Fringe Festival Reviews #8

Man with eye blocker on and three people drawing Jimmy Cao. Photo Rachel Levine

Jimmy Hogg: The Potato King

Jimmy Hogg, a Toronto-based English comedian sure knows potatoes… and mushroom risotto. The Potato King is a “love story” that recounts the tumultuous romantic relationships of a gourmand as he mismatches his way through Tinder. Who merits fine bottles of wine and meals made with attention to detail and the greatest of tenderness. During the show, he zips around with mad energy and delivers sharp, observational humour with the precision of a Wüsthof knife. Once he began dialing up his energy, started, which was pretty much from his opening sentence, I was riveted. He’s here for one more night, so get a ticket if they’re still available or head out to Ottawa where he’ll be next. And if he invites you for dinner, say yes and show up on time.

Jimmy Hogg: The Potato King is at O Patro Vys (356 Mt Royal) on June 15. Tickets HERE.

Bucket List : Life is Short, Make it Magical

Jimmy Cao has a list of 52 things he wants to accomplish before turning 30. Some he accomplished before this Fringe – traveling to Japan and solving a Rubik’s cube – but one of the things on the list is performing magic. Another is having a solo show (I wasn’t sure if those were two separate things or one thing). Abracadabra! Here he is, on stage doing both. The tricks are the sort you’d find at a magic show, reading minds, balls n’ cups, pulling things out of thin air, but what makes the show special, or any magic show for that matter, is him. His disarming personality and just-nerdy-enough sincerity are authentic enough to melt the most staunch anti-magic audience member. He celebrates being the child of Chinese immigrants with Tiktok-ish irony, love, and humour. He has great rapport with the audience and a moving story and positive message to boot. Jimmy Cao is walking out of this Fringe with many fans who will be lining up for his next show.

Bucket List: Life is Short, Make it Magical is at O Patro Vys (356 Mt Royal) on June 16. Tickets HERE.

How Birds Sing

Jeff Gandell is one of Montreal’s most beloved storytellers and he’s known for midwifing many a storyteller into the scene. But since becoming the father of two young children, his time to do what he is most passionate about has had to be put somewhere on a list behind potty training. In How Birds Sing, Gandell addresses how his artistic and creative practice has been modified by a major life change. Seems like the perfect time to take up the one thing he’s always wanted to do: being a singer-songwriter. Clinging by his fingernails to the hours in which he finds time, he does his best to keep on making art. As any creative knows, sometimes one discipline has to give rise to another, and in this show, we see Jeff pick up his guitar and sing original songs about his struggles and triumphs of being a dad and husband, interspersed with stories. In his signature style, Jeff lays out uncomfortable truths before an audience, the kinds of things I would keep to myself. He opens up about his desire to have a second child, his worst days teaching, his imperfect voice, and on why writing ruins his posture.

How Birds Sing is at O Patro Vys (356 Mt Royal) on June 15. Tickets HERE.

Jon Bennett: Ameri-can’t

Always traveling Australian Jon Bennett pays us a visit with a show about his experiences going home during COVID. While Bennett begins with his raunchy, playful humour about making cocks out of large, let’s face it, phallic objects, and recounting a one-night stand with a girl with a fondness for odd cultlery, this show goes deeper and darker than previous ones when he is forced back to Australia. Even though they love him, living in the remote outback, his odd pig-farming family can’t do much to help his predicament. Ultimately the show asks what to do when you completely lose your identity through unfortunate circumstances: do you give up, get a forklift license, or claw your way back to your career. This solution is not so obvious when the world has ranked your career as the most unessential one of all. Occasionally Bennett’s a bit shouty, but he always brings the audience back with his crazy adventures documented with the accompanying power point of gifs, meme-able photos, and occasional video clips. Bennett is one of a kind.

Jon Bennett: Ameri-can’t is at Cafe Campus (57 Prince Arthur) on June 16. Tickets HERE.

Info and tickets HERE. Info about all shows at the Montreal Fringe Festival can be found HERE.

Other reviews related to the 2024 Montreal Fringe Festival: The Fringe is Upon usThe Kid Was a Spy, Wit and Wrath: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker, TA PLACE DANS LA FINALITÉ D’UN MONDE, La Germaine et le Vieux Criss, Les échos de Katerina et Danse de la mort, Me and Her, The Deadline, The List: A Traumady About Probiotic Masculinity, Stories from the Brink, The Singing Psychic Game Show, D’arrache-pied jusqu’au bout de tes doigts, Potion Ethics, The Death of Homer.

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts