By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Trying to provide a snapshot of the Fringe is like shooting a Polaroid of Lake Superior—you might capture part of it, but the scope of the thing is too damned big to squeeze into the frame. At the same time, there's such a thing as a sort of fractal Fringiness, in which any discrete slice somehow captures the nutty, informal, and possibility-laden whole.
In that spirit, we basically threw darts at our Fringe program and contacted some local Fringe artists for a series of guerilla interviews. Our first request: Describe your show in a dozen words or less. To keep self-promoters from the temptation of prolixity we told them we'd print only their first dozen words, cutting them off and inserting a period, thus making their ramblings incoherent. Our threat worked, and no one went over.
We then asked a few more quick, preposterously dumb questions, lending our interview subject the chance to expound on their art, their neighbors, their swimming qualifications, and, um, their philosophy of body waxing. Think of our serial interrogations as speed dating between swingers and Mennonites: You know ahead of time it's not going to work out, but it's still cheap fun to watch.
To round out your Fringe knowledge, we also compiled a handy sidebar ("If It's August...") that lists venues, prices, and ticket-scoring tips. The path to conquering Fringe Nation, Grasshopper, begins with knowledge.
The Mechanical Division
Cannibal! The Musical
City Pages: Here's a free chance to plug your show in a dozen words or less.
Ben Thietje: It's a singing and dancing, people-eating musical by South Park's Trey Parker.
CP: Does anyone in your company, the Mechanical Division, possess any real mechanical skills?
Thietje: Not only do we at the Mechanical Division possess real mechanical skills, we'll prove it by using our pneumatic wrench of hilarity to ratchet our way into your heart.
CP: Which cast member would you most rely upon should you be lost in the mountains during a blizzard?
Thietje: We would most rely upon our lead, Josh Mitchell, because he's strong, crafty, and tastes a little like a Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
Die, Clowns, Die!
City Pages: If we asked you to summarize your show, and then we told you we really don't care about the answer, but you can still have 12 free words, how would you describe it?
Joseph Scrimshaw: A one-man comedy about comedy. And death. But only funny death.
CP: Why, why, must the clowns die?
Scrimshaw: Everybody likes to laugh, but everybody hates clowns. The clowns in my show try to address this irony by amusing others with their inevitable deaths. If you accept the idea that other people's pain is funny, then other people's death (particularly clowns') should be hilarious.
CP: You reeled off some good after-show banter at the Fringe Preview recently. Do you fear you've spent all your best post-show bonhomie?
Scrimshaw: Yes, I turn my pockets inside out and find no bonhomie. My curtain speech for my actual show will be, "Thank you. Please write a review on the Fringe website," and even that will seem like a long curtain speech to me.
Best of the 24-Hour Plays
City Pages: Plug your show in 12 words or less.
Stacy Poirier: Laugh your guts out, silly, zany, emergency room, crazy theater artists' jamboree!
CP: What's your favorite segment in this year's show?
Poirier: Darth Vader. Next question: Bachelorette #3, describe the perfect date between us. Bachelorette #3: First I would put on some Barry White, then you would undress and lay on a cold metal table and I would wax you!
CP: What's your worst nightmare memory of the 24-Hour Play Festival?
Poirier: Having to put full body makeup on the only man in our show... oh wait, you said nightmare...
The Pauper's Theater
Illinois Jane and the Pyramid of Peril
City Pages: To show how much we love independent theater, here's 12 words to describe your show.
Jim Belich: An epic adventure for everyone, with pirates, an evil mime and more!
CP: How much Indiana Jones stuff are you spoofing? Will there be a giant sunken chamber of spiders?
Belich: Some, but the show has its own unique flavor as well. No spiders, but there is a fight on a moving train.
CP: If Sean Connery shows up, are you willing to work him into the show in a lame and implausible fashion?
Belich: Absolutely. We'll take Harrison Ford too, if you've got him.
The Dr.* Matt Show (*not a doctor)
CP: How would you describe your act of fraud to the American Medical Association's grand inquisitor, in 12 words or less?
Matt Peiken: The most dynamic, dysfunctional, disturbing hour on daytime television.
CP: Who is your personal self-help guru?
Peiken: Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel: His sage observations and maxims cover virtually any situation that arises in life. I'm also partial to Doug Chopra, Deepak's younger, perkier brother and an up-and-coming mystic with a taste for velour.
CP: Dr. Phil is almost certainly hiding a terrible and disgraceful secret. Discuss.