Thursday, July 12, 2007

We Didn't Start the Fire (of Controversy) but We'll Post it Anyway

"Jim" and others have posted various viewer rave reviews about Jihad Me at Hello that seem to contradict the initial Eye Weekly Review that we received. The following picks up the story with "Gillespi," who inadvertently starts an internet brushfire with his cynical suspicions...
  1. Gillespi Says:

    “Stunning”? “Pick of the Fringe”? “Breath of fresh air”?

    Hmmm…anyone else smell the cast posting rave reviews under assumed names up here?

  2. (insert generic name here) Says:

    I see what you mean Gillespi…But can you blame them?

  3. Gillespi Says:

    Heck no, man! Do what you gotta do.

    But guys…next year, try a bit of subtlety, eh? We’ve all been there, and it sucks to get a bad review, but you gotta slip your faux reviews in under the radar.

    For example…

  4. Paula Says:

    First off, this show isn’t for everyone. A lot of the content would be considered rude or offensive to the squeamish. But there’s a lot of really funny material in this show! I went on opening night, and the cast was doing a great job of selling gags and jokes that I would normally gasp in shock at.

    The Fringe is often a gamble, but I would say that Obscene but not heard is a pretty safe bet for those who like their theatre edgy.

    Highly recommended, but not to the faint of heart.

    Four stars.

  5. Gillespi Says:


    A very positive review that is very believable to the viewer.

    Anyway, best of luck to the group.

  6. not good Says:

    There sketches were sub par.

    I would liken the show to the way a teenager swears to get attention.

    Don’t go if you enjoy smart comedy.

  7. Obscene Writer Says:

    Dear Mr. and or Mrs. possibly Ms. Gillespie

    I was the head writer on the show “Jihad me at Hello”. Unfortunately, I was too tied down with commitments to tour with them, but I have been keeping a close eye on reviews and so on. While I have no objection to negative reviews and opinions about the show itself, to denegrate the positive reviews and imply that they were written by company members is a bit unfair. I suppose the wide gap between the “Official” review and some of the “raves” might cause suspicion, but I think we can chalk it up to varying tastes rather than sneaky publicity stunts. Your demonstration showed that it could be done, that doesn’t mean that it was.

    Thanks for seeing the show, and taking the time to give us some feedback.

  8. Gillespi Says:

    Dear Mr. Head Writer,

    Greetings. It’s a pleasure to make the aquaintence of one who so earnestly composes “pontifications on ball-licking”.

    Thank you for your thoughts regarding the above reviews. Of course, you’re absolutely correct in your assessment. There is no way to prove that the positive reviews were counterfeit in any way, shape, or form. It is completely conceivable that there are, indeed, real people named Matt, Marsha, and Sam, and that they were legitimately stunned, amazed, and enjoying clean oxygen, due to you and the cast’s efforts. After all, Toronto is a very large city, filled with patrons of the theatre, all of whom have varying tastes, and who also have the incontestable right to have (and voice) their own opinions.

    But I’m afraid that I, too, have the right to have and voice my own opinion. And my opinion is this.

    That “gap” that exists between the “official” review and some of the raves does, in fact, cause a great deal of suspicion, as well as speculation, consternation, et al.

    I don’t say these things to cast your group in a disparaging light. The truth of the matter is that I made my remarks out of sheer amusement, even warmth and the slightest bit of affection. The practice is certainly not an uncommon one, nor (I feel) one that is particularly villainous. As artists, we are all entrepreneurs, and as such, we sometimes must use subterfuge to get ahead. I assure you that, if I were in a show, I wouldn’t hesitate to create a few positive patrons to improve the buzz of my show.

    I did see your show, Mr. Obsene Writer. And while I cannot say that your material spoke to me, I did enjoy the efforts of the cast, and their dedication to their art. I point out that I use the word “art” without irony or apology. Your group set out with this show to do something that, while I didn’t enjoy, I must admit I found…interesting. Interesting enough to comment on, anyway. This means you got a reaction out of me…which means that (as much as I hate to admit it) your art succeeded. Congratulations.

    But I digress…

    Upon logging onto this website, I did observe the above reviews, and was a bit suspicious of padding. I commented on my suspisicion, and the posting(s) escalated. I do see how this speculation could damage your groups reputation, as well as potential ticket sales. The damage may have been done, but I apologize nonetheless.

    I will not, however, change my opinion. The “gap” that you mentioned is just a little too wide for this old gaffer to buy. But, since I have no proof that anything untoward has occured, I will cease my prattling, tip my hat, and wish you and the rest of Obscene But Not Heard the best of luck in your future endeavors.

    While my tounge remains firmly in my cheek, my respect remains for your efforts.

    I remain, your most humble and obedient servant,

    Mr. Walt Gillespi

    P.S: Seriously, next year, don’t lay it on with a trowel.

  9. Obscene Writer Says:

    I think there is an apology in there somewhere, so I’ll take it and say apology accepted. I will also point out that Nicole is responsible for the majority of the “Ball licking” dialogue. Must give credit where it’s due.


  10. starkist Says:

    I enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would, given the bummer review. The cast has an appealing sense of their own place in the theatrical universe: they don’t take themselves too seriously. They take some real risks too (Circus of Pain) and mostly it pays off.

