Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

My Fringe

Brain Fighters

Joking Envelope

Written by Joseph Scrimshaw

Producer's website

Kids show (12 and under), Dance, Comedy, Sci-fi/Mystery/Horror

For ages 2+

"MUST SEE...a family-friendly show that tickles the imagination."
-Pioneer Press

"Brain Fighters is another winner from Scrimshaw...the show entertains with physical comedy and Scrimshaw's trademark iconoclastic wit."

"...three of the most gifted comic performers in town...an entirely enjoyable story about imagination, magical thinking and the comedic possibilities of the world as a battleground of limited perspectives."
-Metro Magazine

"Brain Fighters exceeds even its loftiest promise, exhibiting family friendly entertainment that is sure to provoke giggles from the underage set and helpless laughter from the grown-ups...features all the qualities fans of Joking Envelope have come to expect, including eccentric but sympathetic characters, sharp verbal wordplay, and patently ridiculous predicaments."

"The idea of a world where people can transform into other objects is a great one...Scrimshaw's script is loaded, as always, with plenty of clever asides and pointed commentary on the action, including my favorite line so far of the festival..."
-City Pages

"The elegance of David Mann's direction was clear...the kids in the audience loved this show!"

BRAIN FIGHTERS is recommended by City Pages, Vita.MN, MinnPost, Metro Mag and AV Club!

A wizard takes over the world when he discovers the power to turn into anything he can imagine: A T.Rex! A dust bunny! The color puce! So a young hero sets out to save the world--whether it needs saving or not.

A physically inventive, family friendly, action adventure comedy from Joking Envelope--City Pages' Best Original Comedy Company 2011 and the creators of "The Damn Audition"--last year's number one top selling show at the Minnesota Fringe.

Inspired by the wildly creative storytelling and world building style of Japanese Anime, BRAIN FIGHTERS is a morality tale about learning to see things from other people's perspectives. Packed with action, comedy, and very physically active comedy, the show is engaging entertainment for kids and their adults. The show features next to no set or props and instead relies on the inventiveness of the cast and the imagination of Fringe audiences.

BRAIN FIGHTERS is written by and features Joseph Scrimshaw--author/performer of multiple top ten best-selling Fringe shows including 2009's family friendly hit "An Inconvenient Squirrel." The show stars Equity Actor and veteran Guthrie Theater performer, Randy Reyes, and critically acclaimed actress, Mo Perry, making her first appearance in the Fringe Festival in years. BRAIN FIGHTERS is directed by David Mann. David has been a Fringe favorite for years as well as a noted director who has worked for Torch Theater, Park Square, Children's Theater and more.

Joking Envelope--City Pages’ Best Original Comedy Company 2011
Mo Perry--City Pages Best Actress 2010
Randy Reyes--Metro Magazine’s 2009 Keeper Awards
David Mann--Recipient of 2006 Bush Artist Fellowship
“Innovative and irreverent, Joking Envelope demonstrates that comedy and intelligence need not be mutually exclusive.”--City Pages

David Mann
Role: Director
Actor, director, and playwright David Mann recently directed TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at Park Square Theatre, where he has directed several shows. In Fringe 2010 he appeared in Joking Envelope’s THE DAMN AUDITION. Last year he directed MULAN, JR. at Children’s Theatre Company and his play QUEENS OF BURLESQUE was produced at the History Theatre. David received a Bush Artist Fellowship in 2006, and his five one-man shows have been popular in the Twin Cites and across the Midwest. As a director and actor he has worked at the Guthrie, Park Square, and Great River Shakespeare Festival, and he has directed several shows for Torch Theater including THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, and the upcoming TRUE WEST. Apart from theatre, David speaks and conducts workshops with businesspeople on communication technique: www.davidcmann.com. The father of two, David would turn into a quiet breeze if he could.

