by Matthew A. Everett • July 7, 2008 • In honor of the first of the Fringe-For-Alls kicking off the live Fringe frenzy this evening, I thought I’d launch this year’s pre-Fringe Top 10 list. For the uninitiated, this is a completely subjective sampling of Fringe shows on my part. The returning favorites I’m still plunking down in the blog here are folks that were on this list in the previous five years I’ve been blogging. Every year, I clear out the top ten list to make way for ten more.
Single White Fringe Geek (and Mom) is the blog of Matthew A. Everett, one of five bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.
Every year, there’s more than ten worthy candidates lying in wait. To wrap my head around the 155-plus show schedule, I sometimes need to get ruthless. A person can’t see even half, much less all of the shows, even if they went to something in every single regular slot. With luck, maybe a third. So, I imagine…
If You Put A Gun To My Head… …or If I Could Only See Ten Fringe Shows, What Would They Be, And Why?
“Like life? Try several. See the relentless humiliations and inadvertent triumphs one soul endures when unimpeded by limits of time, space or logic. A two-man comedy that refuses to die.”
Now, this isn’t in the number 1 spot kicking off the list for the obvious reason (For the uninitiated, aka readers new to this blog of mine, the obvious reason would be that two naked guys are in the publicity photo)
I’ve seen Rampleseed (with their clothes on) perform at Improv-A-Go-Go (the Sunday night weekly improv showcase at the Brave New Workshop), and I saw them perform as part of the recent Twin Cities Improv Festival. These guys are pair of hilarious, twisted, nimble comedic minds at full throttle. Now like Ferrari McSpeedy (of Punk Rock Fringe trilogy fame) before them, Rampleseed is exploring the world of scripted comedy. Given that the script will develop from the same kind of wacked-out improv they’ve come to be known for in the short year they’ve been performing together, the results are sure to be most amusing.
The thing I admire most about the work of Tyler Samples and Tom Reed, who together, in name and figure, make up Rampleseed, is the pervasive undercurrent of melancholy that runs through their work. It’s funny as hell on the surface, but the emotional roots go deep. It’s thinking person’s comedy if you want to think, and it’s just plain comedy if you want to sit back and be entertained.
Previous title ideas for their show were along the lines of “Falling Out Of Love, with Rampleseed” or “Rampleseed, improv comedy while your parents are arguing about a divorce in the next room”
A little background from Tyler and Tom on the birth of Rampleseed and their upcoming Fringe offering…
Tyler – “Tom and I joined the Brave New Institute’s graduate show Six Ring Circus [another weekly long-form improv showcase, Tuesday nights at the Brave New Workshop] in August 2007, and really hit it off.”
Tom – “We happened to be on a team together and kept noticing that we did good scenes together and had a lot of fun.”
Tyler – “I’d been wanting to perform at Improv-A-Go-Go for a while, but I was too shy to try to get together a full group. So I just asked Tom if he’d want to do some shows with me, and it worked. A friend of ours recently described us as, “Bowling pins from different sets that look totally different, but you can still get a strike with them.” It’s an odd metaphor, but I think the underlying sentiment is pretty accurate. We’re quite different in how we tackle improvisation, but we seem to complement each other well. So I think what we’ve been developing is an understanding of what exactly we’re promising the audience when we go onstage, and how best to deliver on that promise. [Getting picked for the Twin Cities Improv Festival] for us feels like recognition for that work, sort of like an acknowledgment that we’ve succeeded in creating something unique and worthwhile in the Twin Cities improv scene. We’re very excited.”
Tyler – “Tom was actually the one who made the push for us to do a Fringe show.”
Tom – “Fringe was a total whim thing, we thought, well, let’s throw our hats in the ring and if we get drawn we’ll figure out what we’re doing later.”
Tyler – “I volunteered [for the Fringe] last year and really loved it, but I hadn’t given much thought to trying to do it myself. But Tom really wanted the chance to work on our skills as writers and actors, and I was willing to go along for the ride. Now that we’re further along in the process I think Tom was absolutely right, because much as I love the disposableness of improv, it’s very satisfying (and frightening) to craft something ahead of time and actually try to form a thesis of sorts as to who we are as performers. That’s definitely much harder to do when you’re making everything up on the spot.
I think also there’s a sort of feeling that the Fringe helps legitimize you to a wider audience. And it’s always nice to feel legitimate and noticed. Scripting work is definitely something I have less experience with. I did sketch shows in college, but it didn’t require the level of focus or attention that our Fringe show has. I’ve always dreamt of myself as a writer, but in truth I get exhausted with it before I can achieve any results. So it’s nice to be in a sink or swim situation where I literally have no choice but to write.
Tom is really involved with the local slam poetry/ spoken word scene, so I suspect that he’s more comfortable going from ideas to typed words, but I think the overall idea of constructing an hour-long scripted show is a new beast for him as well. This is also the first time we’ve written with each other, so it’s like another new beast in addition to our two beasts. A new Cerberus, if you will.”
Tom – “We haven’t ever written a show, so we hope that the audiences enjoy us. We of course also hope to touch lives, become rich and famous, and have world peace result from our show, but we realize those things are long shots. We’ll settle for people laughing a lot.”
Blogger – I think laughing a lot is probably guaranteed with these two.
They’re first up, first day, Thursday, July 31st at 5:30pm. I can’t think of a better way to start off your 2008 Fringe than Rampleseed. I very highly recommend them.
If you don’t go opening night, be sure to catch them opening weekend of the Fringe. For some reason, their first four performances are all front-loaded in the opening weekend – Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So, not much time for word of mouth to spread before you’re out of time to see them, except their final performance on closing day of the Fringe, Sunday, 8/10. So don’t put it off. Trust me, you don’t want to miss these guys in action.
330 21st Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55455
Thursday, July 31, 5:30pm
Friday, August 1, 8:30pm
Saturday, August 2, 10pm
Sunday, August 3, 1pm
Sunday, August 10, 1pm
Entering his sixth year of blogging about the Minnesota Fringe Festival (and bringing Mom along for the ride as a guest reviewer), Matthew A. Everett is also a local playwright and three-time recipient of grant support from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Information on Matthew and his plays can be found at matthewaeverett.com.