I brought a friend to Uncle Tommy’s Campfire, and she was a little miffed: we’re sitting in the backyard of some dinky café and this weird guy tells us stories? That’s it? We paid $10 for this? But as soon as the show began — and it’s the most original beginning you’ll see at a Toronto Fringe Festival show this season — she was hooked, and it was all downhill from there. Man, what a night.
Uncle Tommy doesn’t bother with preliminaries: he’s an affable jerk who’s here to tell his stories because we’re paying him. Now let’s get started — who has a lighter? He’s gonna need a few smokes to get through this shit-show…
The stories aren’t what sell this production: they’re good, but even a good ghost story’s still a ghost story, and you’ve probably heard these before. What sets this one apart is the rapport he builds with the audience, working the awkwardness of the situation to squeeze as many laughs out of us as possible. So long as you can get into the conceit of the show, you’re going to have a marvellous time.
Taylor, better-known for reciting a very different type of story, is really in his element here, and not just because he’s a big, scary, sweaty white guy. He riffs on the audience, on the Fringe, on the hokiness of his own show, and on anything else which takes his fancy. If it’s disposable, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.
Be warned: the nights get mighty chilly down in Kensington Market. Especially if you’re attending a late-night 11 PM edition, be sure and dress warmly. Perhaps bring a blanket to keep your legs from freezing? (Perhaps bring a date to snuggle under it with? Sure, Uncle Tommy’ll probably give you shit for it, but he’ll be smiling through that beard.)
- Uncle Tommy’s Campfire Ghost Stories (for Grown-Ups) is playing until July 12th at FIKA Café (28 Kensington Ave., near Spadina and Dundas.)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- The printed progamme states that this venue is accessible, but this is an error. This venue is not wheelchair-accessible.
- Be advised that this show involves use of smoke effects. Anyone who would be bothered by tobacco or wood smoke should not attend.
- Be advised that this show includes frank and graphic descriptions of violence. These are presented in a slightly cartoonish manner. Anyone who would find this experience bothersome or triggering should not attend.
July 04 at 11:00 PM
July 05 at 10:00 PM
July 07 at 10:00 PM
July 08 at 10:00 PM
July 09 at 10:00 PM
July 10 at 11:00 PM
July 11 at 11:00 PM
July 12 at 10:00 PM
Photograph of Tommy “Uncle Tommy” Taylor provided by the company.