Mo Perry
Role: Actor
Mo Perry is thrilled to be returning to the MN Fringe as a performer after a couple years as an enthusiastic spectator. Previous Joking Envelope credits include SUPER-POWERED REVENGE CHRISTMAS #1 and SAFE AS HOUSES, and previous Fringe credits include Joseph Scrimshaw's MACBETH'S AWESOME SCOTTISH CASTLE PARTY, Starting Gate Productions' BEYOND THE SIZE OF DREAMING, and TALKING WITH... for In the Basement Productions. Mo writes about food for the City Pages and has a monthly column in Metro Magazine called Mo Perry's Word Circus. She was named Best Actress of 2010 by the City Pages, and will be appearing next in MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE at the Children's Theatre Company. If she could turn into anything, she'd turn into a fierce wind and make really cool designs in the Sahara Desert sand.

Randy Reyes
Role: Actor
Randy Reyes is a notorious Twin Cities theater artist who joined the Joking Envelope mafia last year in THE DAMN AUDITION. Other Fringe adventures include HOW TO CHEAT by Alan Berks and TALL TALE OF A BROKE HEART (writer/director/producer). Randy was named a 2009 Keeper by Metro Magazine, Lavendar Magazine's Co-Artist of the Year 2009, and an Artist of the Year runner up 2010 by The Star Tribune. This fall he'll be playing in Ten Thousand Thing's IL CAMPIELLO and directing THE LARK for Theatre in the Round in January 2011. If Randy Reyes could turn into anything he wanted, he would choose to be his cat, Tilly, cuz she lives large.

Joseph Scrimshaw
Role: Writer/Actor
Joseph Scrimshaw is a critically acclaimed writer/actor/comedian and
the Creative Director of comedy theater company, Joking Envelope.
Joseph has had multiple top ten best-selling shows at the Minnesota
Fringe Festival including ADVENTURES IN MATING, AN INCONVENIENT SQUIRREL and last year’s top selling show, THE DAMN AUDITION. His
show, MY MONSTER, written with Bill Corbett was a smash hit at The
2011 Orlando Fringe Festival. Outside the festival, Joseph and/or his
plays have performed in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, San
Francisco, the UK, Bulgaria, Peru, the middle of the Caribbean Sea,
and various bars across the entire expanse of South Minneapolis. He
also writes for Rifftrax.com and makes jokes on twitter as
@JosephScrimshaw. If Joseph could turn into anything he would become a
squirrel, a monkey, or perhaps, a squirrel-monkey.

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Good Clean Fun
by Hailey Colwell Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Even if you're not one that goes for innocent, clean humor, Brainfighters is a cool and refreshing show. From its simple and balanced design to its playful wisecracks and enjoyably dimensional characters, I'm pretty sure that it's hard for anyone not to like it.

Cool Comic Trio Bring The Funny
by Brian Pettee Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Cool comic trio bring the funny.

7 thumbs up.

Impressionistic concept comedy routines.

Cool character impersonations of a t rex, birds, a rubber ducky, etc.

The "four stages of the hero" presented with wit and charm.

Felt like a rainbow threw up on me...
by Sam Choo Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Turns out I was just happy. The encore was absolutely delightful w/ several belly laughs. I missed having my girls there, because the show was perfect for anyone 2+ - perhaps younger. Great characters & enthusiastic performers delivered a sweet moral wrapped in a hero's quest. Well deserved encore.

Great Family Fun
by Adrianna Kristenzie Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Gotta say, if I had kids I would want to take them to this show. But I don't have any kids... so the heavily censored comedy about friendship and being nice to people wasn't something that I would choose to see. I liked some of the moments on stage, like Joseph pretending to be a T-Rex, but outside of the moments where the actor's were pretending to be objects/animals, the lines were over acted and the story was predictable.

Hugs for Everyone!
by Joyce Spirala Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Brain Fighters is a terrific show!
The writing and direction are crisp, the timing and comedic talent of the actors is fantastic....
AND....you will walk out of the theater feeling quite Happy and Lucky to see this very original show!

The talent of Joseph Scrimshaw, his writing, directing and performances are a treasure for the Twin Cities. With talented Mo Perry and Randy Reyes to play off of, this threesome will leave you craving more!
Great Show! Go see it tonight at 8:30p!

