NO, YOU'RE FLAME RETARDANT! by Noam Rosen, directed by Rob Nickerson, with Rosen, Mary Crosbie, Greg MacDonald and Paul Irving. Presented by Reamworks at Clinton's (693 Bloor West). July 5, 12 and 14 at 10 pm, July 6 and 13 at 8 pm.
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARY written and performed by Mary Crosbie, directed by Jeanie Calleja. Presented by Bitchcraft Productions at Clinton's (693 Bloor West). July 5 and 14 at 8 pm, July 6 and 13 at 10 pm.Noam Rosen pronounces the word carefully -- "Scrrripppttt" -- as if it were foreign, or as if he were a kid trying out a grown-up sound.
"I've done lots of comedy shows, written sketches and made videos," says the member of will-they-ever-reunite sketch troupe Loogie and part organizer of Pirate Video Cabaret.
"But this is the first time I've written things down like this. My last show was in point form on sticky notes."
Welcome to the increasingly large world of comedy-trained performers trying out theatre at the Fringe. Rosen is modest. His last show, Noam Chomsky Is An Asshole, was a big success, even with the sticky notes, and earned him a Canadian Comedy Award.
"But that was just me fucking around doing a show with a loose plot," he says. "This time it's an actual play. With characters and everything."
Rosen, Mary Crosbie and I are sitting in a Queen West restaurant. Crosbie, the most fearless and consistently watchable performer in the edgy all-women sketch troupe the GTOs, is also premiering a play at the Fringe, called Welcome To My Nightmary.
The two are a couple. She makes a guest appearance in his show, No, You're Flame Retardant! Their shows are on back to back at Clinton's Tavern.
They're both a little nervous. But comics thrive on pressure.
"Usually when I perform, I scrawl notes in a book and have a vague idea about something," says Crosbie. "You know, Granny goes gambling. A premise. But this has been rewarding. Starting off with a chunk of an idea and pushing it through and seeing how far you can go with it."
Crosbie's show is about a recovering alcoholic who gets psychic messages from her evil twin brother. Rosen's piece, larger in scale, looks at a man who finds himself, a la Quantum Leap, in uncomfortable situations.
"Such as, I'm a male executive at WTN," he says. "Or a paralyzed former vaudevillian. Or a naturopath with a patient who's dying of cancer."
Both agree that the comedy they enjoy comes from a place that's uncomfortable. They also agree that the big difference between comedy and theatre is that in comedy you need to get a laugh or you've failed.
"Maybe they'll laugh only every minute as opposed to every 15 seconds," says Rosen. "And that will be OK."
This might be one of the last chances to see the two perform here, since they're thinking of making the move south. Saturday Night Live has expressed interest in Crosbie -- they said her audition tape was the best they'd ever seen -- and the two realize that there's no comedy industry in Canada.
"There's a small cottage industry of basket-weaving-type comedy that has no critical evaluation and is based more on CRTC regulations and tax grants," says Rosen. "At least in New York there's an industry. You can get work. You don't have to wait for someone to die to get a writing gig.
"Every comedian who succeeds says you have to go to succeed," he continues. "And we all think, Oh, no, we'll just be so good that they can't help but recognize our talent.'
"But eventually you start listening. We're like migrant workers -- there's a comedy crop in the United States, and we're leaving Canada to work the fields."
"Maybe we'll sneak down in a trunk with a tarp over us," says Crosbie, "with a sign -- Will joke for food.'"