By: Jul. 06, 2024
Toronto Fringe Festival Review: TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL: DAY 2
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Comedian and actress Iris Bahr, known for her roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Hacks, delivers a captivating, heartfelt, and funny show about what happens when your life changes in an instant. Through clearly developed characterizations and a well-shaped narrative, Bahr tells the story of having to move across the globe during the pandemic when her anxious and overbearing mother experiences an emergency on the other end of a WhatsApp video call. Speaking in a rapid-fire, unfolding monologue, she mines a stressful, relatable situation for a surprising amount of laughter; her story will likely resonate with anyone who’s ever been frustrated with a health care system, had a complicated relationship with a parent, or found it difficult to properly practice self-care when there are things to do.

The delights of Bahr’s richly drawn characters run from her mother’s nervous, pinched neighbour who values propriety over care, to the doctor who inappropriately flirts via YouTube videos, to the clueless PSW who gets lost going across the street. While the ending feels a little abrupt because the story is still ongoing, making this one of few Fringe shows I wished were 60 instead of 55 minutes, it’s a festival highlight. Highly recommended. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll call your mother after.

Photo of Iris Bahr by Gail Hadani



Fear not, AI-haters: ChatGPT hasn’t actually come to replace your favourite Fringe artists. Comedy song writer Danelis’ premise is that he’s tired of having to compose his own material, so he asks ChatGPT (a glowing orb that responds to him with a HAL-type computerized voice) to write him a Fringe show. While Danelis eventually shows some of the results (they are…not great, hilarious but thankfully not the whole show), most of it centres around him “stalling” and feeding ChatGPT information about himself through songs while the AI system supposedly cooks up a genius play.

Danelis mines his Greek heritage, bisexuality, and anxiety for laughs, with twist-filled songs about disappointing his parents, wondering if his date is going to murder him, and setting up his grandfather on Grindr—he’s only there to find him friends, honest. He’s energetic and personable, keeping the audience engaged and laughing through sustained tech issues that would have stymied a lesser performer (the show was Danielis’ preview, which he generously allowed me to review). He also takes some strong jabs at how AI attempts to appeal to the blandest, most crowd-pleasing generic result, at odds with theatre that lets the performer’s personality and culture shine through. While his tunes aren’t the most varied and some songs' content fit better into the overall structure than others, his witty lyrics and bold audience interaction are more than enough to keep the hour feeling breezy and joyful. Alexa who? I don't know her.

Photo of Anesti Danelis by Dahlia Katz


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