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2016 Fringe Reviews: Days 1 & 2

20160850As an artist at the Minnesota Fringe, I know a whole lot of people involved in the festival.  It makes it difficult for me to write reviews and because I don’t want to torpedo anyone’s shows, I don’t write reviews on the official Fringe web site.  Instead, I blog my thoughts here.  If you are an artist and you read my review of your show, here are a few things I want you to know.

First: You made a show happen.  I can’t hate you for that because I know how hard it is to make a show happen.  Even if I didn’t like your show, I like that you gave it a shot.  I like you for being creative and for being excited and for doing something with an idea besides thinking “wouldn’t it be great if…”

Second: Not liking a show is not the same as not liking a person.  I know that’s hard.  I struggle with it myself every time I read a bad review. I can have fifteen great reviews and one bad review will wreck me.  I’m sorry I didn’t like your show.  I really am. I want to like every show.  I still like you, though.  And I want you to try again.

Third:  If I didn’t like a show, I’m going to try to explain why because saying “I hated this show” is useless.  Saying “I think this would have made the show better” is helpful.  Artists may not agree with me and that’s cool.  But I know that they would rather hear someone say “I think this would have improved your show,” than “I just didn’t like it.”

Also, this year I am keeping a “Trump Count.”  This refers to the number of shows I watch that make a joke about Donald Trump.  I am not complaining about these jokes, mind you.  I feel that Donald Trump jokes are vital in a world that needs to make it clear that Donald Trump is a joke.

I’ve seen eight shows so far.  Trump count: 5

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How I’m going to Die Laughing

fcp_logo_bwThis weekend is the third annual Die Laughing marathon.  As always, it serves two purposes.  The first is to raise money for Fearless Comedy Productions.  We have a really exciting slate of shows lined up for this year and we need public support to help them happen.

But the bigger purpose is just to do something crazy.  Something Fearless.  We are going to fill a weekend with comedy.

A lot of people will be doing a lot of stuff.  And I’m no exception.  Here is a list of the things I’ll be involved in during the weekend*:

7:00 – 7:30 PM Friday – Fearless Opener

I’m the host for this opening segment and I’m going to pack a lot into 30 minutes.  My band, The Dregs, is going to sing the national anthem.  Or not.  Our goal is to help raise $500 in this first half hour so for every $50 raised, we will sing one less line of the national anthem.  Because we figure people don’t actually want to hear it.  If we can raise the full $500, we will re-write the anthem in honor of Die Laughing.

We will also be revealing our upcoming Fearless season.  We have five shows scheduled in 2016 and we are sponsoring three artists at the Minnesota Fringe Festival.  We’re going to tell you about all of those shows and members of our company are going to improvise scenes from each of them!

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Shit that Didn’t Piss me Off – 9/18

Apologies to regular fans of my Friday blog.  I’m going to do things a little differently today.

I’ve been writing Shit that Pissed me off most Fridays for the last three years.  I enjoy it as an exercise in writing humor and in exploring my opinions about what is happening in the world around me.  Since I’ve started writing the column, it has never coincided with my birthday.

Well this year, it has.

So I decided instead of spending my birthday thinking about stuff that annoys me, I’m going to write about things that make me happy.  I’ll post this week’s shit that pissed me off on Monday. Because even on my birthday, there are things that piss me off.

I begin my 48th year today and in honor of that, here are 48 things that make me happy.

1.  I’ve been married to the same amazing woman for the last 25 1/2 years.  She is brilliant, courageous, thoughtful, sexy, and supportive.  She laughs at some of my jokes.  She listens when I’m in a bad mood.  She corrects me when I’m wrong.  There is not a night that goes by where I am not happy we share a bed, a home, and a life.

2. I’ve got one fantastic mother.  She loves math and has spent her life finding ways to help others love it too. She loves being an amateur artist.  She is a fun travel companion.  Any day I know I’m going to see her is automatically a good day.

3. My oldest son is great.  He’s clever, cheerful, fun, and affectionate.  He grew several inches in the last year and is starting to show signs of facial hair.  Pretty soon, he’s going to learn how to drive and get a job and start looking at colleges.  I’m not sure I’m ready for any of that.

