The Final Festival

I just arrived in Alberta for the Edmonton International Fringe Festival!

Edmonton is the oldest and largest fringe theatre festival in North America and I’m thrilled to be one of the 230 amazing shows being performed here this year.

Two years ago I started working on the skeleton of this show. It started as a small idea in the margin of a notebook, then turned into a single monologue, and later morphed into a full-blown show. If it wasn’t for my lovely wife Stephanie and brilliant collaborator, Frank Fogg, this show wouldn’t be what it is today.

 My venue in Edmonton, the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre.

My venue in Edmonton, the Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre.

The summer tour has been full of ups and downs this year. For the first 12 performances I changed the show every night. I was tweaking the script and removing other pieces entirely. It just didn’t feel right - but that’s why you do fringe.

In the midst of it all, I’ve still been traveling back and forth from the tour to Chicago for my weekly performances of MIND READER. (I won’t be doing that during Edmonton, though.) Sometimes I’ve been so exhausted from travel that I’d start doing my weekly show at fringe or vice versa. I’d realize it part way through and have to adjust accordingly!

But now, after three months of touring, rewriting, rehearsing, and preparing…I feel like it’s ready. It’s still not exactly where I want it to be - but I ran out of time. You can’t be a perfectionist about a show like this or it’ll never get onstage. Done is better than perfect.

For now, it’s a fireworks show with a hidden meaning. I lull the audience into a sense of complacency with rapid-fire demonstrations and only then do I sneak in the philosophical ideas that matter most to me.

The more festivals I do the more I realize that I’m less of a mentalist and more of a storyteller. I love telling stories, it just happens that mind reading is the vehicle with which I tell them.

I’ve written more about this on other posts, but my goal with the fringe tours was always to work on an edgier, riskier show. I wanted to take chances and push myself as an artist. And, I feel like that’s exactly what I’ve done.

Eleven fringes in two years has been a life-changing experience. I like stacking my show up against other shows - storytellers, musicals, plays, comedians, and more - and seeing how it compares. I’ve enjoyed listening to feedback (positive and negative) and learning how to get better quickly.

And, I’ve learned to ignore the critics and the naysayers who don’t get what I’m doing. Sometimes they’re other know-it-all artists who think they’ve found the only way to do art correctly. Sometimes it’s a journalist who doesn’t care for your genre. And sometimes it’s yourself.

The more you put yourself out there, the more negativity you invite. So I’ve learned to ignore it, keep working, and believe in what I’m doing.

This will be my last festival for awhile. There are a few other projects that I have lined up, so I probably won’t go on tour next summer. But there are seven chances to see me live in Edmonton before I stop doing this version of the show and start working on something new.

Stay tuned! The tour may be ending but I’m only getting started.