by Terrance McArthur, Lorie Lewis Ham,
& Mallory Moad
The Rogue Festival is here! Here are more of our Rogue Festival show reviews! There will be many more to come! We also have several Rogue Performer Preview articles that have been going up over the last few weeks. You will be able to find all of them, along with a preview article about the Festival itself, in our Rogue Festival category and you can find more info on our Rogue Festival event page over on KRL News and Reviews. Tickets for the Rogue Festival can be purchased on their website and you can find this year’s schedule.
The Jester of All Maladies
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
My first ever Rogue Festival show was ten years ago and it was a one-man show by Kurt Fitzpatrick. His show was so amazing that I was hooked from that moment on and haven’t missed a Rogue Festival since. I also haven’t missed a single one of Kurt’s shows and they continue to be amazing!In The Jester of All Maladies Kurt tells the story of his cancer journey from diagnosis to remission (he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma). You would think a show about cancer would be depressing, but this one is not. Kurt can make you laugh even when telling such a serious story. He may be one of the funniest performers I have ever seen. But there is also a lot of heart in this show so be prepared for a few tears as well—tears of joy and hope, and maybe a few tears from laughing so hard. I think one reason his shows are so amazing is because he allows himself to be so open and vulnerable.
Here is a quote from the Rogue Performer preview article that Kurt wrote for KRL this year-
“I understand that cancer may not seem like a prime subject for a comedy show, but I found that I needed to laugh to get through it. So, I figured there must be laughs to be had in telling the story, and there are.”
Kurt peppers the story with references to old TV shows, music, and movies. He also talks about Facebook love, Fig Newtons, and funny bargains he made with his doctor. And he includes funny, sweet, and moving photos a friend took that document his journey. Being an actor, you also get glimpses into his career and how his vision of his career changed as he went through this journey.
If you are only going to see a few shows this year, don’t miss The Jester of All Maladies which sadly only has one performance left today at 3:30! This show is hilarious and wonderful!
The Jester of All Maladies is at the Spectrum Art Gallery, 608 East Olive Ave
Final performance on Sunday, March 5 at 3:30 p.m.
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
Hope Lafferty first performed her show Inhibitionist (!) at the Rogue Festival in 2020, but like many performers had to cancel her second weekend due to the pandemic. KRL’s reviewer Rebecca Potts reviewed the show for us in 2020 and I’d like to share some of her words here because she said it perfectly-
“Inhibitionist(!) recounts Lafferty’s life from her unconventional birth to the havoc she has wreaked on herself since with educational nuggets about psychology peppered throughout. The show is uplifting, hysterical, and at times, heart-wrenching. There are many tales of broken teeth, black eyes, and how humans, particularly women, put things in our own way.
The show has the feel of a stand-up comedy routine, which puts everyone at ease while keeping them fully engaged. She makes the audience feel like her best friends by the end of the show and when it’s over, you’ll want to see more!”
I saw her show this time around and I concur with what Rebecca said in 2020. As not only a performer but also a psychotherapist, Hope is able to dive deep into her own story of self-discovery in a way that the rest of us might not be able to and then share it with the audience in a way that is very relatable and moving—but also funny.
You can learn more about Hope on her website.
Inhibitionist (!) is performed at Veni Vidi Vici
1116 North Fulton Street
Her remaining performances are
Sunday, March 5 at 5 p.m. and Saturday, March 11 at 8 p.m.
Fringe Factor Season 8
Review by Terrance McArthur
Fringe Factor is a gameshow-type show performed at the Fresno Rogue and other performance festivals, where two teams of three performers compete in several rounds of wacky contests for points that are capriciously doled out by Grant Knutson, manic ringmaster of this short-circuited circus.
Often, the teams pitted local performers against out-of-towners. This year, however, the clashing teams are Rogue performers (local and non-local) competing with local merchants/vendors (On Saturday night it was against some cast members of an upcoming performance of Rocky Horror). Some of the games used for the competition have been used for many years, while some are new. For instance, the drawing round can be a Pictionary-type challenge, or it can be replicating a picture or photo, with the artwork being done with markers on the torso of a contestant or a volunteer from the audience. Another round used this year was making up the most outrageous rumor related to the festival. Have you ever tried to The final Lightning Round can be a College Bowl/Jeopardy hybrid, or a task like naming all the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe) films in order of release. On top of the ridiculous games, point enhancements can be earned by consuming strange foods (Pixie Stix, anyone?) or alcohol, or be bestowed on the host’s whim. The genial Ryan Adams Wells provides energetic songs on guitar during team deliberations and as timekeeping music for competition rounds.
It’s strange, it’s silly, and it’s a whole lot of fun.
The last Fringe Factor for the 2023 Rogue takes place Sunday, March 5, at 6:30 pm, at the LAByrinth Arts Collective, 1470 N. Van Ness Ave., in Fresno.
A Steel Drum, a Melodica and a Graphic Novel Walk Into a Bar
Review by Mallory Moad
Local musician Jeffrey Bowman has a knack for storytelling and this talent is on full display in A Steel Drum, a Melodica and a Graphic Novel Walk Into a Bar. With the addition of a trio of hot musicians and a narrator who shines with charisma, the result is an absolute gem of a performance.
Jeff has written a series of graphic novels that center on the adventures of a worldly wise 12-year-old girl by the name of Esperanza Wong. This production is sort of a condensed version that pairs the reading of passages with live music. It’s a successful combination in which songs serve as illustrations of the narrative.
Amber Olmo provides the voice of Esperanza with a streetwise charm, giving the character a toughness with an underlying innocence. With her sly smiles, occasional worried eyes and sweet singing voice, she’s believable and lovable. Her powerful rant against an offensive teacher is a show-stopper.
Jeff Bowman plays Dimitri, Esperanza’s unlikely sidekick, as a cynical older man with a wicked sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. He and Amber have a chemistry that is delightful and genuine.
Jeff’s words are supported by a trio of talented musicians – Ben Betita on guitar and tres cubano, Robin Seaberg on fretless bass and Raymond Gonzalez on congas and percussion – whose playing is tight, energetic, and fiery. Jeff frequently adds his own steel drum and melodica to the mix (the source of the show’s title) as well as vocals. The majority of the featured songs are original compositions by Jeff, although Lead Belly and Neil Young also make an appearance. Jeff’s singing voice, while not what some people (particularly fans of certain TV competitions) might consider “great,” is definitely good. Reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Dr. John, his sound is sincere and his presentation is amiable. In short, it’s the real deal.
At its heart, A Steel Drum, a Melodica and a Graphic Novel Walk Into a Bar is about hope and friendship. Whether it’s the relationship between Esperanza and Dimitri in Jeffrey Bowman’s stories or the obvious camaraderie and respect of the performers, the message is delivered loud and clear with humor, affection, and a funky beat.
Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen
1279 North Wishon Ave
Sunday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 9 at 7 p.m.
Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m.
Check other local arts & entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.