SELF-ish’s run at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival is now officially over and we could not have asked for a better ending than winning a Public Market Pick of the Fringe Award! While we were the ones who got to go up on stage to receive the award, there are many other people who contributed to SELF-ish’s success and we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge them.
First, a big thank you to our fabulous SELF-ish team: Dawn Milman, our incredible director, whose vision, guidance and dramaturgical skills were instrumental in making SELF-ish what it is; Ashley Vucko, our intrepid stage manager, who kept the show running every night; Pearl Lam, our resourceful publicist whose social media savvy enabled this group of aging Gen-Xers to connect with a whole other generation of potential fans; Dan Jackson, long-time Assaulted Fish friend and photographer, who designed and photographed the striking image you see on the poster.
Thank you to our friends and family who helped spread the word about the play, in particular fellow Assaulted Fish member Marlene Dong who organized large posses from both her current and previous workplaces to come out and see the show. Also thank you to the other artists we met at the Fringe whose work inspired us and who also took the time to see our show.
Thank you to the fabulous Fringe Festival staff and volunteers who do everything necessary to keep a huge independent theatre festival running smoothly and affordably. The artists get all the glory but it is the staff and volunteers who do the majority of the heavy lifting, whether it is organizing and promoting the festival, liaising with the artists, running the box offices, running tech at the venues, or explaining patiently for the umpteenth time that yes, you do have to buy a membership on top of the tickets in order to see the shows. We who have Fringed salute you!
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who came to see SELF-ish, particularly those who took the time to tweet or Instagram about it afterwards. We love you all (as a group and individually). Without you, SELF-ish would have essentially been Diana shouting into an empty theatre. It has been a fantastic experience for us to be able to show you something a little different than what you have come to expect from Assaulted Fish in the past and we are so glad you came along for the ride!
Kuan and Diana
Holy smokes, the Fringe went by quickly and with a show to promote we didn’t get around to reviewing as many shows as we had hoped. Here’s a few last minute mini-reviews of some things that we saw that are worth checking out if they ever come back:
Poly Queer Love Ballad
This show really does not need us to hype it as it won the Volunteer Choice Award, the Georgia Straight Critics’ Pick Award and a Public Market Pick of the Fringe Award as well as being the previous recipient of the Fringe New Play Prize. But you know what? It really is that good. While the play has a definite agenda (as suggested by the title), the execution is so delightful, the performances so effortlessly charming, that you are simply swept along in the beauty of it. My personal favourite show that I saw this year. If you missed it at the Fringe, it will be playing at the Queer Arts Festival in March 2019 — KF
Ruby Rocket Returns
Portland improvisor Stacey Hallal is hilarious as soft-boiled detective Ruby Rocket in this fun noir parody. Hallal and the rest of the cast (a rotating group of some of the best improvisors in town) take some initial suggestions from the audience to create a different mystery each performance. Tying it all together is Ruby Rocket herself with her boozy Chandler-esque asides and flagrant disregard for gun safety. Hilarious and fun (if not always coherent). — KF
Angels & Aliens
Roommates Jeff Leard and Sydney Hayduk have slept together in fit of inebriation and are now dealing with the awkward aftermath, while passive-aggressively playing an online game involving, you guessed it, angels and aliens. Part social satire and part screwball rom-com, Angels & Aliens is held together by tight and witty performances from Leard and Hayduk who navigate the whiplash transitions between the game and real-life with impressive ease. — KF
Hip.Bang! presents Surveil
Hilarious and unsettling in the best possible way. To tell you too much about this show would be to give away its secrets but it will really make you think about how much of our privacy we have given away in the name of convenience. Those who do not like audience participation be forewarned, the cookies are a trap! — KF
Dear Pork Filled Productions (née Pork Filled Players) AKA “The PFPs”,
Happy 20th Birthday from your Canadian cousins!
Twenty years is long time to be doing anything – not to mention doing it well. For the past two decades, through the vehicle of comedy, the PFPs have been an industrious, energetic and inspirational megaphone for diversity, amplifying stories that need to be told and gleefully staking out a place for the marginalized. And they’re not even old enough to drink yet.
If we had to pick three words to describe the PFPs, they would be “Yummy”, “Funny” and “Generous.” The next three words would probably be “Important” followed by various sloppy, kissing sounds and then finally “Generous” again, because that’s important enough to mention twice. You simply cannot tell the story of the PFPs without talking about their generosity – the generosity of their spirit, the generosity of their talent, and the generosity of their mission.
