Don’t Tell My Dad

Ian Huffam


Chelsea Manders is a very funny woman.

Don’t Tell My Dad, her show playing at Academic Hall, is a collection of satirical songs and jokes held together by a loose autobiographical storyline: the story of how she overcame a well-adjusted middle-class upbringing to become the truly disturbed individual she is today.

Manders’ style of musical comedy is not totally dissimilar from that of YouTube star Bo Burnham: she sings songs about babies experiencing existential angst, love songs for cannibals and polygamists, and even an informative song about historical princesses who suffered unpleasant fates (directed toward her 4-year old niece).

Between songs, Manders reflects on pivotal developments in her life, from her near-drowning at age 2 to a university exchange trip to Paris that resulted in learning how to undress a Frenchman.

While Manders maintains a very matter-of-fact tone for much of the show, there is a certain hint of clowning present that allows her to easily make off-the-cuff jokes with the audience, resulting in a truly unique experience each time.

This show raises a question that applies to lots of people studying the arts: Can you create art even if you haven’t suffered? Manders is completely frank about the facts that she was never a victim of abuse, came from a comfortable middle-class family, and still communicates openly with that family. Despite (or more likely, because of) this she comes across as super-sweet while joyfully singing songs about such topics as whether or not mermen have penises. There are moments where it seems like offensive subject material was chosen for the sake of choosing offensive subject material, but for the most part Manders’ character completely makes up for it.

Ultimately this show stands out as an extremely solid example of musical comedy, although the squeamish should note that this show has quite a bit of raunchy content. Without it, though, it wouldn’t really be a Fringe show, would it?


Upcoming Showtimes: (Venue #3: Academic Hall)


June 25 @ 18:00

June 27 @ 21:30

June 29 @ 12:00