This week, I made my first visit to The Spaghetti Variety Show, a recurring event, staged by Joel Edmiston and his comrades-in-comedy, stand-up comics and actors. The Spaghetti Variety Show is fast developing a cult following and I can understand why. There is something addictive about watching this theatrical lunacy. The show pulls in a young, smart, attractive crowd.
Sitting in a basement theatre, in trendy Kensington Market, the stage has the look of studied wreckage. A curtain made entirely of cut up garbage bags, held together with duct tape, veils the backstage area. Plastic sheeting covers the stage to protect it from piles of food that will be thrown or rolled around in. The Spaghetti Variety Show is a kind of frat house drama with possible fetishistic overtones, something like a toga party, but without all the bother. For the record, only the audience knows for sure. All I can say is the place was packed.
On stage, there is free-flowing lineup of stand-up comic acts. The routines are often interrupted, challenged, and merged with another, free-wheeling drama, enacted by a fabulous cast of characters.
For this show, the separate and parallel storyline had something to do with a mad-shirtless-scientist creating a raccoon with human emotions, a barefoot robot, and Joel Edmiston’s crisis with his golf instructor. The instructor is having a breakdown over his parent’s forthcoming divorce. His mother develops a crush on raccoon-man and the father seems to secretly lust for Joel. I’m not sure I got any of this right, but that really isn’t the point. I mean, it’s hard to concentrate on details when people are enveloped in food. (The costumes have to be seen to be believed.)
Somehow, all of these antics are funny as hell, and I couldn’t stop laughing. When I first heard about this event, I actually feared going because randomly silly entertainment can rapidly wear thin. But there is something in the very bones of this enterprise that makes for mad fun. The Spaghetti Variety Show makes you feel great, and there is a marvellous after-glow, too. You think, “Wow. I was right. Adulthood is for suckers!”
Overall, all the stand-ups and actors are terrific, but Joel Edmiston is a great impresario and one could imagine him doing a late-night show. He just LOVES doing this stuff and it shows. The next Spaghetti Variety Show is scheduled for October 14, so don’t miss it.
I am just praying next time they do a shirtless spaghetti wresting match, with primavera sauce. So good!
Cast of The Spaghetti Variety Show:
All photos by Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.