Fringe review: Wha’ Ha’ Happened Was…


WHA’ HA’ HAPPENED WAS… by the company (Habib Siam and Jean Paul/Fringe). At Sarah’s Cafe (1426 Danforth), July 5, 7-12 and 14 at 6:30 pm, July 6 and 13 at 7 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN

At the furthest eastern reaches of this year’s Fringe, two stand-ups and friends are doing “loose 40s” in a cozy (but well air-conditioned) back room of a Danforth cafe.

As they explain in their respective sets, Habib Siam and Jean Paul have very different backgrounds: Siam, a bachelor, didn’t start comedy until completing his PhD a few years ago, while Paul, a family man, has been an actor, writer and travelling entertainer for over two decades. What they do have in common: both are childhood immigrants (Siam from Palestine, Paul from Trinidad) who’ve fostered a love for stand-up in Canada. The show is, as Siam explains, “us trying to process what’s happened to us” as they work through middle (or late) life crises. (Paul, whose set was second, arrived late to the show because he was getting a new tattoo, which he did explain.)

Both men are working on new material during their Fringe run, Siam more obviously as he kept referring to his notebook. The difference in experience between the two also became evident as Paul, more confident on stage, relaxed into his more polished bits. Perhaps a bit too relaxed when he finished a few minutes early, he chose to add a (very entertaining) story about visiting the Wailing Wall that pushed the show past the running time. As some patrons are scheduled tightly during the festival and some of us are obliged to stay to the end please opt to run short rather than long, Fringe artists.




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