IndyFringe: Dadbod

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Local standup comic Brad Hinshaw has once again managed to escape his wife and kids (and not just by hiding in the bathroom) to come out and spend time with actual adults again, bringing another hour of family-centric comedy (not to be confused with “family-friendly,” some words would be bleeped on TV).

Hinshaw returns to further refine his act, “Dadbod,” in anticipation of filming it. While most of his material is the same as last year’s show – if you haven’t heard about the joy of “lactation cookies,” you really should – the newer stories are hilarious. Who knew the dangers of toddlers and super soakers?

As I said last year, this is a delightfully relatable show for parents and non-parents alike. So, take the chance to escape your own family so you can laugh at yourself as well as Hinshaw’s situations.

Today’s performance (as we post this) is 1:45 p.m., and the last is 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, both at the cabaret stage of the District Theatre.

IndyFringe: Type Cast

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

The show, “Type Cast” by Steve Freeto, tells us it is improvised poetry, poetic improv, stand-up comedy, and maybe music. What it consisted of for me was some fantastic comedy from the special guests.

We started out with a nice performance from James Avery (Your Handsome Neighborhood SpiderJames), who aptly describes himself as looking like Harry Potter got slapped with puberty. His set was a delight and I greatly look forward to hearing more from him in the future.

Our second performer of the evening was Shannon. I didn’t get her last name, but I hope she won’t hate me for that (I do know she masquerades as Marie Antoinette occasionally, but you’ll have to ask her why). She was also a fresh comedic voice whom I also hope to see again soon.

Afterwards, we get to the main three performers of the group doing what they call “Sad White Boy Improv”. This portion of the show had a rotating guest poet from one of the other IndyFringe shows included.

Their goal is to take a suggested word from the audience and have one of them tell a story involving it. The other two members then enact scenes from the story, and the poet creates a poem involving the word. While this sounds typical, they were not prepared for our audience. We were told that traditional silly words were not to be used so we ended up hitting them with words they had to look up online to be able to use (example: petulant). Still, they did their best and the show overall was pretty funny.

Freeto, who studied at Second City in Chicago, is the founder of GoProv of Goshen, Ind. For more information, visit his site, goprov.org.

IndyFringe: Scars, by Sears

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

One of the benefits of the Fringe festival format is that it allows performers to work on new and developing material. It gets a sort of dress rehearsal before an audience who bought inexpensive tickets to be part of the process, rolling with the technical glitches and jumbled lines, seeing the genius at work behind the eventual polished product.

Lissa Sears, a standup comic who has more worldly experience than most who picked up the mic only a few years ago, is developing her one-person show, “Scars” over the course of this year’s IndyFringe. Wendy saw a lot of potential in its first-ever presentation last weekend, and what I saw last night shows something truly special and inspiring in the making, and I encourage you to be part of the process.

Being a very out-and-proud lesbian is about the most ordinary thing about Sears. The first “scar” was internal, the onset of multiple sclerosis at age 25, temporarily paralyzing one side of her body. In her discomfort, she says she had rather it be cancer, which can be cut out. “Be careful what you wish for.”

As she approaches 40, a lump in her breast has her seeking “a girly doctor” and entering chemotherapy, and eventually surgery. Still, “you gotta embrace the suck, or the suck will embrace you.”

Throughout her journey, she defies any weakness in her body by taking up boxing, martial arts and distance running, even doing the Indy Mini Marathon with a walker. A chance encounter with performer and former Colts kicker Pat McAfee has her trying out and enjoying standup. She meets other celebrities, including the late Louie Anderson.

Removal of her breasts means she can go topless (though she’d rather not show her belly). This also leads her to the “flattie” community and more opportunities to spread a message of pride and empowerment.

Her personal motto is, “Don’t tell me I can’t,” and I wouldn’t dare say that of this constantly improving showcase of her ongoing brave life. Help a feisty, funny woman as she focuses her story, Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, and Friday night and Saturday evening, Sept. 2-3, at the Athenaeum.

IndyFringe: Leland Loves Bigfoot

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Last year, standup comic and Kentucky hippie Stewart Huff asked: Do jokes still work? Well, his do.

In this year’s one-man show, “Leland Loves Bigfoot,” he revisits some of that material, but has a new central anecdote, his night with a stranger waiting for a cryptid to show up.

As he looks for that sweet spot “between chaos and capitalism,” he recommends going to a snake-handling church for entertainment rather than a major theme park. He disagrees with fellow liberals saying we can’t fix what’s wrong with America, “but WILL we fix things?” he shrugs. And he decries insults taking the place of debate, “I dream of the day we have an (actual) argument.”

And he relates his visit to the little town of Mays Lick, Ky. While drinking at the local redneck bar, he is approached by a man who asks if Huff would like to go with him to his farm and look for Bigfoot.

Against his better judgement, he goes.

While they sat outdoors in lawn chairs drinking moonshine, Huff realized, “I love Leland. But I’m afraid of Leland, because he votes.” As they discuss vaccines, Scooby-doo, condemned statues, and nude driving, he maintains a brotherly affection for the man despite not agreeing with anything he says.

