Pat Burtscher’s Waffle House (Our Friendly Planet from London, England) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

Pat Burtscher is honest. He tells you right away that he has no show. Then he looks at the clock and says it’s going to be a long hour. He isn’t lying. Many audience members glanced at the clock on the wall throughout the hour, but no one looked at it more than Patrick himself.

I saw the very first performance of Pat Burtscher’s Waffle House, which is the whimsical name he gave his stand up comedy Fringe show. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much stand-up comedy.

He spent a lot of time talking to the audience, like complimenting our shoes and asking us how long we’ve been married. Occasionally he did try to comedically riff on our answers. These are the sorts of tactics I expect from a host at a club like Yuk Yuk’s and Patrick might fare well in that sort of role, in that sort of venue. I can imagine him doing well at keeping a half-tanked audience roused in between sets. His onstage persona has an amiable shambling and slurring that would well suit a licensed venue, and audience members tend to be more enthused about interaction in that milieu.

A Fringe audience, however, expects a show, a piece that has been scripted, directed and rehearsed. This includes comedy. There is all sorts of comedy at the Fringe – stand-up, sketch, improv – and even when it doesn’t work it usually has had some effort put into it.

Patrick did tell us that he hadn’t expected to be putting on a show because he had been on the wait list. That provided some context. But I couldn’t help wondering – how much notice did he have? Can Fringe call someone up and say “Ok, you’re on in two weeks”?

Then I thought further – there was a lot of space to think while Patrick was yet again checking the time on the clock against his watch – well, it can take a long time to arrange to get here from England. He’s Canadian and told us he lives in the UK because he can make a living there as a comedian. I’m certainly aware how hard it is to make a buck as an artist here, but the fact that he’s a professional comedian in the UK begs the question – why couldn’t he use his material from there for this?

Even if all his jokes are about the Queen and bangers and mash, we’d still probably laugh.

Occasionally he tried for a joke but the result was often very offensive. Now, I like South Park, and I loved Wondershowzen – offensive humour is my favourite when it’s making fun of the right things. But I can’t laugh at a “joke” that rape has ruined men’s ability to hit on women. Or that “handicapped kids” are awesome because all they need to have fun is a colouring book and some crayons.

Patrick ended by saying the show will be much better in eight days because he will have worked on it with all his audiences. Hey, maybe that’s true.

Pat Burtscher’s Waffle House plays at Venue 5, The Solo Room at the Randolph Academy, 736 Bathurst Street, M5S 2R4

– 60 min.
Wed, July 6 6:30 PM 501
Thu, July 7 7:45 PM 505
Fri, July 8 3:00 PM 507
Sat, July 9 5:00 PM 512
Sun, July 10 8:00 PM 519
Thu, July 14 8:00 PM 534
Fri, July 15 8:45 PM 538
Sat, July 16 4:30 PM 541

– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows

 

9 thoughts on “Pat Burtscher’s Waffle House (Our Friendly Planet from London, England) 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. I was also at the first show. Initially I thought, maybe, that his “aw shucks, I have nothing prepared” style was exactly that – a style, which would eventually lead into a prepared performance. In fact, it was true, he had nothing substantive prepared. It was an insult to the audience to prepare nothing and expect people to pay to see him rambling on – sometimes with a bit of humour, admittedly. But not much. He did point out that there were no refunds.

    He accepted the gig in time to get in the programme, so there was time to prepare. He seriously needs a director.

    Strongly not recommended.

  2. Easy people, it’s a work in progress show and I couldn’t change the ticket price, but what I can do is offer you the deal of a lifetime. If you like the show I keep the money and if you don’t I’ll give you half back ’cause I gotta pay my mom the money she leant me so that I could chase my dream. It’s only fair. You put up with me for an hour and she dealt with me my whole life.

    I also got to yesterdays show late because of the TTC blowing goats. So I’ll make sure to be there earlier from now on so I can properly prepare for the show.

    I strongly recommend you don’t listen to Donard.

    Also, Dorianne Emmerton took some of what I said out of context. I know this is petty, but so is taking stuff outta context.

    Mega hugs and love,

    Pat

  3. I think it was actually quite funny it kinda reminds me somewhat of Zach Galfianakis. If you have watched Zach at the purple onion you will understand. I also think it might of been the wrong crowd for this type of comedy.

  4. I saw the opening show as well and quite enjoyed it. It is certainly not for everyone and, yes, I disagreed with some of the jokes. However, I thought the unprepared persona was a persona and found some of the jokes clever and unusual. Does the show need some polish? Sure. Does Pat have real potential because he says things other people might not say and takes his jokes to places other people wouldn’t go (many times with comedic results)? Yes. Does he have a persona down? I think so. Also, I agree that the statements about rape and children with disabilities were out of context and reductive. Pat’s humour is kind of nasty and cynical and includes the new “non-joke” joke, but I thought it was innovative and that he could tighten his show into something amazing.

    Not for everyone; but, if you like the style, I think you might really enjoy it.

  5. In order to qualify as a ‘work in progress’ one must have something to work with. It seems as if Pat Burtscher does not. An hour in front of a class of junior high students might cure him of this arrogance. Wednesday’s audience was far too polite. His response just sounds like excuses , excuses, and more excuses. I guess it works with his Mom.

  6. I don’t think it’s true what the reviewer says, that a Fringe audience expects a show, a piece that has been scripted, directed and rehearsed. I think many Fringers are looking for something edgy, original and unconventional, and this show was all of those things. Over the next 10 days, I’ll be willing to bet that more people will be talking about this show than almost every other show in this year’s Fringe.

    It was the first show I saw this year, and while it won’t likely be the best I’ve seen, I did enjoy its whimsical and spontaneous nature. But some others won’t.

  7. Pat admits that his show is “a work in progress”. Dorianne Emmerton says that a “A Fringe audience, however, expects a show, a piece that has been scripted, directed and rehearsed.”

    Dorianne is right. By presenting a show at the Fringe Pat is putting himself in the company of the other shows – and by taking up a slot, excluding someone else. My comment about being unprepared does not refer to arriving late for a performance. I hope Pat manages to catch some other shows, which are usually well-prepared, mostly scripted and rehearsed. Many have programmes, some even in colour!! He will probably realize he is out of his depth by being in the Fringe with this approach.

    If he had bothered do a load of preparation work, got a show together, and worked with a director, he might, someday, come up with a reasonable show. But he did not do that this year, and admits that he is presenting a “work in progress”. This is not the impression given his entry in the Fringe program. which included positive reviews from UK sources. It was this that fooled me.

    This comedy development exercise is not what the fringe is about. Hence, my feeling he did not respect the audience. It is a guy who can tell a few jokes, but has not even organized them into an act.

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