Comedian Jean-Paul Is living high on the Fringe

Caribbean Humour Is Winning In The Fringes
By Stephen Weir - Caribbean Camera

After a week of non-stop plays the annual Toronto Fringe Festival has a run-away comedy hit with a Caribbean Canadian connection.  Coconuts, Cedar Trees and Maple Leaves starring Trinidadian born comic Jean-Paul and Lebanese funnyman Habib Siam has been sold out almost every performance for the past six days, and patrons are being turned away!
“Right after our preview performance last week, the show has been sold out – it is a small venue and they have had to turn away people,” Jean-Paul told the Camera.  “Before we did our first performance, I thought this would be a one-off thing.  But the response has been so so good, we are looking at taking this out to other cities and other festivals.” 
“This is a lot of fun and a much different experience for us in terms of the people taking in the show. They see our performance as theatre, which is a long way from Improv in a comedy club.”
 Coconuts, Cedar Trees and Maple Leaves” is a story about culture, identity, and friendship that emphasizes individual experiences over generalized narratives. Habib Siam is a Lebanese immigrant to Canada who completed a Ph.D. at McGill University before committing to comedy. Jean Paul was born in Trinidad and moved to Canada as a youth. His comedy has taken him to unexpected places, including Jerusalem. He has written for the CBC, with Russell Peters, and was nominated for a Juno award. 
“As comics we tell our life stories. I came to Canada when I was young.  So I talk about growing up, fitting in and becoming a Canada.  Habib has a different story but as immigrants there are so many similarities in our stories,” said Jean Paul. “My 35-minutes is always changing. There are core points I want to cover, but what I do tonight will not be the same as tomorrow’s 80 minute show.”
The two men are on stage every night to July 15 at Sarah’s Café and Bar (1426 Danforth Avenue) in Toronto.
The Toronto Fringe Festival, now in its 30th year is the largest theatre festival in Ontario. There are 150 shows in this year’s at 45 venues.
 Two More Fringe Gig Recommended By The Caribbean Camera
A few years ago you might have spotted Tymisha (Tush) Harris dancing behind the Justine Timberlake and the rest of members of the Boy band N*SYNC, or later as a backup dancer for Lyte Funkie Ones (LFO), or briefly on Netflix in a few blood splatter movies.
For the week in Toronto the Orlando based singer and dancer is no longer a second banana on stage - although bananas strategically place in her costume keep her one-woman play Josephine from being R-rated.
This award-winning off-Broadway musical tells the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, the first African-American international superstar and one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century. Josephine shatters stereotypes of race, gender roles and sexuality in this intimate, charming and haunting cabaret show about Baker escaping American racism to sing, dance (often nude) and perform in Paris.  The 60-minute show plays day at the Randolf Theatre (736 Bathurst St) to July 14
Movin’ Melvin Brown
The Texas based singer, has done it all.  Since his start in the early 50s he has been a soul singer, jazzman, tap dancer, male stripper, singing telegram artist and a US army private.
Now at the age of 73 he travels the world performing his life story at fringe festivals and summer theatre.Brown channels the singers who have influenced him over the decades including the king of rock'n'roll, Chuck Berry! This is show that truly moves. 
Movin’ Melvin is mixed with the dance and tap routines that have won Brown a faithful following worldwide.  Each show Brown brings up a female from the audience and gives her taste of his stripper days – he has the body of 40-year old, but wisely never takes off his underwear.
Between the music, the tap and the peeling Brown recounts the racism he has faced in his life. When the Camera saw the show he ended the almost two-hour revue with a long soulful thanks to Canada for being so polite and such an open society.

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