I’ve never been to a wake, but I can safely say hosting one in a bar, a most Irish affectation, I am told, may come with a certain set of unfortunate but hilarious outcomes. It’s an old cliché that death rituals are about the living—a show of elegy, narcissus eulogies. Sermo Scomber Theatre’s In Memoriam is no different. It hinges on the ridiculousness of the fact and basks in it’s messy, lively tastelessness.

A shuffling cast of fluid, multi-talented women (and one gent, too), all of Cheddar Fandango’s eulogizers take turns refilling their swizzle-stick drinks, throwing back shots at the bar and telling all of us what cheddar meant to them. As you might assume, things turn to retribution and over-sharing as everyone gets more and more liquored up. Shouts across the room are exchanged, expediently. And in turn, we get a realer, more hilarious portrait of Cheddar, as well as of the people who populated her life.

cheddar fandango fringe 2

Whether it’s her three singing sisters—the kind one, the estranged one, the white and not-so-nice one—her best friend, who met her when she walked in on her screwing her husband in Berlin, the pal who wants his cashmere back, the friend who aims to, corset and all, make it yet another performance, and the random dame/crasher who no one seems to know, and who’s full of checkout aisle slam poems, everyone at Cheddar’s bar-side wake takes part in making it what Cheddar’s life seems to have been at its best: a performance.

Complete with reaper/dead-Cheddar tap-dance interludes, original songs and a crowd pleasing rendition of “Amazing Grace,” In Memoriam doesn’t disappoint, even if it’s got one too many Tom Waits songs in the background. Wakes are kinda tacky, so it’s alright; indulgences have their time and place.

See it at the Wiggle Room tonight as part of the Montreal Fringe festival; pay your respects, if you’ve got any.

Australian story teller Jon Bennett returns to the Montreal Fringe with his new one-man show Story Whore. Looking at the titles of Bennett’s previous Fringe shows (Pretending Things are a Cock and Fire in The Meth Lab) is a quick way to prepare yourself for what you can expect this time ‘round. Some of its silly, some of its serious, thankfully all of it’s entertaining.

Bennett’s past shows have included stories of his ultra-religious father and meth dealing brother. Now that he’s run out of interesting stories to share of other people, what’s a story teller to do? Inspired by a Montreal (or likely whatever city you catch the show in) airport security guard who questions whether he knows what love is, Bennett guides the audience on an epic journey through the soaring highs and dramatic lows of his romantic relationships.

A quick look at Bennett’s website demonstrates that story telling is perhaps his life’s greatest passion. I missed his past Fringe shows, but it’s clear Bennett has worked hard at crafting an anecdote just right. Whether it’s deciding which exact moment to use voice inflections, or incorporating real and re-imagined items from his life, it’s all part of a goal to gain your sympathy and trust.

As an audience member you know you’re being manipulated. While the real names of people in the stories have been obviously changed, you can’t help but wonder how one would feel knowing Bennett was traveling around the world sharing personal details of your relationship. Or how much of these stories are exaggerated, or even true.

But Bennett is such a good performer you never cling to those feelings for long. It’s much more fun to just go along for the ride. Because seriously, when else in your life will you see a man in his thirties run around in a dress while recounting a sad childhood memory?

Story Whore plays until June 21st at Café Campus.

With their aim to promote a healthy body image for people of every gender, weight and sexual orientation, Glam Gam shows are always worth checking out. In Turning Tricks, this Montreal Burlesque troupe has taken it up a notch in their most ambitious and successful production to date.

In the show the “Gold Dust Women” are led by mistress Goldie Showers (aka the always amusing and fearless Julie Paquet). Throughout the evening this raunchy team of magical misfits will shock and titillate you in some pretty impressive ways that include glitter, throwing knives, chicken suits, gimps and sparkler pasties. Beyond the staple silliness of their shows, Glam Gam added some important messages as well. It was hard not to notice their comment on slut shaming and a woman’s right to choose. Every character in the show either asked or gave their consent for all that fun naughty stuff. Remember folks: consent is sexy!

While it was nice to see them add a message, this time around Glam Gam wisely cut back on story. Turning Tricks is the strongest of Glam Gam’s past three Fringe outings largely for focusing on the vaudevillian talents of the troupe. That being said, congrats have to be given to miss Phoenix Wood. This Glam Gam beauty usually shows up just in time to dance and strip, but in Turning Tricks she demonstrated she’s a talented actress as well. I would happily see her act again- whether or not she was taking her clothes off.

I was sad not to see more of Michael J. McCarthy in the show, as he’s always entertaining to watch onstage. There’s a reason he and Paquet dominated the “Best of Montreal” List this year in Cult Montreal; the two have a natural chemistry in whatever project they work on. Instead this time around McCarthy’s talent were found off-stage, where he did a great job co-directing the show with Hannah Morrow.

Beautiful naked guys and gals, big splashy dance numbers, Turning Tricks is a must-see Fringe 2014 show for many reasons. Perhaps most importantly because it’s the only Fringe show I’ve ever seen that uses it’s exposure in the festival to raise money for a good cause; during the show money was raised for STELLA, a sex-workers advocacy group. You still have plenty of time to catch all the fun; Turning Tricks plays until Saturday at the Montreal Fringe festival.