  11. Kathleen Says:

    This is a tough one. While I have tons of respect for those who take artistic risks, there was one too many risks in this production for me. Certainly, there were very clever moments, but I found the violence too frank. Some who’ve seen this show may say ‘violence? what violence?’. I’m writing of the sketch where Nicole is ‘kicked in the box’– before our eyes, after the audience allegedly voted in favour of witnessing this act. I believe that the warnings for this show should include ‘violence’. I’m not squeamish—I worked in a trauma unit for 10 years, but I don’t want to witness this sort of violence when I go to see a fringe show, and avoid anything that mentions violence. (That said, I do appreciate the humour of the likes of Mump and Smoot). I’m also a feminist, and in a show that spends what seemed like forever discussing licking men’s balls, this scene (where Nicole is kicked) seems even more out of place.

    It may just be that I’m too old, or the wrong gender to have truly embraced this show. The 18-ish year old young man sitting next to me laughed so hard I thought he might fall to the ground.

    While I thank the writers and the cast for pushing out the sides of the envelope, and for making the effort to include Toronto references (I hope that the Mayor sees the show), I think that potential patrons should be warned.

  12. Nicole aka Consumpto Says:

    Hi, this is Nicole of Obscene But Not Heard, and I’d like to review some of these reviews.

    1. Although I understand that there is no way to prove objectively that we didn’t pad our reviews, I will swear under oath in a court of law that we didn’t. I - who vomit blood for 2 and a half minutes every night on stage - am shocked at the dust this thing has kicked up and I will admit that my somewhat naive artist’s feelings are more than a wee bit hurt at the insinuation. You’re right though - if I was to pad my own review I think I would be more balanced about it, which in itself argues for the authenticity of the above writers.

    2. I did write most of the ball-licking lines; and in fact, most of them come from an email I sent to our head writer, arguing for more frankness in the women’s lines, which more accurately reflects how I (and my female friends) speak.

    3. I strongly feel that we will finally have true equality when an audience full of people will unanimously vote to see a woman kicked in the box for her stupidity. If it had been the other way around - no one would have voted against watching a man get kicked in the balls, which is apparently the funniest thing ever, if you trust popular culture.

    Nicole Z
    Obscene But Not Heard

  13. Walt Poddubny Says:

    Hey Nicole I wouldn’t worry too much about the opinions of a couple of people, I definitely enjoyed the show and my feminist friend who was with me thought it was the funniest show she’s seen this Fringe (and take it from me she is one step below radical feminist, hi V!!). Sketch shows are always hit and miss, that’s their nature; every sketch won’t resonate with 100% of the public. I don’t think there’s anything in the world that would get a 100% approval rating.

    Oh and we both voted against you getting kicked in the box.

  14. scott D Says:

    I know the cast. I have slept with all the cast (at different times and including member 4 who did not make the trip), they all owe me money, and I feel that in many ways the show was based on me.

    That out of the way, this is a thinking persons comedy show and while not for everybody (few Fringe shows are) it is worth checking out. I, like many who have seen the show (I also saw it at the 7th annual 1st Fringe of Calgary last year) was a bit surprised by the “official” review. I feel the same way about “Yabu No Naka Distruthted” a show that got a bad review but 100% great public posts. Sometimes reviewers just don’t get it.

    To the cast, a very sexy and smart cast I might add, I say dont sweat it, at least that reviewer won’t be in the Peg.

  15. Mark Says:

    I thought the show was funny, with some hilarious bits and cool performances. I’m a tough comedy audence member. I looked around me and other people were fair wetting themselves in parts. I, too had moments of sheer glee.

    I cant believe folk like “Gillespi” above who calls himself a fellow artist yet finds it okay, even good natured to go online and slag off audience reviews just because he doesnt have proof (sorry gillispy or however you spell it, do I need a passport to log in). If you’ve ever put a show out there or even seen a movie you’ll realise that many formal reviews aren;t even reflective of audience opinion. Sometimes some a tired hack reviewer turns up after seeing fifteen shows, or maybe a good reviewer - that is, good at reviewing a ballet show or a poignant story of family angst with a bit of death and a story arc but completely intolerant or ignorant of what makes good comedy and what comedy is actually for. Maybe the reviewer themself is just locked in a personal struggle with death and angst, or maybe there were so many shows to review they sent the neighbour along to review one show, the retarded kid that stacks the trolleys at the supermarket to review another and to another a stray dog with the ability to push a computer key. My point is, reviewers are often massively at odds with public opinion. So why, when someone gets a break, would you take it upon youself to go online and screw it up? (Not really interested in an answer)


  16. Bev Says:

    Ok, I was a bit skeptical when I was first invited to go to the show when it was at the Calgary Fringe Festival. There were 5 of us that went that night, including my best friend’s 64 year old dad. We all enjoyed it immensely! Take the show for what it is. Yes, it’s offensive, but all in good humor. It is skillfully written and brilliantly executed. I love the shock value!

  17. Ashley Says:

    look this show as the most fantastic show of the fringe. for those of you who are so obsessed with being politically correct and have no time for fun then maybe you should not have enough time to sit in a theater then go home and bad mouth hard working and talented actors. I personally have never laughed so hard at a live performance in longer than i can think of. this show is well written, witty and fantastically performed, yes there is a few parts that may make a person say oh gawd did you see what just happened, did that really just happen? but thats what good performances do they make you think they make you laugh and good or bad they make you go home and talk about it! after seeing this show i laughed the entire way home and then spent all week telling every person i ran into to go and see this show! so do it right no this second go and see the show.. well what are you still reading this for go now!!
    and for those of you reviewers who seemed to be very negatively biased i have nothing to do with the troupe that puts on this wonderful show and i do not see why if some one has something good to say that they are assumed to be members of said group, find something better to do maybe go see this show again only don’t be such a jerk! those of you who did make the show good job and keep on keepin on! thanks for the laughs!

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