FRINGE ATTENDANCE: "We hit 9,945 Saturday, only 55 tickets off 10,000 attendance for the very first time. So close!" says the festival's executive producer, Chuck McEwen. Sunday was a tad quieter at 8,246. "But Thursday through Sunday we still set new attendance records each day." They need 1,012 extra tickets more than last year's sales stats every day now to get to the 100,000 record they hope to set for this 25th anniversary. "We're on pace as long as the weather holds and people keep seeing more shows."
McEwen says the advantage of the second week is you have word-of-mouth established and all the reviews are out. Disadvantage? Everybody knows, so you have to line up early for popular shows. A portion of tickets are always sold at the door.
OVERNIGHT FRINGE BLITZ: This year's fest offered a 25-hour pass from 11 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday -- with eight extra shows going all night at the MTC Warehouse. "I stayed awake the whole time drinking lots and lots of coffee, which made going to sleep the next day a little tough," says McEwen. How many wild 'n crazy people came out? "Well, 65 people bought 25-hour passes, there were a few singles, and some came just to see the Crumbs." He says they were lively night owls, excitedly tweeting and Facebooking all night. Did all the artists hear their alarms? "Nobody slept in, which was my great fear. You know artists!" Smart performers camped out overnight in front of MTC Warehouse. "They were having their own 25-hour event, while we were inside."
FRINGE CHARACTER: Certain eccentric folks like Amie Cote (pictured at right) show up every day at the Fringe, in costume. The flamboyant Cote wears a brilliant sequined shirt, cowboy hat or porkpie, extremely short shorts, sparkling jewelry, fake tan, blond hair, and pony boots. He stands to the right of the stage, often posing for pictures. Why is Cote so attracted to the Fringe? The flamboyant 72-year-old confesses he used to be in a circus. His specialty was a tiger act where a full-sized beast would stand over top of him and lick his face for the finale. Another act involved lying in a coffin with "thousands of snakes" dumped on him. "I would kind of go to sleep and they wouldn't bother me," he says. He pulls out a picture showing an extremely handsome younger man -- himself. "I was also a model," he says, strutting off and striking a pose.
CHICKENS OF THE WORLD, UNITE: Friday night at 8 p.m., a quartet of men and women -- highlighting Drek Daa's Kuravolution fringe offering -- stripped to the waist and smeared themselves with mud in Old Market Square. They were protesting industry's inhumane treatment of chickens. The four of them stood crammed together, facing outward, with chicken wire wrapped around them -- in front of a chicken coop with real chickens. Fringers looked taken aback as they walked by the fenced enclosure. "It was quite a showstopper," said a passerby. "Shocking! I think they made their point."
GRASSROOTS JUSTICE: Fringe players are upset with members of certain shows who've been postering over other companies' advertising or putting more than one playbill on a wall, with 172 shows needing ad space. There are no rules, just courtesy and the honour system. Insiders told yours truly offenders are dealt with by the Fringe players -- who boycott their shows. That's a big loss, as Fringe performers are avid show attendees, very enthusiastic, and rev up the crowd energy.