It’s often remarked upon that choosing to pursue a career in stand-up comedy is “brave”. Whether or not that’s true, I’d venture that it’s braver attempting to skewer a corporate monolith instrumental in getting you paid to do stand-up comedy. It’s a tall order and the ambition of this undertaking doesn’t go unremarked upon in On Fringe, in fact it comes almost in the form of a disclaimer.
Unfortunately for many, reconciling the exchanges and concessions made by working Artists under late capitalism is deeply uncomfortable and warrants discussion, On Fringe acknowledges this. Given the lightness of touch required to pull this off, On Fringe evades the consequences of what could seem like biting the hand that feeds you, and tries to lead you to your own conclusions about the causes by zeroing in on the effects.
The backbone of the show is the through-line of manufactured emotional vulnerability that, as is not unusual when the artist is also the subject, is likely truthful at the core but has been distorted into a kind of funhouse mirror version of itself where the silliness and absurdity is turned up for palatability’s sake.
On Fringe puts a finer point on this later in the show when the thesis is stated outright, however the truth of the theory was being revealed from the outset; the feeling of despair and disillusionment at the state of things is not so much an undercurrent as it is a tidal wave.
Though the show is disjointed in parts, the erratic tone is ultimately endearing and is one that suits the material well. On Fringe is a show for those dubious of the powers that be. It’s also for those who enjoy a bit of mic-peaking mania.