Aspiring millennial thespians from around the planet spent last week deep in rehearsal at Ossington-Bloor’s Mad Dog Comedy Theatre preparing for this month’s Fringe Festival, working out the kinks of their home-crafted productions.
The performances I took in hit on themes the millennial generation are endlessly and tiredly derided for: serial promiscuity, financial struggle, sexual frustration, doldrums, an array of addictions of the internet, sexual and drug variety, prolonged childhood, fleeting youth and a yearning for more than simple, nihilistic pleasures.
Baby boomers in attendance will likely be jolted back to their youthful years of the drug-addled, activist-charged, sex-filled ’60s, ’70s and ’80s (nothing’s really new under the sun) — not to mention a strong dose of nostalgia for past carefree days of glory.
Millennial audience members can expect catharsis.
All should feel a range of emotions in seeing everyday people with varying degrees of talent take the bold act of getting on stage and performing in public.
At the very least it’ll be more visceral than binging Netflix.
Here’s a little taste of what theatre goers can expect at July’s Toronto Fringe Fest.
WOKE ‘N BROKE, the millennial experience of navigating race, sexuality and avocado toast in a fast-changing world
This sketch comedy show opens with a skit in which a twenty-something guy falls head-over-heels for a girl he’s barely dated, and recounts his infatuation to his group of friends. The fun is had in that the girl just isn’t that into him, even matching with his buddy on Tinder as he ponders if she’s the one. Meanwhile the man has trouble not dating any girl he sleeps with.
In another skit, a group of women rap about being “F–k Boys,” skewering the modern day cad who uses dating apps to sleep with revolving door of women.
WOKE ‘N BROKE is a bunch of goofy SNL skits minus (thankfully) the politicization of everything. Interested Fringe goers can check out the show at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse on select days.
ANESTI DANELIS: SIX FRETS UNDER
This one-man-show is like if YouTube guitar-comedian Bo Burnham reached his late twenties and the realities of adulthood hit him like a pile of bricks.
“Sometimes, I look at my reflection, and I stare deep into my eyes. But I don’t recognize the man staring back at me,” starts Anesti Danelis’ opening song that comically looks at the existential crisis many millennials face as they drift out of their partying twenties into more sober 30s.
“Maybe I should take a solo trip backpacking through Asia, so I can come back a changed man like I did after seeing Drake at Osheaga … I need you all to know I’ve been to Osheaga.”
Those interested can see Daneli perform at The Tranzac Club Tiki Room.
F—BOYS THE MUSICAL
This comedy troupe takes a closer look at the phenomenon of the modern bounder or dog or scoundrel.
“So a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a concept known as courting. Now this is when your grandfather would fall in love with your grandmother at first sight. You know, he’d take her on dates, spend real time with her. He’d ask her father for her hand in marriage, you know, real old-fashioned like stuff. He would write her love letters that would rival anything you’d see in the Notebook…” explains the narrator before the first song drops a jarring contrast of the stereotypical modern guy’s callous, heartless and lazy attitude towards dating.
A lot of irony, unintended or not, in this performance in how third-wave feminism may not deliver on the happiness its ideology promises.
Those interested can check out F—BOYS THE MUSICAL at Streetcar Crownsnest Guloein Theatre.
Fringe Fest: A storied, populist history
The Fringe Festival — despite very different politics — is much like the Sun in its populist spirit. Acts are chosen at random and the festival takes place across Canada in major cities. Directors and actors pay for space in the festival and have to show entrepreneurial spirit and talent to attract enough of an audience to make their money back and hopefully turn a profit.
Some real success stories have come out of the Fringe Festivals.
The creators of Come From Away had their first hit with the musical My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding.
CBC’s hit show Kim’s Convenience likewise was a Fringe creation.
“This year the festival is as big and bold as ever, with 151 shows at 37 venues across Toronto,” says executive director Lucy Eveleigh.
“We are excited to be presenting a main venue in the east end for the first time this year, at Streetcar Crowsnest in Leslieville. And this year our patio, POSTSCRIPT, which is Toronto’s largest pop-up patio, will feature more free music than ever as part of the PS: Music Fest.”
Tickets are typically $11 for adults this year. Some other shows on offer: Clotheswap, Boy Falls From the Sky, Unravelled: A New Musical, Clitoria: a Sex-Positive Superhero and Old Fart.