As part of the New Ottawa Critics’ pre-festival Fringe Picks, I selected Rhythm and Burgundy’s The Comeback Tour as one of the three shows I was most excited to see. I am happy to say they did not disappoint at all.
The Comeback Tour is not a theatre show per se, it’s more of an acoustic concert featuring Rhythm and Burgundy’s wonderful comedic songs that skewer topical themes with a healthy amount of absurdity. This absurd sense of humour works best if you know nothing going in, but since we’re here anyway I’ll offer a quick analysis of one of their stronger songs to give you some idea of what to expect.
The song in question, “Which One of Us is Gay?” perfectly captures some of the phenomena that make live performance so engaging: by directly asking the audience to make assumptions based on Kristine Shadid’s and Alli Harris’ appearances/personalities/liking Tegan and Sara, they implicate the audience into the stereotypes that the song ultimately deconstructs through satire. Whether or not it was their intention to write a scathing rebuke of what I’ll call “diet homophobia” in musical form I may never know, but I can tell you that it works really well and it’s hilarious to boot.
Some songs offer a more absurd element than a satirical element, but this works out well since the 60-minute running time of the show is nearly all musical performance – the less topical songs are something of a break. And not all the satirical elements are about subjects as politically charged as homophobia: some subjects include suburban moms, Harry Potter characters, and the internal denial that comes before acknowledging that you said something completely inappropriate.
The transitions between songs are the one place that might benefit from some tightening up – Shadid and Harris go from song to song pretty quickly through some segues that, to be fair, they acknowledge are somewhat awkward. Both have a background in comedic performance (especially improv), so while it falls outside of the realm of songwriting, a loose script in which to place the setlist is very much within their abilities.
The Comeback Tour is an encouraging show from two performers who are constantly on the up-and-up, and their dedication to writing new material when their following is still very much Ottawa-based is a good sign that they work hard for the laughs. Special bonus: Live! on Elgin is the only venue with a licensed bar, so you can drink during this show (you don’t have to, but it helps with, you know, the atmosphere).
A Rhythm and Burgundy production
Written and Performed by Alli Harris and Kristine Shadid
Running Time: 60 minutes
At Live! on Elgin (BYOV A)
Saturday 10 June 10:00pm
Sunday 11 June 4:00pm
Tuesday 13 June 7:00pm
Friday 16 June 10:00pm
Saturday 17 June 8:30pm
Sunday 18 June 4:00pm