Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth


There are some people who spend their whole life dreaming of going to Disneyland. The magical world of dreams where the impossible becomes real. A place that is full of colourful characters, music, laughter and amazing experiences. They call it the Happiest Place on Earth.

Well I say bollocks to that.

I know where the REAL Happiest Place on Earth is. It's not in California, Japan or China. It is right here in sleepy little Adelaide town. When the circus that is the Adelaide Fringe Festival rolls into town each year the streets come alive. Everywhere you go there are strange and unusual people, there's an energy, an electricity. There is things to do and see. LOTS of things to do and see. Even if you don't count all the other festivals, concerts and events happening in South Australia in the same period, there are 900 shows in the Fringe alone. Some of my happiest times have been rushing around seeing three or four shows in a night, hanging out in the Garden and catching up with people who almost don't exist outside of festival time.

Admittedly it doesn't last very long. Just a measly few weeks in February and March. By the middle of March it all comes to an end and we go back into hibernation for eleven months, only occasionally popping our heads out of the burrow to complain about nothing happens here, or that our favourite band is skipping Adelaide despite the fact last time they toured nobody bought any tickets here.

But that said, for four weeks when Adelaide is as exciting as New York or London. We are completely spoiled for choice when it come to entertainment. Where to start? What to shell out on tickets to? What to avoid? What new experience to embrace? How to fit it all in?

Well I can't tell you that. I'm not your mum. The pathway to a perfect Fringe is like any of life's great journeys. You plot your course, you do your preparation and choose your travelling companions for maximum fun-a-bility. But if you are smart, you allow for detours, surprises and unexpected pleasures. You allow yourself to go with the flow and roll with the punches.

It still amazes me when I meet people who don't even go to The Fringe. "It's not really my kind of thing" they say, to which my reaction is often a quiet 'Maybe you are therefore not my kind of person'. If you can't find anything you love in 900 shows you are not really trying. However if you are new to Fringeyness there are a few things you can try that might help you out.

1) Get out of the house. Hang out in the Garden or Gluttony, there are often rush tickets (i.e. cheap) for shows especially in the early part of a run. Also all the acts are out spruiking their shows and you might just find something that sounds like a good prospect.

2) Try something. There are a number of late night comedy showcase gigs were there is a host and a bunch of different Fringe acts doing short spots. I have caught my first glimpse of many awesome acts at this type of show. You generally don't know what you are going get but it's a great way to get a lucky dip of entertainment. See Rhino Room Late Show, The Phatcave, Hans After Dark, All Star Late Night amongst others.

3) Mix it up. Go see some comedy, music, burlesque, maybe a theatre show there is masses to do and see.

4) Talk to people. One of the best ways of finding a great show to see is talking to other people out seeing Fringe events. Word of mouth is often more reliable than traditional reviews, although this blog will obviously be indispensable for you over the next few weeks.

5) Want to see comedy but not sure where to start - head for the Adelaide's heart & soul of comedy - The Rhino Room in Frome Road. There is eight different shows a night local, national and International acts PLUS The Late Show (where anybody can and do turn up).

I have taken the liberty of making a short list of shows I think are going to be exceptional this year so maybe take a skim through that to start with.

In short; the next month could very easily be the best fun you have for 2012. It's up to you to get off your bottom and put yourself in front of comedians, musician, burlesque ladies, acrobats, puppets, magicians and more. Get out there and have an awesome Fringe, I certainly will be.

xxx Ian

Ian's far from complete Fringe 2012 Shortlist


Dave Callan - Psychology of Laughter Rhino Feb 21 - Mar 3

Sam Simmons - About The Weather Deluxe Feb 17 - Mar 18

Hannah Gadsby - Hannah Wants A Wife Rhino Feb 21 - Mar 4

Gordon Southern - A Brief History of History Rhino Feb 21- Mar 17

Felicity Ward - The Hedgehog Dilemma LA Cascadeur Feb 17 - Mar 18

Axis of Awesome - World Tour 2006 The Vagabond Mar 5 - Mar 18

Wil Anderson - Wilarious The Vagabond Mar 5 - Mar 18

Lindsay Webb - Humanity Rhino Room Mar 6 - Mar 18

Die Roten Punkte Idolize Feb 27 - Mar 2

Paul Foot - Still Life Umbrella Revolution Mar 1 - Mar 18

Barry Morgans World of Organs Umbrella Revolution Feb 17 - Mar 18

Sammy J & Randy - The Inheritance Umbrella Revolution Feb 17 - Mar 18

Sammy J - The Sammy J Songbook Umbrella Revolution Feb 28 (1 SHOW ONLY)

Randy - Randy is SoberUmbrella Revolution Mar 4 (1 SHOW ONLY)

David O'Docherty - Is Looking Up Nova Mar 13 - Mar 18

Mike Wilmot The Hunting Lodge Feb 28 - Mar 18

3 Canadians The Palace - Feb 24 - Mar 18

Tom Gleeson - Good One The Hunting Lodge Feb 24 - Mar 18

Tom Binns - Ian D Monfort - Spirit Medium The Cupola Feb 24 - Mar 18

Tom Binns - Ivan Brackenbury's Disease Hour The Comedy Mint (Glenelg) Feb 25, Mar 3 and 10 (3 SHOWS ONLY)

Jason Chong - Jason Chong's Mum The Campanile - Mar 6 - Mar 18

Jason Chong - Jason Chong's Reel Life Lo-Fi (Gluttony) - Feb 25, 26 - Mar 3-5, 10&11 and 17,19 (Tix $12/$10).

Dave Thornton - The Some of All The Parts Rhino Room Feb 21 - Mar 3

Greg Fleet - Bring It Rhino Mar 6 - Mar 17

Tom Ballard - Doing Stuff Feb 24 & 25

Bob Franklin - Sir Robert Rhino Room Mar 6 - Mar 17

Sound & Fury - Doc Faustus Excess Theatre (Gluttony) Feb 23 - Mar 17

Angus Hodge - Is Thematically Challenged Funny Pork (Gluttony) Feb 25 - Mar 17

James McCann - Awaiting My MoustacheFunny Pork (Gluttony) Mar 4 - Mar 10


The Magnets - Gobsmacked Feb 24 - Feb 29

Adam Cohen Idolize Spiegeltent Mar Mar 8

Bonnie Prince Billy Idolize Spiegeltent Mar 7

Tex Perkins & The Band of Gold Idolize Spiegeltent Feb 22/23 (2 SHOWS ONLY)

Stephen Cummings Idolize Spiegeltent Feb 25

PS If you have a Fringe show and want it reviewed contact me at


  1. Adelaide is SO MUCH BETTER during fringe. Lovely list. I see Sammy J and Randy and I see Sound and Fury every year. Always something new and always very funny. There are alot of acts I've never heard of on your list and I look forward to checking them out as well. THANKS

  2. Thanks Jill. Saw Sammy J & Randy tonight and they were excellent. Love to hear what shows you end up seeing. Have a great Fringe!