Critical Comedy Meets Fringe World: Sonny Yang vs Fringe

Interviewed by Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung

So first up what's the deal with Sonny Yang Vs Fringe? Why were you driven to create this comedy show and critique on Fringe World?

It all started one night at last year’s Fringe festival, when I went into town to collect my Fringe artist pass. Little did I know, it would take me an entire day to get my hands on a Fringe artist pass as I had to be re-directed to about 5 different offices and speak to a multitude of rude festival employees who all seemed highly sceptical of the idea that I was an artist (probably because I was neither wearing suspenders nor sporting a fancy vaudevillian moustache). 

It wasn’t until 7:30pm later that evening when someone finally (albeit reluctantly) saw fit to give me my pass, at which point I had racked up $17 in parking fees. The whole experience left me quite bothered and frustrated. Yes, that is my motivation for doing this show.

How did it go getting it passed to show at Fringe World? Were they worried about the criticism the show could bring?

 Funny you should ask, the show was initially going to be called ‘Sonny Yang Hates Fringe’ until the powers-that-be suggested a change of title so as to avoid any notion of ill will towards the festival. Which is fair enough, I mean ‘hate’ is a pretty strong word in hindsight and I’m generally not a hateful person - I just love unnecessarily antagonising people and organisations. Hence the change to the more appropriate title ‘Sonny Yang Vs Fringe’.

It helped that the show is being produced by Infinite Jest, a local comedy company who have done great (if misguided) work at previous festivals.

You say you're critiquing EVERY SHOW that sure is a feat! Are we talking the different types of shows or is there an actual bone to pick with some names appearing on the Fringe program? 

It is an immensely massive feat. I’ve figured that if I can’t squeeze all of my material into 50 minutes of stage time, I’m just going to have to spend the duration of the show criticising the Children’s Events shows, for they are the program category most deserving of my ire.

Comedy plays a big part of Fringe World, are we going to see a critique on the different comedy styles that pass through Fringe?

If you consider clowning and mime a style of comedy then yes.

What are your thoughts on Fringe as a platform for growing comedy artists, established comedy troupes and comedians who want to try new approaches with their art form?

All joking and hatred aside, I think the Fringe is the best thing that’s ever happened for the WA arts & entertainment industry and is a fantastic platform for artists (both established and aspiring) to be able to truly express themselves and share their craft with the wider public. But know this: even a metaphysical platform will eventually crumble under the weight of one’s own folly and hubris, at which point I will most definitely be there watching and silently judging. I’m looking at you 24 Hour Big Hoo Haa…