Category Archives: entertainment

My stand up debut at Firehouse Saloon

 

One of the goals that I had for 2015 was to write and perform 5 minutes of stand up material. I’m not sure where I got the notion that this had to be on my proverbial bucket list, but there it was.

Maybe because my humor column often starts out with me musing aloud, and then I write it down and adapt it for the reader. Maybe it’s part of my quest to be Carol Burnett, and I figure learning to stand alone on stage and talk just strengthens every other part of my humor experience. Maybe it’s because I tried and loved improv and need to up my investment, the way people start out using marijuana and end up addicted to heroin.

Whatever the reason, last summer I met with a local comic named Allish that I know from improv, and he walked me through some of this methods for writing jokes. He even convinced me to come and watch an open mic night. It was intimidating but not completely impossible for me to imagine doing it. I never took the extra step to write and perform but I kept thinking about it.

Stand up is different from improv in that with improv, you’re not alone on stage. You have partners and a team who are there to support you. Your job is to work with your partners, and while it’s all off the cuff, you know that you’ve got each other’s backs. There’s no wrong answer, no judgement, all support.

Stand up? While there might be support before and after, you’re on your own on stage, with no one to step in and pick up the ball if you fumble. Continue reading

Notes from the Fringe: Pirates and Downton and Disco, oh my!

The cast of the Cabinet of Wonders.

The cast of the Cabinet of Wonders. Photo credit Erich Camping

As the festival winds down to the last days, just a quick recap of yesterday and a reminder of a few shows you’ll not want to miss.

The Steele Sisters

The Steele Sisters

Yesterday, my improv teammates Laura Fleming and Don Beechner joined me for the Steele Sisters at the Strong Museum of Play. We hit the 9 PM special pirate show. Well, actually, Don went to the earlier show and had so much fun he came back for more comedy, sword-fighting, and sisterly love.  The Steele Sisters’ run at the festival is done, so you’ll have to catch them on the Renaissance Festival circuit.
Continue reading

Notes from the Fringe: Ann Landers, Princess Wendy, and naked laughter

Sinda Nichols is Ann Landers/Eppie Lederer in "The Lady With All The Answers".

Sinda Nichols is Ann Landers/Eppie Lederer in “The Lady With All The Answers”.

It was Hump Day at the Fringe, and that phrase took on a whole new meaning with the two shows I saw last night.

“The Lady With All The Answers”, starring Sinda Nichols, is a one woman show based on the letters of Ann Landers. Written by David Rambo, it’s funny, classy and poignant, and a must see for anyone who ever read the “Dear Ann Landers” column – or had a column stuck on the fridge as a gentle suggestion that there’s a problem that needed to be discussed which no one was really sure how to bring up.

No topic was off limits to Ann Landers, from the appropriateness of doing housework in the nude to the proper way address sexual fantasies with a partner to the mundane dilemma of which way is the proper way to hang a roll of toilet paper (back to the wall, of course). She was the first to discuss homosexuality in a column and to talk about oral sex on television. Of course, less sexually charged topics came up just as frequently – settling family disputes, proper manners, dealing with difficult coworkers.

Sinda Nichols is Ann Landers in "The Lady With All The Answers".

Sinda Nichols is Ann Landers in “The Lady With All The Answers”.

The show takes place in 1975 on the eve of a deadline in which Ann – or in her real life Eppie Lederer – is writing the most difficult column in her (to that point) twenty year career. Through the monologue, as well as phone calls from her daughter, sister and husband, we learn more about her marriage, her relationship with her sister (who penned the Dear Abby column), and her trip to Vietnam to visit with the troops, something she didn’t write about in her column. Continue reading

Notes from the Fringe: Improv, a tease, and The Lady With All The Answers

I got to meet actress Sinda Nichols, who portrays Ann Landers in "The Lady With All The Answers".

I got to meet actress Sinda Nichols, who portrays Ann Landers in “The Lady With All The Answers”.

This is preview post of sorts, since technically I didn’t hit any official Fringey things on Monday. But there are some fun things happening tonight and tomorrow that I want to make sure you don’t miss.

Tonight, Tuesday, is a great night for improv and sketch comedy. Don’t miss: Continue reading

Notes from the Fringe: Coffee, Gospel and Left For Dead

Java's on Gibbs Street.

