Montreal Fringe Festival Reflections

Well, it was fun. That’s really the take home message. I met cool people, did good shows, got a great review, met more cool people, and took some pictures of silly stuff.

Let’s begin…


This is the ID card (laminated!) that I was issued at the Fringe. Notice it says “artiste?” Yes, I am now a card-carrying ARTISTE. Not only did this little laminated beauty fill a void of artistic self esteem, it also got me a 15% discount on photocopies.


I tried hard to grasp the comples politics of Canada. This was by far my best tutorial. And if you are wondering if I always take a camera into the bathroom with me, I think the pic below should answer that question:


So, of all the beauty in Montreal, I find myself taking pictures of words:


Or stuff like this:


I took the foot picture with permission, just so you know. Not that I’m above secretly taking pictures of people’s feet, as readers of this entire blog will know, but that one was by request. And speaking of feet…


Montreal is a beautiful, progressive, European-flavored city, and the fact that Crocs, the most hideous form of footwear every to be unleashed on human-kind, have found their way there is just really a shame. I feel more strongly about this than the virus-like spreading of McDonald’s and Starbucks. I didn’t see too many people wearing them, so maybe the fact that they are on the sidewalk sale rack is good news. Stay strong, Montreal.


Turns out this whole French thing is pretty easy to pick up.


Some Fringe Friends.


Where I stayed, and where I ate…


What I looked like after not sleeping, which was most of the time (this picture is actually in focus)


What Montreal looked like to me after not sleeping.


This may be the only “here’s Montreal” picture I took. How telling.





Here I am getting ready for my show. James, the tech, is focusing my spotlight. I know there is probably some adjustment to be done in Photoshop that would bring back some of the detail in my head, rather than having it look like an actual light bulb, but I have a feeling that this is pretty much how it looked at the moment, and I don’t know how to do that sort of stuff in Photoshop. I could rotate the picture, or make it black and white, but that’s about it. So, light bulb head it is.


And finally…me, in the Denver airport, on my way home, thoroughly exhausted, poised on the brink of good solid week’s worth of sick-as-a-pig recovery. I once again stayed up all night before leaving Montreal, so when I finally got on my plane, around 8:30 a.m., I settled into my seat and the next sound I heard was the captain announcing that we were beginning our descent. I totally missed my pack of pretzels and Ginger Ale.

I paid a hefty price in Montreal – there was just too much to do, and sleeping seemed like a shame. So far, though, I still feel like I’m ahead. and I can hardly wait for the Vancouver Fringe Fest in September. I should be totally recovered by then…



I have not forgotten to post reflections on Montreal, I have just become very, very sick upon returning home. Why post this? Because I think blogs should be updated regularly, even with lame-ass excuses as to why they have not been updated recently. Funny how quickly real life bleeds into blog life, eh? I will not ponder this further, as I am not feeling too spiffy. In fact, I'm looking forward to the relief that feeling like dog shit will surely bring.


So, yeah, reflections soon… 

Montreal Fringe Ends, Barry Is Sad…

Well, that was that – the Montreal Fringe is now officially over, and I have to say that "whirlwind" is a word I usually use with a touch of sarcasm, in this case it is the only word I can think of that fits. Then again, it is a bit early, and I am slightly hungover. In an adult, responsible sort of way. Here's a taste of the reason why…

More pictures and reflections will come soon, but for now here's the "Net Buzz" about my show from the Montreal Fringe web page, where audience members can log on and write their own little reviews:

***Great writing and storytelling, that really pulls you into the everyday atmosphere of a totally weird situation. Very honest and funny, with a neat mix of multimedia too–videos, slides– well worth it!

***The best show I've seen at the Fringe this year: an interesting and potentially perplexing story about joining a cult. In his one man show, Barry Smith interrupts the heaviness of religious devotion and spirituality with pointed comedy and skilled storytelling. Though God may not always be there in moments of indecision, you might [or might not] find Him in a basement in Montana.

***One of the better shows I've seen in the past few years. Funny, introspective, fast paced and very personal. Barry is also very likeable and you want to see where this is going and how he finally comes to the conclusions he comes to. Funny and effective use of slides.. "Was I cooking?'' hehehee.. couldn't stop giggling after that was uttered..

***This show was so good! I feel like I know this guy now. It was really captivating. Interesting and funny. Plus the visuals were great!

Good Morning, Canada…

I had every intention of resting up for this gig – I landed an interview on a major TV morning show whose name I have forgotten, but you have to trust me…it was the real deal.


