For two weeks in August, the New York International Fringe Festival takes over downtown, giving those ubiquitous NYU kids a run for their money. Everywhere you look there are artists running, waiting, flirting, pontificating, performing. (Hey, they’ve gotta do something with their liberal arts degrees.) This year marks the festival’s 10th anniversary, so in addition to the usual crop of new shows with outrageous/unwieldy titles (e.g. The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos), selected Fringe alumni are bringing back their past successes. Don’t expect Urinetown! But you can take a gander at The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (partially burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labeled: “Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I’ll Sue! I’LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!” by the Neo-Futurists, the troupe that spawned Urinetown! co-creator Greg Kotis. With a couple hundred events to choose from, the Fringe is, above all else, overwhelming. Below is my totally biased, way too short, unauthorized endorsement of the shows you don’t want to miss.
Band Geeks The name alone is almost guaranteed to sell out the run. And once people hear that it’s set in the 80s, well, let the scalping begin.
Billy the Mime Yeah I know, most mimes suck. But Billy’s act ain’t family friendly, unless you want to expose your tots to acts like “The Abortion” and “Terry Schiavo-Adieu.”
The Fartiste The sad thing is, long before I ever heard of this musical comedy based on a real-life French farting virtuoso, I’d heard about this dude. I should have never done that semester abroad.
Girl Scouts of America Co-written by Andrea Berloff (who just penned the movie World Trade Center), this wholesomely titled comedy is down and dirty fun as lovely young ladies navigate their way through adolescence.
Only a Lad A new musical based on the songs of Danny Elfman. If you’ve ever seen the flick Forbidden Zone, you know how cool this show could be.
PuppetGovernment My regular readers know that I’m a sucker for puppets, particularly ones who behave badly. This political comedy imagines the current administration as embodied by various household appliances. I’m sure they’re much sharper than the real thing.
Reservoir Bitches This all-female parody of Quentin Tarantino’s breakthrough flick was a big hit in Canada. And if there’s one thing those maple leaf-loving bastards know, it’s comedy.