Entertainment and Sports

What's So Funny About The Fringe?

A love of comedy and laughter is universal, but what touches one's funny bone is as distinctively unique as a fingerprint.

By Kevin Somers
Published July 23, 2015

Many years ago, thinking it was one of the gifts brought unto baby Jesus, I asked my dad, "What's mirth?"

"Being funny, laughing..."

"Perfect," I thought, "it's the ideal gift for a king prescribed to a rough ride."

I got the Bible story wrong, of course, but was dead right about mirth. Laughter is medicinal. When you laugh, you breathe deeper and work muscles, as the brain releases warming chemicals, as if you're exercising or petting a kindly dog. Because it requires a specific connection, humour brings people together. Attempting to make others laugh is a noble endeavour, and perfect execution is divine.

The first four Fringe shows I reviewed for Raise The Hammer were comedies, as were the three pending, which hadn't been planned. Naturally, this ignited a spiral of reflection.

I think I don't want to be sad, scared, shamed, shocked, or squeamish in the theatre anymore - it happens enough outside of it. I want to laugh and feel better, so gravitate to comedy.

My teenage daughters introduced me to Vine, which hosts funny videos that are six seconds and loop endlessly. Six seconds. It's free. Competition for eyes, ears, bums, common comedic sensibilities, time, and money, therefore, is so fierce it's not funny. It takes a comically brave soul, an abject fool, or a real clown to step into the burning ring of laughter and take on all comers.

Fortunately for us fans of the laugh, this year's Fringe flows with funny: absurdists, buffoons, clowns, fools, jesters, jokers, magicians, musicians, singers, sketchers, Shakespeare, and The Princess of Porn grace stages. The span of styles and breadth of selection means there's something funny for everyone.

Raise The Hammer has more in-depth reviews and analysis of the following three comedic performances, so these are brief.

Jesters Incognito is a one-man, many-character, multi-media extravaganza about incognito jesters. Harrison Wheeler, the brains and force behind Jesters, plays all the hilariously decked out characters as his own life's trajectory is entertainingly told on a big screen during costume changes. As good jesters do, Wheeler holds nothing back in this comedic hurricane.

Panacea is young, energetic sketch comedy troupe making laughter from anything and everything they get their hands on and minds around. The show goes bang, bang, bang. For a full hour, the four performers let you have it with rapid-fire, relentless humour.

The Princess of Porn is a Disneyesque musical, which is absurd. The well talented, entirely committed performers play the absurdity perfectly straight, which adds fun to the fun. Naturally, after a lot of friction and anxiety, there's a happy ending.

A love of comedy and laughter is universal, but what touches one's funny bone is as distinctively unique as a fingerprint. While taking in the shows, there were instances when one of my guffaws exploded unexpectedly in a room dead quiet. At other times, I looked around at those doubled over by delight and wondered, "What are you laughing at?"

Regardless, it's nice being in the company of good humour and The Fringe lineup provides plenty of opportunity to go laughing with friends and family. See for yourself what's so funny about The Fringe.

You can read all the RTH reviews of Fringe 2015 performances.

Kevin Somers is a Hamilton writer.


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