Audience of One (New King Productions) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Eric Andrews for Audience of One by El KeeganEric Andrews is a Canadian Comedy Award-winning stand-up comedian currently performing a show called Audience of One, presented by New King Productions at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. Stand-up comics will often book a slot in the Fringe and present a show that’s usually a variation on their stand-up set. This show is decidedly not that; Andrews goes for something a bit more conceptual and the result isn’t necessarily what you’d expect of a solo show by a stand-up comedian. 

Andrews has created a vaguely autobiographical show mostly consisting of bizarre and slightly sad moments from his childhood. He takes the stage as a tightly-wound ball of nervous energy, fully admitting off the bat that words aren’t his strong suit, and then launches into a scattershot collection of odd anecdotes that together form a tentative, halting monologue.

Though scripted, the effect comes off feeling like an off-the-cuff rambling stream of consciousness. Andrews keeps us guessing where he’s going as he abruptly ends one odd story to begin another before playing us an offbeat voicemail left by his mother. Segues be damned.

The effect is a bit like if you took that awkward kid who always sat at the back of your grade nine English class and threw him up at the front of the class to present a report on a book he obviously hadn’t read. It’s amusing to an extent to watch him putter about and grasp at straws hoping to score a few points but ultimately it’s kind of uncomfortable to watch.

Throughout Audience of One, I found myself laughing as often to break the awkward tension in the room as in response to something I found genuinely funny.

To be fair, I couldn’t really tell if Andrews was doing schtick and the awkward, nervous-energy was a persona and I imagine the degree to which you’ll enjoy the show depends on how much you find that odd, goofball persona endearing. But after a while, the schtick wore thin for me and I found myself wanting something a little bit more structured.

Details

  • Audience of One plays at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room (30 Bridgman Ave.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warnings: Not recommended for persons under 14 years of age, sexual content, audience participation, mature language
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.

Performances

  • Friday, July 5th, 3:00pm
  • Saturday, July 6th, 6:45pm
  • Monday, July 8th, 9:15pm
  • Tuesday, July 9th, 8:30pm
  • Wednesday, July 10th, 3:00pm
  • Thursday, July 11th, 4:30pm
  • Saturday, July 13th, 6:45pm
  • Sunday, July 14th, 1:00pm

Photo of Eric Andrews by El Keegan