BANNED IN THE USA – Ottawa Fringe Coma 2018

What’s it been now, three straight Ottawa Fringe visits for Gerard Harris? He arrived like a jittery bolt from the blue in 2016 with A TENSION TO DETAIL, then right back the following year with ATTENTION SEEKER. He’s starting to become an Ottawa Fringe tradition, which is fabulous, but this seems to be the first year I’m actually reviewing one of his shows! Which is intimidating, because aside from admiring the gent greatly, I don’t exactly know HOW to review one of his shows. But let’s give it the good old middle-school try, hey?

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The latest storytelling escapade from Gerard Harris is BANNED IN THE USA, and finds itself in Studio Leonard-Beaulne with a simple set of a chair, some water, and a small pile of mysterious posters. The lights go down, a British voice echoes out from the wings as Gerard shouts his own introduction before bursting towards the audience, leaping into said chair like he’d been shot out of a cannon, and just like that the story bursts forth. This one deals mainly with a past misadventure or three involving a dodgy Russian pal with a cybersecurity business, a Montreal-based comedy show that I just remembered being really sad to have missed (even tho I didn’t know who Gerard Harris was at the time), a murder mystery play in Ireland, and one of the most epic airport snafu scenarios you’re ever likely to hear. And that’s just off the top of my head, AND just the performance I attended…Gerard tends towards sidetracks as he propels his tales forward, getting visibly excited as new details present themselves to his memory, and sidetracks can happen at any time. Harris is a brilliant, engaging, dynamic and hilarious performer…but I’m not sure we can really add ‘polished’ to that list of adjectives. But that’s okay with me,because if we did, then he wouldn’t be Gerard Harris.

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photo credit Andrew Alexander

Harris tells his stories with vigor and passion, squirming and shifting in his seat as if he’s just recalled these fantastic tales and can’t wait to tell you before he forgets them once again (which may or may not be what’s actually happening, bless him). He talks fast, packing enough story into any given performance to fill two shows if he could only contain himself and slow down, but where’s the fun in that? Watching a Gerard Harris show is almost like cramming for a really fun exam…you have to pay attention because there’s so much flying your way you could get lost before you know what’s happened. I STILL don’t know what the murder mystery had to do with anything, but I remain unperturbed. Thank goodness it was so funny it could have been a separate show unto itself. Maybe next year..?

This is my third year in a row seeing a Gerard Harris show, so clearly I’m a fan. If you like fun stories told with deprication, charm and a lot of laughs, check him out and you’ll probably join me. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R (and Baby G)

PS check out the rest of Gerard’s Ottawa showtimes and ticket info HERE!

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