We first encountered the PFPs at a sketch comedy competition held a long time ago in a faraway land (well, actually 2003 in Vancouver, Canada). We were a bunch of rookie upstarts in khaki pants with the ridiculous name, Assaulted Fish. They were the polished veterans. They sang! They danced! They ate fire! We were immediately struck by two things: number one, “Holy Cow, these Americans are really funny!” and number two, “Wow, they’re super nice people, too!” And also a third fleeting thought, “Who’s this Roger Tang guy who seems to be lurking around in the background all the time? He doesn’t ever seem to be doing anything…”
Ah, what fools we were.
It could have ended there but it didn’t (and this is where the generosity part really starts). Unbeknownst to us, the PFPs were keeping tabs on us; not in an obsessive, creepy way, but enough to know that we had lasted longer than the usual two-year mayfly existence of most sketch comedy troupes. And here’s the thing: they invited us down to Seattle to perform with them. Not once, not twice, but year after year after year. They shared their stage with us. They shared their audience with us. They even shared their living quarters with us, despite the fact that not all of us are regular bathers. But more than anything, they shared their mission with us. Watching the PFPs in action confirmed for us that it was possible to use comedy to tell powerful, inclusive, entertaining stories through our unique perspective as Asian North Americans. We all have stories to share, and they’re valid and worthy and most of all, ours to give voice to.
Over the years, it has been thrilling to watch the PFPs evolve from a sketch comedy troupe to a full-fledged theatre company. Similarly, it has been exciting to see the individual members change and grow in their artistry even if their paths eventually led them away from the main group.
Little did we know on that day so long ago, when we first saw them march across the stage dressed like Dim Sum, that this would lead to a personal and professional friendship that has so far lasted for 15 years. Congratulations PFPs, and thank you for the memories, the opportunities and the comradeship.
Here’s to 20 more years!
With love from
Diana, Marlene, Kuan & Nelson
AKA Assaulted Fish
Thank you again Powell Street Festival for another year of inviting us out to play. Incredible kudos must be given to Kristen Lambertson and her administrative team who managed to relocate almost the entire festival at very short notice. Also what would the festival be without all of the other fabulous staff and volunteers who do everything from building the venues to making the sure the recyclables are correctly separated. We cannot stress enough how much we love to be a part of one of the few festivals that truly reflects the community and the people who participate.
Big thanks again to Jamie Burns at the FireHall Arts Centre for his technical wizardry and his previously unknown baking skills; to our director Dawn Milman, who wrung amazing performances out of us and our indefatigable stage manager Ann Chow, always cool under pressure (she’s the woman in the corner quietly solving your Rubik’s Cube).
Finally of course, thank you to our fans, old and new. We were a bit nervous debuting all of those brand new sketches but your warm reception and ready laughter soon took care of that. Without you we would just be a bunch of strangely-dressed people emoting into an empty theatre.
See you next year!
What do you call a sold out show with a rocking audience and two other fantastic sketch groups to play with? A really, really, really good way to spend Friday night. How great it was to see Jackie “The Hardest Working Person in Sketch Comedy” Blackmore, Mike Unger and Darren Williams reunite as The Skinny. (Just a brief eight years ago we were all crammed together into the tiny stage at the Media Club, featuring a single wing created by the strategic placement of a movie screen. Clearly we are moving up in the world.) And how great to share the stage with Jackie’s new group Strapless Sketch Comedy, featuring our old friend Lauren Martin (previously of the Crawford Twins) and new friends Megan Phillips, Sidika Larbes, and Iva Kapsikova. And to cap it all off, Morgan Brayton, the Queen (or at least the Duchess) of Sketch Comedy was in the audience. I’m pretty sure we could hear her laughing even from backstage.
The Skinny – We’ve known them for 8 years and they can still actually fit into the same costumes (damn them).
Big, big thanks to Lola and Broden, the crack tech team at Studio 1398, who made our show run extra smoothly, our lovely and amazing host Brad McNeil, and to Peter Carlone and Alistair Cook and the rest of Sketchfest organizers and volunteers inviting us to play and for making this all possible.
Our show is done but Vancouver Sketchfest continues tonight! Hope to see you there!