A jem rolls performance is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their life. A legend of the Fringe Festival circuit, rolls is back at the Ottawa Fringe with his newest, and quite possibly his funniest, work I, IDIOT. A production that is both quintessential jem rolls and like nothing you’ve seen from him before, this is one spoken-word performance you’ll want to pencil into your schedule.


I, IDIOT is an intriguing look at the many ways humans are confusing, sometimes awkward, and mostly stupid. As rolls puts it himself, “I, Idiot is a me meme”. The piece offers up humorous commentary on the concept of idiocy and how this might be the only thread that connects all 7 billion people on Earth together. Rolls also gives us an amusing exploration of the brain and how this mysterious organ causes both the improbability of memory and the arrogance of stupidity. As a bonus there is interpretive dancing and a Clown jem which are not only comical and absurd moments on stage, but also a first for this solo performer.

Rolls’ performances are always super high energy with him delivering text at mile-a-minute speeds which is honestly half the fun of going. The other half of the fun is listening for his ‘gems’, or, unique lines which could only come from the mind of this comic-poet. Lines like when rolls states that he’s so English that he has “scruples growing on my qualms” are not just visually evocative but hilarious in their accuracy. A common theme throughout this piece is the notion of “Team Idiot” and how idiocy is both humankind’s common thread and our greatest downfall which, without wanting to spoil one of the major questions of the show, also might be the answer to one of life’s biggest questions.

This has become one of my favourite pieces by this particular artist so far. It is decidedly different than his previous shows like The Inventor of All Things and One Man Traffic Jam and, yet, it is still very jem rolls. Though Live! On Elgin might seem like a bit of a journey from the main Arts Court hub, it is well worth the trek. This performer only comes around once a year, so don’t skip out on I, IDIOT!


Written and performed by jem rolls

BYOV A: Live! On Elgin


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