Today, I arrived at the Phoenix Theatre half an hour before showtime to find a line of people out the door, all waiting to hear some dirty kid’s songs.
Oh yeah, Fringe is off to a great start.
Schoolhouse Wrong To! Even Wronger is, indeed, a sequel to last year’s original, though you don’t need to have seen the original to appreciate this production, “unless you’re fucking dumb,” according to the troupe. Which pretty much sets the stage for the production: a series of musical numbers all modeled on Schoolhouse Rock with a side of Sesame Street. If you’re a fan of Avenue Q, you’ll enjoy this show.
Songs include “You Will Still Get Cancer,” revealing all the many painful ways we will all die despite our best efforts, “X Is a Tragic Letter,” which I found strangely thought-provoking because they’re right, the letter “x” shows up in a lot of sad/weird words, a lucid and simple explanation of the Affordable Care Act which the Obama campaign should co-opt immediately, and a song that will resonate with any Millennial, “Your Bachelor’s Degree Is Worth Shit.”
However, my favorite number involved Jesus Christ emerging from a painting in church to correct a grammatically challenged preacher. “If I hear a prayer with more than one subject/verb disagreement, I just stop listening,” he explains, before launching into the rousing “For the Love of Jesus, Proofread!” It’s a hysterical number for any grammar fiend, and one I intend to play to all of my interns from here on out, just to set the stage for the rest of our internship.
While the show was very funny and features five talented comedians and musicians, I would have liked to see a little more meat holding the musical numbers together. They move from one to the next at a frantic pace, and it would have been nice to have a little breathing room. But nonetheless, it was easy to see why this show was popular enough to merit a sequel.
In case it’s not obvious, the show is not appropriate for actual children. You can find it on the main stage at the Phoenix Theatre:
- Sunday, August 19, 3:00 p.m.
- Monday, August 20, 6:00 p.m.
- Friday, August 24, 9:00 p.m.
- Saturday, August 25, 6:00 p.m.
- Sunday, August 26, 10:30 p.m.
After a fantastic dinner with my friend Sara Croft, which you’ll be able to read about in full on the VisitIndy blog early next week, it was time for From Hipster to Dipster, a one man show staring local comedian and TV writer Scott Long. It’s a funny, sweet and sad look at his modern fatherhood, including caring for a daughter with autism and twins. It’s clear he loves those kids more than anything in the world. “I’m not a great dad,” he says, “but I’m a good dad. And that’s all I ever wanted to be.”
Here’s the thing. This show was rough around the edges. I think Scott would be the first to admit that. It’s his first time performing at Fringe and he was still trying to feel out the audience. There were persistent problems with some of his props, which threw him off. In some of the more comedic passages, sometimes it all felt like he was trying too darn hard.
But. BUT! Hear me out. I still liked this show tremendously. As Scott said at the end of the show, it takes a lot of heart to put on a production like that. There’s no doubt Scott has heart, and when he lets that out, the show is at its best. He possesses a sweetness that’s compelling, a shy little boy smile and a self-deprecating humor that helped buff off some of those rough edges. When he eases off the masturbation jokes and talks about how when someone says “don’t be a retard,” he wonders what’s so bad about being happy and non-judgmental like his daughter, his thoughtfulness and intelligence shine through.
I encourage you to give Scott a chance. I really do. I walked out of that show almost two hours ago, but I can’t stop thinking about it. There was a real courage in what Scott did tonight, and that’s ultimately what Fringe is about, even if the show isn’t perfect. But I think he knows what he needs to do to get it to perfect. Let me know what you think.
You can catch the rest of Scott’s shows at the Cook Theater, which is located inside the gorgeous Indiana Landmark Building. Note this building is NOT on Mass Ave–it’s located at Central and 12th Street. Scott’s remaining show times:
- Saturday, August 18, 3:00 p.m
- Tuesday, August 21, 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 22, 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday, August 25, 10:30 p.m.
- Sunday, August 26, 4:30 p.m.
It was a great first day at Fringe–everything you’d want it to be, from funny and smart to sad and thought provoking, sometimes all at once. Tomorrow I’m planning on catching Do Re Mi Fa So Latino, Feed Your Nightmare, and CabarGAY!. Hope to see you down there. What have you seen so far? How was it? Let me know!
My tickets were provided courtesy of IndyFringe.