Notes from the Fringe: Improv, groundhogs and other wonders

The Spiedelgarden at night is a gorgeous place to just hang out. This is

The Spiedelgarden at night is a gorgeous place to just hang out. This is “What if” by local artist Scott Grove. Watch for my piece at RochesterSubway.com, where I share more about him.

As you know, I’m covering the Fringe for RochesterSubway.com, my favorite local website. Saturday, however, was designated for me as “no work day.” Instead, my friend and improv partner Laura and I had tickets for several shows and we were going to spend the day just hanging out. It was raining, so I left the camera in the car and didn’t take the notebook out once.

The good news is that we had a blast – I mean, a really rip roaring good time.  The bad news is that I have no photos to show you of the shows we saw. So you’ll have to just close your eyes and imagine …

Thank You Kiss sketch comedy performs again on Tuesday, 9/22.

Thank You Kiss sketch comedy performs again on Tuesday, 9/22.

We started out at at Blackfriars Theater for Thank You Kiss Presents Tender Gestures, featuring Marc D’Amico, Megan Mack, John Forrest Thompson, and Beth Winslow. It’s super funny, super smart, super polished sketch comedy. I’ve taken classes with Megan Mack and John Forrest Thompson, but this was the first time I’ve seen the perform. I’m really grateful that we have so much great talent in Rochester, and that they’re willing to share it with us. Thank You Kiss performs again Tuesday 9/22 at 9 PM at Blackfriars Theater. Definitely put that one on your calendar.

We grabbed burgers on Gibbs Street, and walking over to the Spiegelgarden we ran into Alexander Morgan, who does the music for the Cabinet of Wonders show at the Rochester Fringe Festival. You know that I’ve been gushing a bit about him since I saw the show the other day. He was with Heidi Morgan, who along with her husband Matt created the show, and two of the performers, Goulia Pivaral and Sasha Pivaral.

Because Alexander and I are now like, besties and everything (on Facebook, anyway), I stopped to introduce myself in person, give him a hug, and then proceeded to gush yet again to the whole group about how much I enjoyed the show. While my write up about what’s happening at the Spiegelgarden won’t post at Rochester Subway until Monday or Tuesday, I’ll tell you what I told them: The show is breathtaking. The music and acrobatics are achingly beautiful. Even the comedy, which is hilarious, is simply gorgeous in that venue setting. It’s two hours of smart, sassy entertainment in the stunning Spiegeltent, and if you’re looking for a way to really experience Fringe, check it out. The show runs daily in the Spiegeltent (times here). Here’s a taste of what you’ll see:

The Cabinet of Wonders show takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

The Cabinet of Wonders show takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

The Cabinet of Wonders show takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

The Cabinet of Wonders show takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

You know what? Since you guys know that I’m not a professional photographer, here are a few more pics that I snapped that night, which quality-wise won’t make it to the Rochester Subway website but will give you a taste of the show.

Heidi and Matt Morgan are the husband and wife team behind Cabinet of Wonders, which takes place daily in the Spiegeltent. This is just one of their hilarious acts, tumbling in gold lame.

Lots of comedy at The Cabinet of Wonders show, which takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

Lots of comedy at The Cabinet of Wonders show, which takes place daily in the Spiegeltent.

Here's one more photo, of contortionist Sasha Pivaral, from the opening ceremony on Thursday. She shot an arrow ... using her feet ... and broke a balloon.

Here’s one more photo, of contortionist Sasha Pivaral, from the opening ceremony on Thursday. She shot an arrow … using her feet … and broke a balloon.

Anyway, I should have taken a selfie with the group, but I’m not huge on selfies. Plus, I was blabbing away in the middle of the intersection and they were trying to be polite without getting hit by a car. Here, how about a photo I took a few minutes later on Gibbs Street, of this guy with a groundhog on his shoulder? You don’t see that everyday on the streets of Rochester.

Walking down Gibbs Street, I saw a man with a groundhog on his shoulder. Welcome to the Fringe.

Walking down Gibbs Street, I saw a man with a groundhog on his shoulder. Welcome to the Fringe.

I also ran into my friends from the Mystery Company, doing a promo for their show, Murder By MacGuffin. My other improv partner Don is in the show, which you can catch on Friday 9/25  and Saturday 9/26.

It's a Hitchcock whodunit with the Mystery Company's Murder by McGuffin, doing a preview on the Gibbs Street stage.

It’s a Hitchcock whodunit with the Mystery Company’s Murder by McGuffin, doing a preview on the Gibbs Street stage. Sorry for the crummy cell phone photo.

Laura and I (and everyone else, it seems) trudged in the rain over to Geva to see Estrofest. These ladies of comedy – Dresden Engle, Andrea Holland, Norma Holland, Allison Roberts, and Freyda Schneider – had everyone in stitches with their sketches, including “Real Housewives of Rochester”, along with a lot of video. There are shows today, 9/20, Thursday 9/24, and Saturday 9/26.

We checked out Nuts & Bolts improv, which was lots of fun. The group consisted of six guys and a girl doing short form games, and was hosted by Rich Caniglia. It’s spontaneous fun, heavy on the audience input and, if I’m being honest, a lot of guy humor 0r maybe it just seemed that way after Estrofest.

We also got to see one of Rochester’s best improv groups perform a really unique show. Unleashed! Improv Presents: Other People’s Shows was an hour of, well, everybody else’s shows. They had the audience pick a show from the Fringe guide and then they performed their interpretation of what they thought the show was. I was literally laughing so hard I was crying. And just when I thought I had it under control, they set me off again. The group includes Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst, who also bring you Hot Tub: The Musical; Bushwacked; and Dashboard Diaries, running throughout the festival.

Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst are also the creators of Hot Tub: The Musical.

Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst also bring you Hot Tub: The Musical.

Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst are also the creators of Bushwacked. There's theater going on in that little yellow tent.

Kerry Young and Abby DeVuyst are also the creators of Bushwacked. There’s theater going on in that little yellow tent.

Unfortunately, this was your only chance to see Other People’s Shows. See what you missed? Don’t let that happen again. Check out the Fringe guide for hundreds of other great shows taking place all week. Tonight, there’s a Pedestrian Drive In at the Spiegelgarden, showing “The Blind Side” under the stars.

Catch a movie under the stars at the Pedestrian Drive In.

Catch a movie under the stars at the Pedestrian Drive In.

The movie starts at 7:30 and it’s free. Seating is first come, first served.

Today, I’m headed to Writers & Books to see Left For Dead improv at 1 PM. They’re just back from traveling to two comedy festivals in Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. If you’re looking for something fun to do this afternoo, feel free to join us!

And be sure to visit RochesterSubway.com for lots of great local news and events coverage, including my review of the Remote Rochester event, which might must change your life a little bit.

You can find links to all of my posts from the Fringe here.

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