IndyFringe: Footlose

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Yes, that’s “lose,” with one “o.” ComedySportz is doing more than hosting a venue, it is also presenting a parody in the style of one of its long-form improv shows.

“Footlose: A No-Dance Town” mocks the classic coming-of-age film that brought us Kevin Bacon’s Angry-Dance, brought to life by ComedySportz cast members Rick Randjelovic (director/writer), Todd Kenworthy, Frankie Bolda, Jamie Rich, Matt Kerkhoff, and Chad Woodward. Of course, they can’t do it all alone. Audience suggestions help propel this parody, aided by buckets into which we place slips of paper with popular quotes and funky dance moves.

Apparently, we’ve all seen the same movies, because the citizens of this mid-American town keep having to find new ways to say “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” And it’s interesting how many ways they come up with to do the “Funky Chicken.” Still, these are professional goofballs, so the laughs keep on rolling as they re-enact something roughly resembling the Bacon flick, and get it done within the allotted hour.

It was good to see these comedians “cut loose” in their natural habitat. Remaining performances are Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 22-24) at 721 Massachusetts Ave.

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IndyFringe: The Cookie Dough Show

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Fringe shows are often full of half-baked ideas. Emerging Artists Theatre Indy presents several, in various flavors, so you are sure to find at least one you like. 

There’s a Christmas comedy with a misunderstanding around “Santa Clara.” There is a series of quick funny scenes that take jabs at customer service, mansplaining and The Container Store. I even saw a couple of pieces of moving drama. All this is locally written, presented by local talent.

And then, there’s Paige.

No matter what you think of any one scene or sketch, it is more than worth your ticket to see the finale, Paige Scott at a tiny piano singing the praises of an underrated Hollywood superstar. It is so much more funny than you think, even if you know the comic heights Scott is capable of.

In exploiting the function of Fringe to incubate theatre ideas, EAT is on to something with this show. Hopefully they will scoop up more “dough” in future festivals.

Sorry to be vague, but lineups change with each performance. Remaining dates are Thursday and Sunday (Aug. 22&25) at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: Jan of All Trades

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

In what Jan Shirley Ann calls her “autobiocomedy,” our stand-up and seminarian presents a clean family-friendly show. In fact, when I saw it, a good number of family and friends were in the audience. But you don’t have to be related or have grown up with her in Gary, Ind., to understand and laugh along with her stories of life’s road that led her here.

Yes, she’s from the hometown of the Jacksons, and even was in a singing group that called itself The Jacksons’ Five (note the placing of the apostrophe to avoid confusion). She tells of dissecting frogs in Vacation Bible School, using a Jamaican accent for no reason, learning Japanese, teaching the Japanese to speak English (badly), and of the exceptionally handsome man the Lord used to persuade her to attend Butler University. 

Not often you see a comedian-storyteller who is also a minister in training, but that could explain why an hour with her feels like such a blessing.

She only has so many relatives and bff’s; y’all need to come out and enjoy this show, too. Performances are Friday through Saturday nights at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Ave. 

IndyFringe: BRAIN-O-RAMA — Mentalism and Mischief

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Kevin Burke is a brave soul, and I’m not referring to him calling himself “the world’s only psychic comedian” or how he plays Russian roulette with staple guns — meaning we either get a mentalist trick or a sideshow geek act — but because he has the audacity of leaving the sound-effects for his show totally in the hands of the venue tech.

At ComedySportz.

At the show I attended, the goofball up in the tech’s crow’s nest was Mark Cashwell, which meant that Burke’s hilarious antics just got that much funnier.

Goofy noises aside, Burke demonstrates his “telepathetic” powers in various ways, and even teaches us a trick. He also leaves some of the mentalism in the hands of the amateurs he brings up on stage so if it works, he’s a genius; if it doesn’t, it’s your fault. Bur regardless, you will laugh — a lot.

See and experience yourself this Friday, Saturday or Sunday (Aug. 23-25) at ComedySportz, 721 Massachusetts Ave.

IndyFringe: It Gets Bitter, The Ron Popp Story

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Ron Popp is a Native Hoosier, and he says that you can tell by his accent, that he’s gay. Growing up in the small southern town of Fairland, Indiana, and attending the University of Indianapoli,s he has many fond memories of the state and its people. Still, it’s been 15 years since he’s spent time in our city and he has noticed the many changes in that period alone.

Popp deftly guides us through stories of his childhood, dating life, gay marriage (he still uses the term just because it still irks some people) and love of the theater. Between his homey insights, sharp tongue and witty cynicism, he manages to keep the audience laughing. Plus, his show has something for every walk of life.

I find it hard to give you a more detailed review without directly quoting his jokes and I know I could not do them the justice they deserve. What surprises me most is that this is his first Fringe Festival. So let me say this, let’s all give him a warm Hoosier welcome and pack the house each show for a night of laughs. Also, this guy’s going to be a major headliner soon, so you’re not likely to get this opportunity to see him in this sort of an intimate setting, at this price, again.

With performances Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday (Aug. 20-21 & 24) at ComedySportz (721 Mass. Ave.), the show also makes a great palate-cleanser to help you even out your psyche after partaking of some of the more somber offerings at the Fringe.

IndyFringe: Adventures While Black in Great Britain

This show is part of the 15th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 15-25, 2019 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Les Kurkendaal-Barrett and husband John are at their Green Card “audition.” Les is asked: Is his marriage to this “obnoxious Brit” for real? Being a teller of autobiographical stories for Fringe shows, he gives the Immigration officer — and us — the whole scoop.

Those who have been to his past shows may remember his former relationship. Les comes clean about how toxic that situation was, and how despite efforts to the contrary he fell into yet another romance with a white man. But at least this family of in-laws will be normal — right?

A trip to England for John’s father’s funeral brings Les into contact with his new relatives. This includes Cousin Nigel of the multiple grandfather clocks and wild mood swings; and blunt-spoken Aunt Enid, who lives in Stratford. “You know about Shakespeare, right?” We also learn about “tea shaming,” what song helps you when driving in the U.K., and that Brighton is the nation’s Gay Capital.

Les just has that way about him that makes you want to be his friend, and a storytelling style that makes any little thing that happens sound wild and fascinating. There were plenty of seats at the first IndyFringe performance, but they will be a lot harder to come by at his last. Find him 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at ComedySportz, 721 Mass. Ave. 

IndyFringe: ‘Why Be Normal?’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at www.IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Elizabeth Young Collins has lived a very interesting life. She shares some of its highlights with us, punctuated by snippets of songs.

She grew up in a large non-Catholic family (which was so quirky that it was featured in a copy of Life magazine shortly before she was born).

She was an exchange student in France, attended a prestigious Finishing School and had a nervous breakdown in her teens. She even competes in a Junior Miss pageant, but loses out because she is considered to be too fat.

After earning a college degree in French, she moves to New York and becomes a school teacher. After a while she ends up as a financial analyst with Merrill Lynch. However, she quits that job to pursue her dream of performing on Broadway. She got a role or two, but it didn’t work out.

A few years later she is on a vacation with her girlfriends when they enter her in a singing competition. Not only does she end up winning it, she gets a singing job with the resort band. A good deal of networking later, she is, at the age of 40, a legitimate singer. At 47, she ends up marrying the handsome guy who’s been carrying her equipment around. Women’s World then does an article on her about never giving up on your dreams.

This offering is quirky and sweetly sentimental. While it is suitable for all ages, it will more strongly appeal to the Baby Boomer generation.

Elizabeth presents her story at ComedySportz, 721 Mass Ave.