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July 23, 2017

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Fringe Review #5: Outside Joke

July 26, 2017

 

The show started innocently enough. Local actor Kristian Jordan, whose beautiful hair ignited the sexual awakening of all the teenage girls in Churchill, Manitoba earlier this year, used his stage voice to demand a musical about a dystopia. Sounds great, huh? What could go wrong, right? 

 

Clowns.

 

Clowns could go wrong.

 

So began the most traumatic hour of my life (and I’ve lived through all three World Wars).


Fear is a funny thing. A few years ago, a good friend of mine played a clown in a show. And no matter how many times I reminded myself of who he was, and that he was acting, I was still terrified of him when he was in character. It was the same here: I have never been more afraid of any of these people than I was when they were making weird noises and bouncing around in creepy, clownish ways. The nightmares haven’t ended. I definitely won’t be able to see Mamma Mia now. Jury’s still out on Nine Dragons.

 

The first time I saw an Outside Joke show, I was floored that people could just make up songs on the spot! Even though I was in jazz band and used to make up songs on the spot with a trumpet, doing it with a VOICE and WORDS seemed like some next level wizardry to me. 

 

I respect their group dynamic so much, which is cohesive while still giving enormous room and space for each member’s individuality to shine to the ultra max. As a group and as individual artists, they are beginning to reach a pretty high level in their work, and could easily cop some Lea Michele diva realness. Instead, they exemplify the “send the rope down” mentality made famous by the free preview of Kevin Spacey's online masterclass Facebook ads that the world needs more of. They support other artists, they include other artists, they encourage other artists, and they inspire other artists. Winnipeg is real freakin’ lucky to have these special folks around, because not every city does.

 

Could there be less clowns in their work? Absolutely. Could the group take an oath upon an altar, slaughter a clown, and vow to never do any clown-like things again? I certainly hope so. To their enormous credit, there were absolutely zero clowns in the other show I saw. Instead, merely a murderous villain with a very severe speech impediment and a haunted Walmart that stood as a tragic tale of capitalism and gave me pause to reflect upon the corporate contribution of capitalism to and upon communities, especially communities with low socioeconomic status, and how chain stores can just as easily build and ruin these communities, and more often the latter than the former … all of which I found way less terrifying than clowns!

 

As an audience, Outside Joke is a wild ride from start to finish. They have never not made me laugh and smile and feel happy about having put on clothing and gotten out of bed. As an artist, Outside Joke is probably the best place to go to steal ideas for your own future gain and profit. I have never left a show without tucking away a few gems to reflect upon later. As a mild fashionista, I have never not been impressed with Jane Testar’s style.

 

71 Walhburgers for Outside Joke! So very close to a perfect score, were it not for the clowns. 

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