Montreal Fringe: A Murder Mystery and a Raunchy Bonhomme Carnaval

An Awkward Apologetic Evening with Leighland Beckman

I was at the Petit Campus once again to spend an evening with Leighland Beckman. The Fringe description for his show promised the audience a guitarist, dirty songs, profuse apologies and a happy ending. 

The last day of Montreal Fringe, June 19, was his last show. I wondered how long the songs would be for the event to be more than an hour long. Just then Yumi Blake walked up to the stage. She is a standup comedian opening for Beckman that night. She is frail looking and soft-spoken, but her jokes and anecdotes hit hard. 

I couldn’t have been more embarrassed when I found myself relating really well to one of her witty Montreal anecdotes, where she perpetuated the myth of those attending McGill being intellectual, and while those who aren’t must be studying elsewhere. Having just graduated from Concordia, it was the moment I realised I have slowly turned into a local. She nailed it with her standup and I am looking forward to seeing her on more platforms. 

Leighland Beckman stayed true to the show description. Right after he set his mic, adjusted his beard and guitar, he apologised in advance before playing his songs.

For the first, he made us all sing along to get us to relax in order for him to do the same. Two lines into the song, it turned so dirty that I burst out laughing and couldn’t sing along anymore. There were two old ladies who were cracking up behind me. 

Comedy is hard and so subjective. What’s funny for one person isn’t funny to the other. Even if there was one person who walked away after that first song, the whole room stayed till the end, getting the most of what Beckman’s witty head had to offer. 

For Beckman’s Got No Love song, a couple were slapping each other’s thighs and laughing their face masks off. A group of friends were going hysterical for the Bonhomme Carnaval song. A satirical song of the Carnaval de Québec. Then came the time for some interaction with the audience. The couple that was sitting close to the stage had to maintain eye contact as the heavy-voiced singer Beckman sang the Hernia song. Everybody, along with the couple, were cracking up. Soon after this experience, they had to order some hard drinks for themselves. 

It was almost at the end of the show when Beckman rested his guitar and pulled out an erotic essay from a ’90s magazine, written by a local. The way he boringly narrated the rather stalky creative erotica, with abrupt non-sync pauses, made it more funny than enticing. 

For one last time, he grabbed his guitar and played a few dirty songs before ending the show. 

“I saw you but I smelt you first”, from one of his songs made me laugh so hard that I squealed. I was and still am glad that I didn’t grab a drink that day. 

I showed his video to my friend who couldn’t accompany me that day. As I was remembering the live experience, she agreed that she really did miss out on all of Beckman’s antics that evening. So, don’t be like her. 

Leighland Beckman sells his dirty song CDs for 10 dollars each on his website. Grab one CD for your own or watch him perform them live for his next event. I highly recommend attending one of his shows as the cringe is inexplicably funny when it is live. 

The Family Crow: A Murder Mystery, A one-man-one-crow puppet show

I walked through a windy yet calm patch of the heavy thunderstorm that spread across Quebec and Ontario, to get to Le Ministère. I am happy that the strong gusty winds of Montreal didn’t blow me or my umbrella away. But oh boy! Adam Francis Proulx with his masterpiece and extraordinary puppetry indeed blew me away. 

The room was packed to witness how Detective Horatio P. Corvis would unveil the murder mystery of the prodigal son of the boastful Crow family. On the stage, Russel’s body was surrounded by his mourning family of four. From the staunch right-winger father Cameron, to the valley crow sister Sheryl, Horatio suspects everybody.

Except for little Michel who would get stuck in the crosshairs of solving the murder mystery. (Fun fact: a group of crows is called a murder).

To the audience’s amusement, Proulx played all the characters dressed in a black and blue tuxedo, the marvellously designed puppet attached to his hat and controlled by his hand. With scintillating Amazon-bought scene setting lights and pre-recorded amateur suspense music, captivating voice-modulated acts, and nail-biting storytelling, the show was single-handedly carried on by writer-puppeteer Proulx. 

And the puns! How can I forget the slow-clap deserving, sometimes hilarious dad jokes and puns? They were of all kinds of them, from words rhyming with crow to crowberries for breakfast, he was killing it. Proulx did warn us about the puns and gave us a few minutes to leave before the show started. Well, no one budged and he delivered. 

Adam Francis Proulx is the same guy who won accolades for his 2017’s Fringe puppet show 12 Angry Puppets. For his Montreal Fringe performance that day, he received a well deserved crowning standing ovation. 

Watch the trailer here and book your tickets for his next show at Vancouver Fringe here