Keir Cutler’s Teaching the Fringe is an entertaining hour-long monologue, consisting of the elaborate rebuttal of a letter of complaint written by a woman who attended one of his previous shows. While her comments probably didn’t necessitate such an extensive response, amused audiences will be glad they did.
Cutler manages to express his contempt for the position of the complainer largely through self-deprecating humour. He also uses indirect reasoning to make fun of the weaker arguments. While that may not sound like a compelling show, the premise serves as a fine platform for Cutler’s expressiveness and pleasing verbal style. The gradual process of deconstructing the complaint through humour is particularly gratifying to anyone who has thrown some work of their own into the public domain, only to experience mystifying and half-unhinged responses.
The show’s only truly flat moment arrives with a series of jokes about 9/11. It wasn’t really that they were insensitive, they just weren’t funny. Their painless expulsion would render the performance amusing from start to finish.
Those in Ottawa have two more chances to see it and, judging by some of the autiobiographical references therein, it seems likely to tour other Canadian cities.