Easy winners

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by Kate Hoff • July 28, 2008 • For a while there I thought this year’s Fringe was made up of a whole crop of shows and people I don’t know. Upon closer examination, however, I see just how wrong I was. Here’s my list of shows by people whose work I know well enough to recommend them, sight unseen. It sort of reads like a “who’s who” of Minneapolis storytellers (and one from California). Most of them are Facebook friends of mine, which means we’re super tight. Totally BFF.

Full Frontal Fringe is the blog of Kate Hoff, one of five bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

Newsflash! And I’m not making this up…we’ve had a last-minute cancellation. And I’m Not Making This Up is out, leaving a hole in the U of M Rarig Arena schedule. Fear not! Who better to fill said hole than Charlie Bethel! As our luck would have it, Charlie, former Minneapolitan, current Brooklynite, is in town for a visit…poised to come to the rescue. Beowulf or Gilgamesh: You Decide! presented by Chopping Block will apparently rely on the audience to choose which lightening-fast performance (Charlie is an incredible force of super-human memorization) they prefer.

The audience picks between Beowulf (a peckish demon snacks on the Danish) and Gilgamesh (a god-king takes on the underworld). Mesmerizing stories told with the energy, drama, and comedic flair which have made Bethel a perennial Fringe favorite.

I say, both! Both! In one hour! Charlie could probably do it, but his head might explode. And, seriously, I’m not making this up.

All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage presented by Maximum Verbosity at Minneapolis Theatre Garage. Fellow blogger Phillip Low is an incredible wordsmith and stage talent, and he has assembled a group of even more awesomeness (including a couple Fringe pros) to help him out with this one. They’ve just wrapped up the Kansas City Fringe, so will have worked out any kinks by the time they open Thursday at 10…I don’t really like political rants, but I love social commentary. This will be sharp – think sketch comedy.

The Attack of the Big Angry Booty, presented by Traveling Kurkendaal Productions at Interact Center. It wouldn’t be Fringe without Les Kurkendaal, who makes the pilgrimage every year from Los Angeles. Petite (even more so after the weight loss depicted in this year’s show), black and queer, Les is a good storyteller who appeals to the gays and so much more.

Roofies in the Mochaccino presented by Empty S Productions at Interact. Michael Shaeffer is a seasoned slam poet with an active imagination and a way with words. I bet there’s something for everyone here – your mother will like some of the pieces. You’ll be disturbed if she likes all of them.

Strawberry Fields Temporarily, presented by Leaky Pen, Inc., at Interact. Ben Sandell is a talented comedian and former Fringe blogger (he doesn’t like to BOTH have a show and write a blog in the same year. Last year the lottery frowned upon Ben…so he blogged!). His 2006 Mittens for Fat Kids was very funny – a sweet show. I predict more of that; Ben has wide appeal (but in a good way, not in a “non-edgy and boring” way).

Boys Don’t Make Passes at Girls Who Wear Glasses presented by True Enough Theater at U of M Rarig Arena. Okay, I confess I’m not actually FaceBook friends with either Laura Bidgood or Curt Lund, but that’s because I have principles and only friend people I’ve actually met (with some exceptions, Andrew Danger). Even though we’ve never exchanged actual words, I’ve seen both of them perform quite a few times. My husband Bob says Laura reminds him of Kathy Griffin on donuts. (My thoughts: They’re both redheads…) This dynamic duo has had very successful, very funny Fringe shows the past two years – and I think 2008 will be no different. Check them out.

I’ll Marry You for Health Insurance and other shocking revelations presented by Mumble Mumble, Ink Productions at U of M Rarig Xperimental. Don’t miss this poetry slam grandmaster in longer format…Allison Broeren is a force. And funny. And my most recent FaceBook friend, after I legitimately stalked her following a real-live, face-to-face conversation.

Tipping the Bucket presented by Allegra J. Lingo, performer and Fringe staffer extraordinaire. Allegra can turn any event into a story, and sees messages and connections a normal person might miss. A satisfying storyteller. One might call her a rockstar.

…because Allegra is co-founder (with phillip andrew bennett low) of the Rockstar Storytellers, presenting School of Rockstars, a rotating lineup of many of the solo performers described in this blog entry, plus other past Fringe performers. Can’t lose with this one – in fact, there’s a new topic with each performance, so see them all! No, they’re not “real” rockstars, silly…real rockstars don’t use music stands. Duh.

Kate Hoff is a fundraiser, printmaker, and alternative-theater denizen. Her prints were included in the Visible Fringe show in 2004—also the year she began blogging about the festival. A few years, countless blog entries, and a hundred-some Fringe shows later, Kate joined the Fringe board in early 2008. The views expressed here are hers alone and do not represent the official position of the Fringe (unless noted).