performed, but weakened by an ill-conceived dramatic gambit—our unfortunate mutter tells much of her story to a mysterious ghost she sees but can not recognize, a conceit that is ultimately too awkward and implausible to carry the weight of exposition that is heaped upon it.


This entry from Calgary’s Silent Drum Productions is the musical and sometimes amusing story of a young seminary student facing the trials and tribulations of preparing for a life in the priesthood. As this show is by a Catholic and aimed at a Catholic audience, it isn’t nearly as hard on the church as it could have been—but when the sometimes potty-mouthed lead character shows his unmitigated disgust at the church for protecting child-abusing priests, and ultimately decides that he isn’t “priest enough” to live an unnatural life of celibacy, the message is clear. A decent show, but I hope for sharper claws on future efforts.


A weirdy and a goodie, this one-woman show about mourning and healing teaches us to cope with life’s traumas by unleashing our inner id-child. Boasting countless charming moments including a memorably off-the-wall sex scene, Straight From That Side of Town is a refreshingly raw, honest, funny and feral performance by a genuinely eccentric performer—precisely the sort of thing the Fringe needs more of. Encore!


This one-off, late-night fundraiser show was spontaneously added to the Fringe schedule just a couple of days before it happened, because the Fringe performers—some of whom have been touring the Canadian Fringe circuit for four or five months—were yearning to stage an epic end-of-season blowout. And blow out they did, delighting the packed house with a night of fast-paced, ribald revelry that sent off Fringe ’09 in style.

Some acts performed onstage while others popped up in and around the audience, performing poetry, songs, sketch comedy, snippets of Shakespeare, and a howlingly hilarious combination of stand-up comedy and modern interpretive dance—all illuminated not by the stage and house lights, but by flashlights brought by the audience and performers. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell (actually Red Bastard star Eric Davis) even made an appearance, during which he endured the Seven Plagues as punishment for his government’s pending cuts to arts funding.

Show organizer Jem Rolls (of Jem Rolls’ Leastest Flops fame) promised that the Cabaret of Bullshit would be the sort of show that people talk about for years afterward—and verily, it was. 2009 Fringe artists, I genuflect to thee. See you all next year.

Fringe Reviews You Can’t Refuse (Part 3)

By Glen Callender

Eight days and 22 reviews into the 2009 Fringe Festival, our intrepid reviewer is now teetering on the edge of a complete nervous breakdown. Good Lord, the poor man has deteriorated to the point where he has the audacity to pan a critically-acclaimed touring production (see ‘The Seven Lives of Louis Riel” below). Behold his latest six reviews, listed alphabetically by last letter in the title:


In the funniest solo show at this year’s Fringe, “Master of Ignorance” Vaguen exhorts you to unlock the power of your ignorance, stop thinking and start living. A relentlessly brilliant send-up of motivational speaking and pop psychology, this show is guaranteed to delight. And delight again. And delight yet again. Don’t be so ignorant as to miss this one!

Until September 20 at Performance Works on Granville Island (Fringe venue 6)


The first of the three monologues in this show, the story of a cold-hearted midwife’s murderous mission to conceive a child in 1930’s Appalachia, is the best monologue from a female performer I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe. The second and third chapters—which follow the midwife’s soul through two subsequent reincarnations, the first as a yoga-enthused housewife and the second as a stressed-out film producer—don’t come up to the level of the first but this is still an impressive show. If your Fringe karma isn’t what it ought to be, Afterlife will certainly give it a bump.

Until September 18 at Playwrights Theatre Centre on Granville Island (Fringe venue 3)


Fringe theatre doesn’t get much Fringier than this. Actress Becky Poole’s cousin has an unusual form of epilepsy called Landau-Kleffner syndrome, and her family’s experience with this illness is the jumping-off point for this striking nonlinear show, which combines insights into rare neurological disorders with musical numbers and dreamlike visions of heroes and hope. This is the sort of oddball experimental fare you can only see at the Fringe, and most of it actually works—in my favourite segment Poole dons a Batman costume and accompanies a YouTube clip of an amateur opera singer with a musical saw. An honest, thoughtful, and completely off-the-wall Fringe gem.

Until September 20 at Playwrights Theatre Centre on Granville Island (Fringe venue 3)


A troubled writer moves into an allegedly haunted Vancouver Island house intending to write a biography of its ghost, but ultimately reveals herself to be more haunted than the house itself. A dark, dense and demented journey into the tormented inner world of a woman on the edge, Biographies of the Dead and Dying gets top marks for its brilliantly bleak atmosphere and inventive staging—but in the end, the overwhelming coldness of the production left me, well, cold.

Until September 19 at Havana (1212 Commercial Drive; Fringe venue F)


This facile, tickle-trunk take on Canadian history gets my “Most Overrated Fringe Show of 2009” award. It comes as no surprise that the CBC gave it five stars and called it a “must-see”, because The Seven Lives of Louis Riel is precisely the sort of pandering CanCon drivel you’d expect the CBC to be all over like flies on a pile of horse dung during the Battle of Loon Lake on June 3, 1885. Not so much a good show as a good performance by a magician intent on deceiving you into believing you’ve seen a good show, this hour of formulaic buffoonery will likely leave you gasping with glee if you laugh out loud at the Air Farce and insulted if you don’t. Almost desperately likable performer Ryan Gladstone takes no risks whatsoever, although he certainly pretends to, dropping a few token swears and then gleefully bragging about how “dirty” the show is. There are clever and inventive moments during this production but Gladstone is clearly using his considerable talents for evil in this calculated exercise in safe, ersatz-Fringe blowjobbery.