Java’s on Gibbs Street.

It was Sunday at the First Niagara Fringe Festival and I started out the day on Gibbs Street, having coffee and a scone at Java’s. The city is beautiful in the morning, with the sun streaming through the trees and people milling about outside the coffee shop. I really should come down here more often.

My friend and improv partner Laura met me again. We had breakfast with a sparrow and met a dog named Bam Bam.

I shared my oatmeal scone with a sparrow.

I shared my oatmeal scone with a sparrow. Laura scared the sparrow. Repeatedly. And not always accidentally.

This is Bam Bam. I met him in Java's with his mom, Middle.

This is Bam Bam. I met him in Java’s with his mom, Middle. He shared Laura’s scone.

We also ran into our other improv partner, Don Beechner, and fellow improviser Peg DeBaise. Don’s one busy guy this week, doing readings and sketch and theater; you can catch him in a few shows this weekend, including Polite Ink: Sketch & Improv Presents: 9 More Minutes on Tuesday and Murder by MacGuffin this Friday and Saturday. Peg will be appearing in Triple Entendre on Tuesday at MuCCC. (Non-Fringe plug: Don and Peg are both part of the Photo City Players, the new house team at Photo City Improv on Atlantic Avenue, behind Sticky Lips.)

Don Beechner and Peg DeBiase, improvisors, actors and all around very funny people.

Don Beechner and Peg DeBiase, improvisers, actors and all around very funny people.

At the end of the street, kids from the Carlson MetroCenter YMCA, along with their mentors, were decorating the streets with chalk, filling an already beautiful corner of the city with more color. Continue reading

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 … Continue reading

Notes from The Fringe: Alexander Morgan and the music from the Cabinet of Wonders

Music from Alexander Morgan provided the soundtrack to the Cabinet of Wonders show at this year's First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. It was spellbinding.

Music from Alexander Morgan provided the soundtrack to the Cabinet of Wonders show at this year’s First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. It was spellbinding. (photo Joanne Brokaw)

Just a quick update: I spent the evening on Thursday at the opening night of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival, checking out the art, shows and activities in the Spiegelgarden, the heart of the festival. I’m doing a long post for Rochester Subway, but since it won’t run until Monday I wanted to quickly share something amazing from a show called the Cabinet of Wonders.

It’s this really funky, classy, smart and sassy variety show with comedy, acrobatics, juggling and more. It was really, really entertaining. (There’s more in this post.) But I walked away really moved by the music from Alexander Morgan, which offered the musical backdrop to the aerial dancer and acrobatics.

The show was amazing, but the music really tied it all together. It was spellbinding. And since there wasn’t much of a plug for him specifically – the performers were mentioned by name at the end of the show but that’s it –  I wanted to make sure that if you saw the show, you knew how to get his music. He’s just released his debut album, “For The King”, available on iTunes.

For The King is the debut album from alternative rocker Alexander Morgan, who also does the music for the Cabinet of Wonders show at this year's First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.

For The King is the debut album from alternative rocker Alexander Morgan, who also provides the music for the Cabinet of Wonders show at this year’s First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.

Many of you know that for a long time I used to cover entertainment for Christian and community publications, so naturally I was intrigued by the album and a few of the song titles. You get sensitive to certain words and phrases  (“The Flood”, “Thoughts Upon A Hill”, stuff like that) , and I wondered if there was a spiritual inspiration to his songwriting. So I asked, and he answered:

“Though most of [the songs] don’t speak literally to a particular faith or belief, I absolutely draw upon my relationship with religion and spirituality. Many of the questions I ask in these songs involve a philosophical challenge to even my own beliefs. So the fact that you pick up on that is certainly no coincidence. The title of the album refers to a sort of fictional antagonist in the loose ‘story’ of the album, but really represents people who put it upon themselves to abuse power and act as (very dramatically put mind you) Demi-gods. People in politics, war lords, religious heads, or even those who govern our hearts. It’s a broad metaphor, but they certainly all relate in my mind. “

It’s beautiful music with thought provoking themes. You can learn more on his website, AlexanderMorganMusic.com.

You can find my posts about the Fringe on RochesterSubway.com, including my review of Remote Rochester, one of the many fascinating events taking place this week.

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