4. My youngest son is wonderfully creative.  The way he builds new Lego structures and describes ideas for new games or parks or dinosaurs shows boundless inventiveness.  His head must be such an interesting place to live.

5. My Brother is full of passion and energy.  He has been remarkably successful in not just the field he has chosen to pursue, but most anything he decides to accomplish.  We have a great relationship hampered only by the distance that separates us.

6. My Sister-in-law has a sharp sense of humor, an infectious positive attitude, and seems like a perfect partner for my brother.

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I Know What I’m Doing This Weekend

fcp_logo_bwFirst off, we made our pre-event goal for Die Laughing and that is amazing!  The board offered a $500 matching grant prior to the opening of Die Laughing and we have already raised $500.  That means we’ve actually raised $1000.  Which is amazing.

This blog entry is about my weekend schedule.  I’m not just the Artistic Director of Fearless Comedy Productions, I’m also a performer.  I’ll be performing a lot this weekend so here, in tiring detail, is what I’ll be doing.

Friday, March 6th

7:00 PM – We kick off the marathon with Fearless Lab.  I’m going to be judging a Vilification Tennis match featuring the last four winners of our amateur show – Nick Glover, Molly Glover, Eric Thompson and Duck Washington.  There will also be stand-up comedy, short form improv and a variety of other stuff.  We also kick off the marathon with a $250 matching grant so help us get started right!

Saturday, March 7th

Midnight – PowerPoint Karaoke.  I’m one of the presenters in my favorite improv game of all time.  Presenters are given a series of slides that make no sense and must make up a presentation based on the slides.  Also presenting will be Windy Bowlsby and Dawn Krosnowski.  It should be amazing.  Also, we have a $250 matching grant from CONvergence during that hour!

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Money Makes the World Go Round

fcp_logo_bwI hate asking people for money.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I know I’m not alone.  Asking for money is hard.

But one thing I’ve learned in the last several years is this: The best way to get people to give you money is to tell them you want it.  Nobody has unlimited funds but everyone is prepared to pay something for a thing they feel strongly about.

The Dregs are able to get five dollars per requested song because we have set the price and people want to pay it.  We make it clear that there is a price for our services.

So what I’m asking for today is your money.  Fearless Comedy needs your support this weekend and there are a lot of ways you can help us out.  As I wrote yesterday, we have a lot of plans for the funds we are raising.

First, if you are thinking about donating at least $50, consider a matching grant.  Pick an hour during the event and match donations up to a certain amount.  This has a great impact because it means people are more likely to contribute because their donation is effectively doubled.  The donation you were going to make anyway is also doubled.

Your donation can be anonymous or we can put your name on it.

If you would like to set up a matching grant, e-mail tim@fearlesscomedyproductions.com and I will help you set it up.

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Why do we want to Die Laughing?

fcp_logo_bwI’m spending most of this week working on Die Laughing for Fearless Comedy Productions and that means I’m writing about the event.  A lot.

So please forgive me if you’ve seen this information before.  It’s important so I’m making sure that it shows up in a lot of different places.

Today’s blog is going to discuss why we are doing a fundraiser in the first place.  It is really easy to ask people for money.  It is a lot more important to make sure they know why we are asking for money.

Our goal for this event is $10,069, which is a juvenile joke.  That’s our specialty!  It also is probably not enough.  We’d be much happier if we made closer to $15,000.  I’m going to try to explain why.

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Fringe Reviews – Days 10 & 11

Sole MatesI spent a lot of time at the Fringe this weekend and while reviewing shows makes no difference for anyone’s attendance at this point, I’m still going to write about what I saw.

I’ve developed a lot of friends at the Fringe over the years.  At first, I would try very hard to see all of their shows because that’s what friends do.  Over time, I’ve reached the point where watching every show by a friend could mean I’d never see anything by someone I don’t know.

So I reached the point where I realized that everyone I knew was in the same boat as me.  Making a choice to miss a friend’s show isn’t personal.  You are only going to see so many shows over the course of eleven days.

When you reach that conclusion, it takes a little bit of the pressure off.

So if you are a friend of mine and I missed your show this year, I’m sorry.  If you missed mine, that is OK too.  I’m sure we can all still be friends.

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