A Portrait of the Fringe Artist as a Bitter Man

The following snapshots are all TRUE.

Sam Mullins Weaksauce Winnipeg

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[ARTIST is flyering a line-up of Fringe-goers about to see another show.]

ARTIST – Hey ma’am.  May I tell you about my show?

WOMAN – Um.  I don’t know.  How many stars did you get?

ARTIST – How many stars?  Like in my reviews?

WOMAN – Yes.

ARTIST – Hmph.  Well I’m actually glad that you asked.  I’ve been touring this show for about a year, and by standing onstage delivering the same words in the same order with the same cadence, while wearing the same clothes, I have been fortunate enough to receive 5-star reviews, 4-star reviews, 3-star reviews, and even a 1-and-a-half-star review from a Christian radio station who claimed that I said “Um” too many times.  So, no matter what your star preference is, I think I have just what you’re looking for.

[Artist walks away without handing her a flyer.]

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[ARTIST goes to the box office after a long, hard, hot, 8-hour day of flyering strangers to see how the pre-sales are looking for that evening’s performance.]

ARTIST – So.  How’s it looking for tonight?

BOX OFFICE – For tonight?  Let’s see.  For tonight, your pre-sales are.  Um.  Zero.

ARTIST – Zero?!

BOX OFFICE – Zero.

ARTIST – Literally zero?

BOX OFFICE – Oh wait!  I think I did it wrong.  Let’s see.

ARTIST – [Laughs] Yeah.  I was just going to say…

BOX OFFICE – Ummm. Nope, I did it right.  It’s zero.

[Artist calls MOTHER.]

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[ARTIST is flyering by the main outdoor stage.  He approaches an attractive FRINGER who is leafing through a festival program.]

ARTIST – Hey, may I tell you about my show?

FRINGER – No, I actually saw it already.

[Long beat]

FRINGER – Your last Fringe show was a lot better.

[FRINGER turns her attention back to the program.]

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[ARTIST is onstage performing the final 3 minutes of his show, when a large man in the front row finishes his bottle of Aquafina.  He twists the bottle, folds it in half, steps on it, and places it in his backpack.  It’s fucking loud.  ARTIST thinks to himself, “Hey, it could be worse.” But then nothing comes to mind.]

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[ARTIST is flyering by the main schedule, when he approaches two guys looking for a show.]

ARTIST – Hey guys.  Looking for a show?

GUY – You’re doing a show?

ARTIST – Yeah.

GUY – Terrific!  Sell it to us!

[For the next five minutes, the ARTIST goes into the longest form of his sales pitches.  Dozens of people looking for a show are coming and going, but ARTIST stays committed to these two.  The two guys seem more and more interested, and ARTIST is confident he has a sale.  The pitch concludes, and then….]

GUY – WOW!  That show sounds very interesting!  And perhaps… [he reaches into his back pocket and presents a flyer with a picture of the two GUYS doing a wacky pose.] YOU SHOULD COME SEE OUR SHOW!

ARTIST – You guys are artists?

GUY – We sure are.

ARTIST – You guys are artists, and you just let me flyer you for five minutes?  You just fucking slow-rolled me?

GUY – Um.

ARTIST – UNbelievable.

[ARTIST goes home that night  and soaks in a warm bath of Schadenfreude when he sees that the GUYS’ show is getting critically panned. ARTIST wonders what Hell will be like.]

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[ARTIST emerges from backstage after a performance he had mixed feelings about, and a well-dressed GIRL approaches him.]

GIRL – I, um.  [she starts to cry] I just wanted to give you a hug.  And say thank you for your show.

ARTIST – That’s so sweet.  Thank you.

GIRL – I just got out of a serious relationship, and your show was actually exactly what I needed in this moment.  It was very close to home, but in a good way.  It makes me feel hopeful about love.  And.  Life.  So.  Thank you for that.

[She smiles through her tears and walks away. ARTIST, for the briefest of moments feels good about his life decisions that led to this moment in a back alley in Winnipeg.]

[ARTIST goes to Pita Pit.]