Until September 18 at Havana (1212 Commercial Drive; Fringe venue F)


Comedic sex and relationship expert Daniel Packard comes off as gayer than famed sex and relationship expert Dan Savage, but not only is he not gay, he also doesn’t have a fraction of Savage’s pansexual knowledge. Which is essential in a town like this, a point made painfully obvious when Packard—who openly admits that his act is based on oversimplified men-and-women-are-different stereotyping—was stumped by a very straightforward question from a lesbian couple. Some free advice from this bisexual reviewer: If you’re going to dispense sex and relationship advice at an alternative theatre festival in Vancouver in the year 2009, I think you need to know something about queers. Especially when you talk up how gay you are.

Until September 19 at Performance Works on Granville Island (Fringe venue 6)

Fringe Reviews You Can’t Refuse (Part 2)

By Glen Callender

Five days into the 2009 Vancouver Fringe Festival, UQEvents’ intrepid reviewer is already showing signs of mental and physical strain—but luckily for us all, his ability to write extremely high-quality Fringe reviews remains unimpaired. Behold his seven latest passings of judgment, listed in reverse-alphabetical order:


Comedy physics meets physical comedy as Montreal Improv-sketch powerhouse Uncalled For transforms the theatre into a comedy supercollider where offbeat concepts smash into each other and spin off in unpredictable directions. Similar in tone and execution to other frenetic two-man conceptual comedies of recent years, the form isn’t wholly original but the content is a delight for lovers of smart and imaginative comedy. Relentless, hilarious and frequently brilliant, Today Is All Your Birthdays is guaranteed to scratch your alternative sketch-com itch.

Until September 20 at Performance Works on Granville Island (Fringe venue #6)


Small-town librarian Esther doesn’t realize she’s a mechanic in the sack until she learns that her ex’s secret videotapes of their trysts have been nominated for an amateur porn award. Meanwhile, in the underworld, Esther’s dead 14-year-old sister tries to find her way out of Hell. The wickedly witty script is packed with quirky surprises, and adorable actress Anne Wyman has just the right geeky-sexy vibe to bring her libidinous librarian to lusty life. Primo Fringe fare that should not be missed.

Until September 19 at Performance Works on Granville Island (Fringe venue #6)


There aren’t many queer-themed shows at this year’s VanFringe, but nggrfg’s quality more than makes up for the lack of quantity. Actor and playwright Berend McKenzie elicits laughs and tears in the autobiographical role of Buddy, a half-black gay kid facing the trials and tribulations of growing up in a small Canadian town. Rejected by his birth father but loved unconditionally by his adopted father, the naïve, wide-eyed Buddy tries to fit in and ultimately learns to love—and stand up for—himself. Bring the Kleenex, because the scene where Buddy’s father helps him face down a bully had much of the audience in tears. If you’re looking for a show with a real heart, you’ll find it here.

Until September 20 at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (Fringe venue #2)


Vivacious young thespian Amy J. Lester convincingly inhabits the role of Gerry, a shallow, attention-seeking 18-year-old girl with a naughty habit of making up false identities for herself. A good premise, but unfortunately the script turns out to be just as shallow as the main character. Gerry’s motivations for lying are never properly explored, an attempted seduction by her literary idol forsakes depth and complexity for drunken belligerence, and her ultimate estrangement from her father feels forced and implausible. A solid performance, but in the end Little White Lies doesn’t offer nearly enough truth to satisfy.

Until September 20 at Origins Organic Coffee on Granville Island (Fringe venue #5)


Sheesh, talk about being sold a bill of goods! Turns out that performer John Hefner’s connection to his dad’s famous cousin Hugh Hefner is so slight that he has absolutely nothing interesting to say about it. In a nutshell, he met Hugh Hefner only once, during a visit to the Playboy mansion when his age was still a single digit. The big, hilarious payoff: Hugh Hefner gave him his first Diet Pepsi, and he didn’t like it. Seriously. That’s the most interesting and entertaining angle he could come up with.

And it only goes downhill from there. Hefner fills out the bulk of the hour attempting to contrast himself with ladies-man Hugh by regaling us with sophomoric stories about how lame he is with the ladies—but the tales he tells, such as the time he popped an embarrassing woody while dancing with a girl, and the time he went to a party and drank so much, are epically boring and unoriginal. Hefner tries way too hard to sell this tragically thin gruel, and the result is a grueling hour of some guy with a famous last name telling lame stories we’ve all heard a million times before. All in all, John Hefner has potential as a performer but he should stick to fiction until he’s had some life experiences that actually bear repeating.

Until September 20 at Origins Organic Coffee on Granville Island (Fringe venue #5)


Bouncing (and jiggling) from ’30s Berlin to ’60s Amsterdam to contemporary New York, Caberlesque! is a saucy and entertaining romp through a century of cabaret and burlesque classics. Boasting strong performances, sexy costumes and evocative set pieces, the only thing this show really needed was a hot crowd—the oldsters who showed up at 5:15 p.m. on Monday evening needed a serious dose of cocaine and Viagra, and didn’t give the performers a fraction of the hoots and hollers they deserved. See a late show if you can, and for titties’ sake, make some noise!

Until September 18 at Performance Works on Granville Island (Fringe venue #6)


Antipodean madman Jonno Katz is a true Fringe original and his work is almost a genre unto itself. This time around Katz has concocted a comedy-dance-drama hybrid about two eccentric brothers, spiced with his trademark flashes of jaw-dropping comic inventiveness. A somewhat mundane story about secrets and adultery keeps The Accident from matching the offbeat brilliance of previous Katz efforts such as Uber Alice, The Spy, and Cactus: The Seduction, but it’s still a cracker of a performance that is well worth seeing for the inspired dance sequences alone.

Until September 20 at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (Fringe venue #2)