Montreal is painfully hip. Not only does everyone there speak French (let’s face it, instant cool right there) it’s also hosted the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival for the last 23 years – a big X on a lot of artists’ calendars around the world.
The Fringe is a celebration of all things edgy, weird, different, unsung and nigh on unmentionable storming the stage and holding an audience’s attention for as long as they can.
There’s an eclectic mix of stand up comedy, one person shows, cabaret, singing, circus acts, plays, improvisation and riotous partying. People come from all over the world to watch the madness. Best of all, a good mate of mine from back in Australia has been blazing a trail for himself over in Montreal and invited us to come along.
I went to high school with Shane Adamczak and he was gracious enough to host us for a week at his place in Montreal while the Fringe was on. He has produced a number of highly successful Fringe shows including Love Songs for Future Girl and his current show Zack To The Future. Check out his website if you’re looking for some good tunes and belly laughs.
The St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is hosted at venues right across the city so you can see a lot of different areas all while being thoroughly entertained.
Our first show was a 50 minute improv by comedy do Hip.Bang!, two Canadian fellows who take a single word from the audience and then create an entire show from it, using nothing but their wit and wits to paint the mental pictures for the audience. No show is the same and ours involved a man trying to cut furniture from the limbs of a magic tree and a pair of miners who fell into the earth and needed to be rescued from a demon by worms. My face hurt by the end I had laughed so hard.
After each day was done the Fringe crew hosted a late night party called The Thirteenth Hour where artists can get up on stage and really let their creative and controversial sides out. We saw an Australian performer who goes by the moniker ‘Dandyman’ balance a watermelon on his head while stripping down to nothing but a caveman outfit all to a tune by the Bee Gees.
Halfway through the show he dropped the watermelon on the stage and it smashed. He then proceeded to smother himself in watermelon juice… as you do.
Shane’s show Zack To The Future sold out a huge number of performances and was named as a must see at the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival.
I sat in the front row like a Shane groupie and laughed my head off at the jokes, marvelled at the time travel twisted plot and bopped along to the songs he sang and strummed. There’s an excerpt of the show in the video at the top of this post so check that out and be your own judge.
The big lesson from the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival is that there are some amazingly talented people out there who don’t get the publicity or audiences they deserve. I’m glad I was able to see some things so thoroughly different to what I’m used to, and I’ll be sure to seek more of it out.
Video transcript: Montréal Fringe Festival
Carmen VO – Montreal is world renowned for its Fringe Festival – a collection of underground, underrated and unsung performances now in its 23rd year…and we arrived in this bilingual city right on time.
Dave VO – There’s no censorship, so anything goes –and our tour guide for this edgy event is none other than a veteran of the scene, Shane Adamczak, who I went to High School with – he’s been busy since I last saw him!
Dave VO – Shane has his own show at the Fringe – so what’s it all about?
Carmen VO – To line our stomachs for the wild ride we needed a classic Montreal dish
Carmen VO – Ok that was a big meal. Now to watch some shows, here’s one of our favourites from the Fringe…
Dave VO – Time for Shane’s show Zack To the Future which played quite a few sold out crowds at the Fringe and was one of the must see shows… here’s a taste…