And that’s the main point, if there must be a moral to an incredibly funny show, that we can disagree with someone without hating them.

His energetically delivered observations elicited constant laughter and some devious thoughts, such as, “if you see someone in old-time aviator goggles, follow him” because something crazy is about to happen.

“You don’t goggle-up in the planning stages.”

Plan to see Huff at the Athenaeum, 8:45 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27-28.

IndyFringe: Exes and Embryos

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

Standup comedian Mandee McKelvey (who brought us last year’s “How I Got My Warts Prayed Off”) returns with a new hour of comedy that’s a bit discomforting and roll out of your seats hilarious.

An out-of-the-blue inquiry by a distant friend – would Mandee like to take her extra frozen embryo? – sparks a rather twisty train of thought that includes 15 solid minutes of ranting about semen (using the more common crude word that sounds like a verb). If you can manage that, she also talks about her abortion.

For mature audiences with mature minds who don’t mind some crude humor, this is a must-see. McKelvey’s frank and upbeat delivery (“just trying to find lightness in the darkness”) will win you over. Learn how IVF is like an expensive carnival game, and that standup comedy is not “family friendly” from the comic’s perspective.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings, Aug. 26-27, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Sept. 3-4, on the Indy Eleven stage at the IndyFringe Theatre.

IndyFringe: Ron Popp is a Responsible Adult

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

This is Ron Popp’s third show at IndyFringe and sadly it is his last, at least for a while. His keen observational humor, though, is still as sharp as ever.

He discusses various issues that resonate today such as aging (“I feel like I walked onto the set of ‘Cocoon’”); sensible gun laws (“even Chekhov had a three-act waiting period”); the state of our country (“we have racism, sexism – community productions of ‘Equus’”); and so much more.

We learn about his life during COVID, surviving the ‘90s, getting a new therapist, and being too gay to get cast in “The Wizard of Oz.”

The show is a laugh riot; it should not be missed as we cannot be sure how long it will be before he returns. Fortunately, you have four shots at this: 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27-28; 5:30 p.m. Thursday and 8:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 and 3; on the Indy Eleven stage at the IndyFringe Theatre.

IndyFringe: Deadpan Jan – My Life is Not a Sex Party, Or Is It?

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Jan Gudaitis is quite the enigma. She speaks in a monotone voice, she makes sharply hilarious observations, and her etomology of the English language is sublime.

Her flat vocal cadence is reminiscent of the great comedian Stephen Wright, and like him, her content is exceptionally funny.

Here you will learn why Bhutan is the happiest country in the world; how to kill your husband with a business card; who is on her list of people she’d “like to pull the plug on;” as well as which topics are not permissible when doing comedy at a nursing home.

If you search on Urban Dictionary, you will discover that her last name is defined as a “sex party”. This is due to a drunken posting by a nephew. But does she live up to that description? That is for you to decide. I can guarantee that there will be some intercourse during the performance, as well as a strong possibility of ejaculation.

Performances are on the Indy Eleven stage of the IndyFringe Theater.

IndyFringe: Do Jokes Still Work?

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By John Lyle Belden

“I saw a homeless guy with a laminated sign,” Stewart Huff says, “he put money back into the business!”

Huff is full of funny and off-the-wall observances, such as: It amuses him to no end that the replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky has a “No Animals” sign.

His show, “Do Jokes Still Work?” includes bits of storytelling, memories, and observances of the stupidity of fellow humans – “You can’t hate science, and love NASCAR!”

But he has a generally optimistic outlook, noting that noisy anti-science people are nothing new – relating various historical events in hilarious fashion. Huff believes that “all human beings are artists,” that the pinata is among our greatest inventions, and if Bigfoot is real, it’s better if we don’t find him.

When you see him take the District Theater stage, it’s a little surprising, as IndyFringe publicity materials have an old clean-shaven photo. With his salt-and-pepper beard and aging-hippie ponytail, Huff looks like your cool uncle who can tell you one hell of a story.

And he does.

Huff’s show is not for the easily offended – either by language or opinions – but otherwise an essential visit for any Fringe-goer.

IndyFringe: DadBod

This is part of IndyFringe 2021, Aug. 19-Sept. 5 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.

By Wendy Carson

Brad Hinshaw has three children born in the span of just four years. And especially after everyone being confined to home over the last year and a half, doing this show is giving him a great excuse to get away from that chaos for a while.

He regales us with stories of being a dad and dealing with a pregnant wife. We find out that Lactation Cookies not only are a thing that exists but also they are delicious (especially with an oatmeal stout).

Hinshaw also warns us of the dangers of both “Lightning Crotch” and “Bowling Alley Jello Shots”.

His stories are funny, interesting, and relatable, even if he is an “Emotional Terminator.” This being his first chance to try material in front of someone besides toddlers, not everything will have a punchline as he works on his new standup routine. Still, if it doesn’t bring a laugh, it will bring a smile.

This ever-evolving show is a must-see for anyone who is, or will be, a parent. Performances are on the Indy Eleven stage of the IndyFringe building.

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.