I apologize for the lack of an update last week. My time was being filtered in all sorts of different directions. Particularly new for me was my volunteer work at our local theatre festival: The Fringe.
Running on its 34th year with the Mary Poppins-esque theme of SupercaliFringelistic, the Fringe is an ode to theatre both on stage and in the streets. Venues host shows ranging from local to global, and street performers come from all over to perform for thousands for a period of ten days.
I only took in two shows this year—which I will talk about next week—but I saw a lot of street performers from my post. I worked with the Community Engagement team, helping Fringe sponsors and getting people to sign up for the Fringe Fanclub newsletter and our big draw. I spent about four hours every day for a week inside the gazebo that was facing the big outdoor stage, where some of the better street shows get to perform.
Here were a few of my favourites:
Eden—A stunt performer working with ladders and whips. I can attest from personal experience that whips are not easy to use without hurting yourself—though, in my case, it was a cheap Halloween whip and my sister was the one wielding it, but her thigh severely regretted it—but this guy makes it look easy. In addition to demonstrating his skills cracking two whips at the same time in rapid succession, a major portion of his show had him aiming at spaghetti, which he would hold behind his back, between his legs, or on top of his head.
Every street performer I saw had a comedic aspect to the show, and Eden was no different. His humour was far more adult than the other performers, and did consist of a lot of Asian jokes (He’s Chinese-Canadian) that were often so bad you had to laugh. Admittedly, his humour doesn’t make him the best performer for your kids to see if you’re worried about them actually understanding those kinds of jokes.
Though, he did give me one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.
“Sir, can you please not laugh while I’m trying to be sexy?”
The Flying Dutchmen—A combination juggling and unicycle act. Upwards of five flaming torches were a staple in their act. They demonstrated their juggling with some flaming torch warm-ups and juggling around a volunteer and knocking a cigarette out of their mouth—no flaming torches here, of course, just regular juggling pins. Their entire performance built up to a tandem juggling trick involving two tall unicycles and fire.
The Dutchmen had a “Smart Guy, Dumb Guy” routine, which was funny, and certainly more child friendly than a performer like Eden. Only a couple jokes would go over a kid’s head, but mostly because it might be a pun as opposed to anything dirty. These two were a treat to watch.
Victor Rubilar—If I had to pick who I thought the funniest performer was, it’s this guy. All the way from Barcelona (though he claimed to be from Argentina), his act was entirely based around his soccer prowess, and the stereotype of the Latin Lover. A holder of five World Records, Rubilar’s act consisted of various tricks involving some of the most neon soccer balls I’d ever seen. Spinning tricks, kick tricks, juggling upwards of five soccer balls at a time, these were the staples of his act.
But between his warm-ups and his grand finale, he proudly demonstrated his dance prowess. He selected a woman from the audience—always one with a boyfriend or husband accompanying them—and brought them on stage. He had this elaborate story he’d crafted for this volunteer, whom he called Maria, about their whirlwind romance back in Argentina. This was followed by a minute-long dance montage that encompassed several songs and several genres, all performed seamlessly, to demonstrate Rubilar’s skills at seduction and rising to a climax involving a bikini tan line.
Trust me, it’s hilarious when you see it.
The Street Circus—If I had to pick the best act overall, I would vote these guys. A husband and wife duo, the Street Circus was an acrobatic show with stunts that could have put the performers straight into Cirque de Soleil. Their jokes were mostly family friendly and their warm-ups simple tricks that I’d seen performed before by other performers, it was the their solo acts that impressed me the most. The wife—Kim—was a contortionist who performed an extended acrobatic, contortion, hula hoop dance to “You Spin Me Right Round,” starting with one, going steadily to four, and ending in a dramatic twirls of forty-two hula hoops. Her husband—Dan—was up next, performing in a giant ring of steel called the cyr wheel. This was where the show took the Cirque turn, with beautiful instrumental music and a hypnotic amount of grace on Dan’s part as he spun within, creating acrobatic poses as he kept the wheel’s momentum.
The rest of their act showcased the acrobatic skills they had learned to do together. Their finale was admittedly not my favourite part of the show, though it was an impressive combination of three different circus acts. I really loved their solo performances the most.
Dan & Kim were by far the best street act I saw this year. I hope to see them again next year.
And with any luck, I’ll have the same great seats.