BRAG’s guide to what’s happening in and around Fringe Festival Village Three.
Tien Tran doesn’t agree with most people, on most things. And you won’t see glowing reviews on his Facebook page either (more on this later). But having been nominated for the Best Comedy award at last year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, it would be incorrect to assume that Train is without acclaim. It’s just that he’s not wired to take on the same perspectives as the general public. “I think I look on the side of life that people don’t often look at. And I think I look in places where most people don’t tend to look in,” says Tran.
It all started at the age of 20 when Tran tried his hand at screenwriting. “I wanted to be a screenplay writer originally, like movies and stuff,” he says. But then he discovered he was actually quite bad at it. “I wrote a screenplay and when I read it again I thought, ‘this is horrible!’”says Tran. And that’s when the light bulb moment came. “I had all these ideas left, so I translated them to stand-up comedy.”
Tran fans will be familiar with the comedian’s unconventional method of posting bad reviews of his own gigs on his Facebook page. “It amuses me,” he explains. “Negative feedback amuses me way more than positive feedback. All comedy is about tragedy. All comedy is about taking hostage.” When Tran sees a reviewer taking a stab, he laughs. And sometimes even offers them a signed poster.
Which is what happened when the Perth native was criticised online by a viewer who claimed he was a racist “Vietnamese guy with a Greek wog-boy accent” who picked on minorities. “I thought it was the funniest comment I’d ever seen!” says Tran. “If I’m with a political crowd then my more political material gets the better response … I perform in a lot of inner city clubs where it’s very ethnically diverse, so I think the racial stuff hits the hardest with those crowds.”
You’ll have to decide yourself whether or not Tran’s a racist. Maybe you’ll catch his gig at The Container located at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre and make your judgment call. “If you’ve never been there before, The Container is a refurbished shipping container with the lounge on the inside. There’s air-con and a stand and mic and it’s really cool,” says Tran. “It’s like a little niche thing. I’ve performed there once before and I thought it was great. To first walk into a shipping container and then see live comedy? It’s quite the alternative to a traditional room.”
And more on the “alternative”? “I’d like to call myself more of an alternative comic. You don’t want to say what you are because somebody will always say something else,” says Tran. “But I think I’m alternative and I think the Sydney Fringe Festival is alternative in all aspects from music to comedy to performance arts. And that’s where my style lies.”
BY STEPHANIE YIP
What: Tien Tran
Where: The Container at Factory Theatre
When: September 11-14 and September 18-20
Gen Fricker’s a youngster with the goods. She’s a comedian, writer and classical-trained musician. Want more? She was a national finalist in RAW 2011, she writes for ABC’s The Roast and freelances for the Sydney Morning Herald. For Sydney Fringe Festival 2013, Fricker’s testing the waters with some new material, namely her newest show The Day After. We caught up with her to suss things out.
What can we expect from The Day After? It’s a little experimental. I’m trying a few things I haven’t done before, incorporating some new elements, but at the heart it’s just about me telling some stories about some dumb and not-so-dumb things that have happened.
Best/worst gig ever?
Louis CK dropping in at The Sydney Comedy Store for a surprise set and then having to go on stage after him. I don’t remember how I did it, but it was a pretty special night. I still have to pinch myself when I think about it.
Your view on heckling? Please don’t. Please.
What inspires you about Sydney’s comedy scene and what excites you about being on the Sydney Fringe lineup? I love Sydney’s comedy scene because it’s so nurturing. There’s a place for every voice to develop, and lots of opportunities for comics of differing ages and experiences to mix and collaborate. And you can see that reflected in the Fringe Comedy program – the many interstate acts who are migrating here, and the crazy mix of traditional stand up with theatre with format shows etcetera. There’s literally something for everyone.
Give us your best punchline.
“A /// D /// A / D /” (lights to blackout). I’m a musical comic.
Where: Factory Theatre
When: Thursday 15, 19, 25 September & October 3Write a Letter to the Editor