If you are a regular follower of this blog, you are well aware of my absolute fan-girl obsession with a little festival called the Big Comedy Go-To in London (ON). I had attended the first two festivals, which brings together some of the best stuff on the Fringe Circuit with some hilarious local acts (and from a town that brought you Paul Hutcheson, how could the locals NOT be funny?), mixes them all together into one giant cocktail of awesomeness that gets delightfully shotgunned down your throat by
master bartender mastermind Jayson MacDonald.
Now in its third year of existence, I was tired of being a simple looky-loo and desperately wanted to participate. Safe in the knowledge that I would (finally) be performing my one-woman show at the Ottawa Fringe, I figured if I could get something ready for this April festival, by June I would be laughing.
April was probably the most stressful month of my life.
Swamped with various work projects, I toyed with the idea of quitting EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I have to send out a huge thank you to Chris, Linda, Emily, Tim, Margo and everyone else who listened to me rant and offered constructive criticism when all I really wanted to do was go hide in my room and throw my laptop out the window. Somehow, through what can only be magic and the bending of the space-time continuum, it all came together.
I arrived in London late Friday night after spending the day doing re-shoots for a student film I worked on in Hamilton. Though the timing of the re-shoot was not the best, the offer to buy me a train ticket to London (and the total wonderfulness of the director) convinced me to do it.
Before I had even walked into the pub where that nights events were taking place, I got dragged into participating in an Improv Cage Match. Thinking this would be a great opportunity to “use the chair,” I agreed to play. About a dozen improvisers get mixed up and put into teams of two or three with people they have never worked with before. The audience then decides who brings the most funny and the winners move on.
My team got eliminated in the first round. This stupid contest was obviously fixed.
I found out that my tech time was scheduled for 11 am the next morning. That said, my billet’s house often dubs as after-party central, which means getting more work done or, you know, sleeping was out of the question. Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em in the hot tub, is what my mother always used to say…
With less than two hours of sleep, I was up and at ‘em, rewriting scenes over breakfast while burning my sound cues before the venue opened. Tech went well, as did the rehearsal photoshoot for the festival. I followed that up with a lunch outside with festival organizer Jayson MacDonald before participating in a panel discussion on comedy. These discussions where always my favorite part of past festivals so I was thrilled to be invited into this one.
That done, I quickly grabbed a tea (coffee jitters be damned!), printed out a fresh copy of the script for my technician and myself (I had decided that this would be a staged reading after all), and got ready for my show. As I put on my roller derby gear, I tried not to let my nerves get the best of me.
And you know what? It was awesome!
It was a very friendly audience that laughed and was with me throughout the whole show. After, I got some great feedback from people I respect and realized that, yes, I do have a show in there. I could finally breathe. A little.
After a quick bite, I came back to watch some of my favourite Montrealers, Uncalled For, in their new improv show, Trial by Jury. It was brilliant. These guys are amazing. And I now have a bit of a girl crush on the lone female member in the troupe.
But my night wasn’t over yet. We still had the “Big One” stand-up comedy night to get to. And yes, I was participating in that one too.
After I was done, I felt the adrenaline leave my body. I was falling asleep in my chair, but toughed it out until the end of the event. I passed on the post-show festivities and took a cab to my billet’s, secure in the knowledge that he was out of town and I would therefore be able to avoid any after-party at the house.
After what was probably the best night of sleep I’d had in months, I woke up feeling happy and creatively refreshed. I had great Easter breakfast with a bunch of the festival performers before heading back to Ottawa.
Thank you London, thank you to my billet Jeff, thank you to the Big Comedy Go-To and Jayson MacDonald! But most of all, thank you to Peter Janes for believing in me and this show before there was even anything to believe in. I would not have been able to do it without your support.
Ottawa Fringe won’t know what hit it.