26 September 2017

How to Fringe 2017: Neal Portenza

Joshua Ladgrove by day
Neal Portenza by night

SM: The Melbourne Fringe finishes on Sunday (most shows close on Saturday), so you still have time to see at least 15 more shows (three a night is easy).

How to Fringe 2017 finishes with the person who got my only 5-star fringe review last year. It was everything wrong about fringe festivals (why do some rooms fill up and others stay empty?) and everything right about how do deal with everything wrong. He's not doing a show this year (Edinburgh Fringe is too close to Melbourne Fringe for sanity).

Joshua Ladgrove

The Melbourne Fringe in three words.
Inclusive Arts Festival.

A favourite Melbourne Fringe memory.
Winning the Melbourne Fringe Best Comedy award in 2012 was a really unexpected delight. One of my favourite memories and I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. It’s highly likely I peaked at that moment.

Your experience as an independent artist being part of the Melbourne Fringe.
One of exploration and discovery. Some festivals really feel like you’re part of a sausage grinder and the pressure to perform can be immense. Melbourne Fringe never had that pressure for me. Possibly it’s because where Neal really started back in 2010 in a small gay bar in Collingwood that is no longer.

What makes the Melbourne Fringe unique.
I think the city gets behind it. You can still put on a show in a small out-of-the-way bar and people will come and take a punt. It’s not too big, it’s not too small and it has never had the stain of being overly commercial.

Your advice for choosing what to see in the Melbourne Fringe.
Pick something that sounds weird and go for it. Life is too short to be boring. You can see the opera or ballet year round, but how often can you watch a man stick a well-lubricated microphone into his anus?

(SM: Twice.)

Do you think there’s a better system than star ratings for reviews?
A friend of mine is completing his PhD on this very issue. I’ll be sure to hit you up when he’s done.
In the interim, I think star ratings are odd. I’ve been the beneficiary of lovely 5-star reviews and of harrowing 1-star reviews, so I have no skin in the game anymore, but I think it turns the arts into a sport, to a degree. Art is supposed to be subjective, yet, there are times when clearly, the overwhelmingly majority can agree that a show is worthy of 5 stars, so it does sort of make sense. Maybe a show should just be labelled as ‘Highly Recommended’ if it’s great?

Five shows/events that you will not/did not miss at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe.
Full Metal Jacket and other impractical fashions by Willem Richards
socially (un)acceptable
Josh Glanc: Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian
Can I Get An Amen?! Inspired by the memoirs of Whoopi Goldberg 
Dr. Duck

* Everyone has been asked "What do you do in the arts industry?"; I edit to a short answer.
But: You sound like my mum. This question has just sent me into an irrevocable depression spiral. What indeed…

Here's me thinking I was the hip and groovy writer...

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