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: 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: The Immaculate Big Bang

By Wendy Carson

An irreverent night of comedy covering science, religion, relationships, philosophy and family, “The Immaculate Big Bang” by comedian Bill Santiago feels like what an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” would be like if it was written by George Carlin. The laughs are pretty constant, but some of the material might even make you pause to think or research one or two of the topics covered.

The material as a whole is not actually offensive, but some of it might not be to everyone’s taste. Basically, if you think the idea of telling Jesus a “Yo’ Mamma’s So Holy…” joke is in poor taste, then this show might not be for you. Otherwise, get out and see this show. Who knows, you might actually learn a thing or two from it.

Performances are at ComedySportz Aug. 25, 27 and 28. Get info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.