So, yeah, major TV interview – my first ever. Really an amazing break, and I was going to rest up, really be fresh and ready, but things didn't turn out that way. Instead I stayed up all night long, so that when 8 a.m. reared its head, I had been up for about 24 hours straight. I'm such an asshole sometimes. I stayed awake in the green room by taking pictures, because I knew if I sat down it would all be over for me…



A guy walks into the Green Room who looks exactly like Tom Jones. I find out he's a Tom Jones impersonator. This is surreal enough, but when you place it atop sleep depravation, well…I had to hold on tightly to the rail.


I wish I coudl tell you the interview went well, but I honelstly can't remember. I have a video tape of it – I'll watch it when I get home, when I'm in a more cringe-worthy position.

My last two shows sold out, clearly as a result of the Montreal Gazette review. I have one more show this afternoon, in about 4 hours, actually. I am trying to rest up for it, as I am deeply, deeply tired. Fringe is the most fun imaginable, and I have indulged fully. Alas, this is what I look like at this very moment


Yes, quite flattering. I'm sitting on my little green couch in Montreal, it's blazing hot and muggy, and I'm afraid to look in a mirror, because I suspect that my head might actually be that red.

Still, I'm going to do a great show, and am hoping for another sell out house. Then I'm going to drink a beer.



Montreal Gazette Review

Well, it's here – my first bit of press. And I think it was worth waiting for:

Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult

Rating 5 Stars

Nothing prepared me for the sheer joy and awe I felt all the way through Barry Smith's monologue (with film and slides) about his journey to find the Saviour in Montana. Smith insists it's a true story, but even if it's not, it's a phenomenally urgent one. Smith, a humour columnist in Aspen, Colo., starts his tale of faith gone weird from his fire-and-brimstone childhood. He illustrates the effect it had on him with his reaction to the Biblical story of Abraham – the man who was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac until, at the last moment, God stopped Abraham's hand. Smith rejoins wryly: "Abe! You got punk'd!" And that isn't even the punchline of the tale. Indeed, there isn't a moment during the hour when Smith looks at his spiritual journey with anything but a scintillating sense of humour, a magnificent turn of phrase and a way with a punchline that is jaw-dropping. How he gets to Montana is half the blissful fun (there are stop-offs at the Paul McCartney-is-dead conspiracy and in hitchiker hell). However, when Smith arrives at the self-professed Jesus's house, I had a real revelation: For the first time, I truly understood how smart people end up in cults. And then my eyes were opened wider: This is a devastatingly significant work and I must spread the word. That I laughed – and laughed hard – all the way to that epiphany makes this Fringe a total success for me. You must see Jesus in Montana. – Gaetan L. Charlebois

So, uh, yeah…that's really quite a review. I'm a bit stunned. It was out in yesterday's paper, which is clearly why last night's show sold out, with people having to be turned away. And I think it was a really good show, too.

And I have two more to go…

Amen Surplus

Well, as bad as my second show was, my third show was that good – one of the best ones I’ve even had, in fact. My ears are still ringing from the booming “Amen!”

I heard the Montreal Gazette was at my show last night, so I’m hoping for a good review to be printed soon. Tomorrow, maybe?

Cool, then. I’m heading out for more late-night fringing.


This area of Montreal has the coolest graffiti…

People, Can I Get An Amen?

Generally, the answer to this question is, "AMEN!!" Right? I mean, despite your religious leanings or background, when you are asked this question, you shout "Amen!" I'm assuming that even a Buddhist Monk would respond this way. And I have just learned that I am wrong.

There's this part in my "Jesus In Montana" show, pretty early on, where I build to an exciting little bit, after discovering that Jesus has returned, and ask, loudly and with enthusiasm, if I can get an Amen. Last night, during my second of 6 shows, the answer I got from the audience was "No…no you may not. Not from us, anyway."

Now, when you're doing comedy, your jokes don't always work out the same. Even the ones that I KNOW are good sometimes don't get so much as a chuckle. But I'm learning that you can't depend on laughter, you just keep moving forward. However, in my script, it actually says, after the "Can I get an amen" part, "AUDIENCE YELLS AMEN." The audience obviously wasn't following along in the script last night, and I have to admit it threw me off just a bit.

Third show tonight, in a few hours. We'll see what kind of an Amen they have for me tonight…

Meanwhile, here's the theatre where I'm doing my show:



And here's my dressing room…