Sunday, August 6, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "What If We Hugged?"


Show: 9


By: Comedy Suitcase

Created by: Levi Weinhagen

Location: Strike Theater

Summary: A solo show from Fringe favorite Levi Weinhagen about fatherhood, heart disease, and what it means to be a man.

Highlights: You're probably used to seeing Levi, as he says in the show, running around and falling down as part of Comedy Suitcase (with Joshua English Scrimshaw). There's none of that here, instead it's a funny, personal, and relatable storytelling show. Having been raised by TV (in addition to his mother), he sets up the show in that familiar sitcom structure, compete with improvised commercials (I think my love language is TV sitcoms). In the "cold open" he tells us about what to expect in the show, in an informal and personable way, like he's just telling us a story over drinks in a bar, a style he continues throughout the show. Act I of this sitcom is the story of the somewhat traumatic birth of his daughter some 17 years ago, and his habit of passing out in times of great stress (it's a medical condition, and his love language). Act II recounts his experience with heart surgery, despite living a heart-healthy lifestyle for decades (it's in the genes). Even though the show is scripted, the stories don't sound rehearsed, they sound charmingly natural as he responds to audience reaction, speaking directly to us. The show is laugh out loud funny, full of pop culture references, and also speaks to issues of connection, relationships, politics, and the general stresses of being a human. He's vulnerable about his thoughts and fears and insecurities, in a way that makes us feel it's OK to feel those things too. And like at the end of those TV family sitcoms, sometimes a hug makes everything better (but only if it's consensual).