“We Do Every Show in the Fringe”: Well, at least five of them

“We Do Every Show in the Fringe”: Well, at least five of them

We Do Every Show in the Fringe is like a bonbon for experienced Fringegoers: a show starring some of the Twin Cities’ best improv comedians (on Saturday evening, Jason Ballweber introduced them as “the Twin Cities’ best improvisers” before deciding that was too bold a claim and revising it to “some of the best”) in a meta-Fringe show that features a cast riffing on the theme of one randomly chosen show from this year’s Fringe—in fact, staging that show based only on its title, description, and publicity photo.

It’s a fun idea, and each show begins with a quasi-randomly chosen audience member drawing a ping pong ball out of a cage to select the show to be re/created for that performance. On Saturday, the show chosen was Workshop, a “witty comedy” about “a young theater company” that “struggles to develop new material for their upcoming season.”

Somehow, in the hands of Ballweber, Ryan Lear, Nick Ryan, Lauren Anderson, Jill Bernard, and Tim Hellendrung, it turned into a show about a literal workshop—Geppetto’s workshop, where Pinocchio’s quest to become a real boy was envisioned by the theater-company-playing-a-theater-company as a multi-layered, amusingly confused metaphor.

As with any improv performance, Saturday’s show had its highlights (Anderson as Lear’s mother, forming a human tent to shelter at least part of her son’s body from the elements) as well as its lulls, but I certainly laughed a lot.

The self-conscious caveats about how white and cis everyone in the cast is, though played for laughs, still got awkward; and I was disappointed that “every show in the Fringe” actually translated to only one show per performance. If you’re a seasoned Fringer, though, who enjoys some good improv now and again, you could—as we say in Minnesota—do a heckuva lot worse than seeing Every Show in the Fringe.

Jay Gabler