Indie 500

With roughly 100 productions and 500 performances, the Minnesota Fringe Festival turns low-budget theater into a two-week marathon

Daddy RockiN' No Jewelry Allowed Comedy Show

Fancy RayHere's something that's strange but true: Fancy Ray, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate, cable-access talk-show personality, and self-crowned "best-looking man in comedy," has a mother. I can testify to this because I sat next to her at Fancy Ray's first Fringe foray, an entertaining scramble of impersonations, standup bits, and riffs on his famous narcissism. Pitching homeopathic products and adult bookstores on TV, Fancy Ray seems more sales gimmick than human--a weirdly androgynous Little Richard look-alike with gravity-defying hair. In person, though, his self-appreciatory humor and goofy energy come through clearly. I'm sure his mom would agree, anyway. Thu 8:30 p.m., Fri 5:30 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. Hennepin Center for the Arts Little Theatre. (Ritter)

Dang! The Ari Hoptman All-Request Show

Ari HoptmanFor the past year, locally beloved wit Ari Hoptman has been studying philology in Berlin. Appropriately, the best shtick in this, a compendium of his best shticks, affectionately skewers the Teutonic sense of humor (which is to say, humorlessness). Hoptman also manages to make fun of philology with a deadpan lecture on the history of the word boeuf. Hoptman's style is cerebral and Alpo-dry, but also seizure-inducingly funny (q.v. his delivery of an evangelical sermon entirely in Latin). For his local following, this Fringe appearance is a welcome homecoming. One caveat: Get your tickets early; Hoptman, like so many philologists, draws a big crowd. Thu 8:30 p.m., Fri 1:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Sun 8:30 p.m. St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. (Ritter)

Degrade School

Heidi ArnesonAn ASL interpreter was present at the performance I saw, desperately trying to keep up with Heidi Arneson's relentless, poetic stream-of-consciousness show about childhood. But it is impossible to imagine how the interpreter dealt with such unusual phrases as "zipper up your snicker-hole" and "bread-wrapper twist-tie rings." Arneson's popular, half-decade-old one-woman show has aged well. Every detail is crisp, alternating between the hilarious and the poignant with frightening speed; sometimes, such as when a teacher admonishes her class to place their heads on their desks and "listen to the sound of the shame," it manages to be both at once. Wed 10:00 p.m., Fri 2:30 p.m., Sat 7:00 p.m., Sun. 5:30 p.m. Acadia Cabaret. (Sparber)

DNA and the Dancing Fool

Alex PodulkeAlex Podulke displays impressive talent in writing and starring in the one-man effort. Playing Rupert Suavé (a.k.a. Koeceritz), a man who shakes free from his corporate shackles for a career as an interpretive dancer, Podulke peppers the audience with both humorous and dramatic soliloquies. Although some parts of this show are less inspired than others, Podulke's raw energy and magnetism ultimately win the day: He leaves the audience with a meaningful commentary on the role of the artist in society. Wed 10:00 p.m., Fri 7:00 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. Phoenix Playhouse Black Box. (Jonathan Kaminsky)

Edward III: The King and the Countess

Council of Doom Theatre CompanyShakespeare is hard to do. The temptation to tear at one's bosom and shake one's tiny fist at the sky is strong. Pacing is essential or the iambic pentameter will eat up your lines. Improv is out of the question. That said, the young Council of Doom Theatre Company does an admirable job with Edward III, the bawdy history-cum-tragedy recently added to the canon after centuries of obscurity. Occasionally a line will get lost in a moment of overplayed emotion, or some stubborn Elizabethan phrase will take two or three tries. But the troupe successfully uses modern costumes and an empty set to focus attention on the action in this fiery and lurid drama. Fri 7:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 5:30 p.m. St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral. (Tricia Cornell)

Kabuki! 47 Samurai

Green T ProductionsDon't let the title fool you, as there are considerably fewer than 47 samurai in this production. But then any more would have been unnecessary, because the few who retell this story of betrayal and revenge in feudal Japan do it so well. A Kabuki production may seem peculiar and mannered at first--and it is, but no more so than a cartoon. With this production, thinking of it as a cartoon is helpful, as great fun is had at various characters' expense. Unhappy patrons at Kabuki performances are famed for throwing their seat cushions onstage, but few will fly during this production, even when the script takes a fast potshot at Governor Jesse. Sat 8:30 p.m., Sun 4:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theatre Garage. (Sparber)

Keep Off the Tracks!

Richard W. RousseauAfter Richard Rousseau wraps up his hourlong cock-and-bull story, you may want to invite him for a pint at your local watering hole so you can hear a few more humdingers. The middle-aged storyteller and St. Paul resident reminisces about his delinquent boyhood days--which include a stay in the mental ward and a relentless quest for leprechauns and gold--in a small New England town during the late 1940s. With his slightly gruff yet winsome voice, Rousseau mixes the right amount of fantasy and sentiment to keep you eagerly jumping from tangent to tangent until he brings it all home. Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Phoenix Playhouse Black Box. (Swanson)

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