Less IS more
by Dwayna Paplow Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Among all the silly, lovable moments of this shows, I loved it’s minimalism above all else! Relying on verbal and physical hijinks, the actors pull entire action sequences out of thin air. This is a tribute to the power of imagination. Packaged as a action-adventure story. With lots of hugs.

by Ceri Myers Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I loved "An Inconvenient Squirrel" a couple of years ago, and was similarly delighted by Brain Fighters. This is a witty, feel-good romp that draws laughs from kids and adults alike. Linguistic cleverness abounds, particularly in the use of "swear" words (gelato! shindig! pants! Comcast!). Even the characters' names--Tool, Baggage, Cupcake--are tickling. A sweet message, creatively delivered by talented and energetic actors, makes for a winning performance.

funny, imaginative
by Daniel Pinkerton Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A thoroughly charming and imaginative show. I laughed continually. Everyone deserves a big hug!

PS: I put off going to the copy shop to see this. It was totally worth it!

A blast for both adults and kids
by Heather Baldwin Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Scrimshaw does it again! Although it's a big contrast from last year's "That Damn Audition" (as well as much of his other adult-oriented work), his writing and performing is just as funny and intelligent in "Brain Fighters", while being kid-friendly at the same time. The premise, about a fictional Earth-like planet where its inhabitants have the innate ability to change into different forms through mental willpower, is original, and the three main characters are surprisingly multi-faceted. Lots of silly verbal and physical humor from this Dream Team of a cast (Scrimshaw, Perry, and Reyes), yet they are careful to not patronize their audience, either. They are deserving contenders for the Encore slot.

by Kevin McIntyre Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Enjoyed the characters & dialog, also the hugs. Points for the most creative use of "vulgarity" I've seen yet in Fringe. Pants.

Laugh Out Loud Funny
by Michael Merriam Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Good for some laughs. The performances are likeable and energetic!

Fun for the kids
by Jessica Bruehling Cleberg Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Good humor for children under 10. Great professional, classical acting for the mainstream!

Cute, Funny at times, take the kids
by George Adams Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I was a bit bored, and strangely annoyed, but everyone else seemed to be having lots of fun. I'll echo the "take the kids" sentiments. Was hoping for more, myself. Still, it had many moments that made me smile.

by Windy Bowlsby Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I wanted to talk for a minute about children and stories. I may be in the adult sweet spot for this show in that 1. I have a young daughter and I listen to her imaginative stories, and 2. Said daughter is currently obsessed with the films of Hayao Miyazaki. Scrimshaw shared with me that this show was influenced by watching lots of Anime, which can have a decidedly non-linear, just-go-with-it narrative. I've been watching a lot of Anime with my daughter recently, so I had no difficulty slipping into the same mindspace of wonder and narrative.

That the same mind that gave us the biting and bitter DAMN AUDITION could also tell a story my daughter would love is damned impressive.

Also, I think Randy and Mo are adorable.

Pretty Comcasting Cute
by Jason Dalrymple Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
How many of us are old enough to remember the cartoon Animaniacs? What about the Wonder Twins from the cartoon Superfriends? If not, look them up and take the Wonder Twins (sans limitation on their trans-formative powers) and place them in the Animaniacs millieu and you have Brain Fighters.

The script has a good mixture of kid-friendly and adult-kid targeted jokes. At times, it was very clear whose funny bone was the target, which I felt was both good, but took away from any subtlety could have been in an otherwise cute script.

The triumvirate of 'Fighters' delivered well with their timing and physical expressiveness. An imaginative show that does the job for adults and children more than satisfactorily.

Fun Show
by Peter Ross Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I took my kids to this and they liked it although they did get a bit jittery about half way through. Props to the actors for trying to throw in some adult humor. Fun show but a bit forgettable.

So Much Fun...
by Mary Lundberg-Johnson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
If you want to have an hour of fun, this is the play to see. Each character is great - wonderful portrayals using a variety of vocal, facial, and body expression. Cupcake played by Randy Reyes is marvelous - LOVE the rubber ducky. Tool and Baggage also are totally engaging. Great use of imagination throughout.

by Russ Dugger Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I'm one of those Fringers that don't read reviews or descriptions before seeing a show. I go by title and cast alone. So, no, I didn't know this was a show leaning toward the ankle-biter persuasion. And, no, it didn't matter because I was still enjoying it immensely. The cast was full of energy and imagination. It just felt like they were having a great time together and it was a joy to watch. The story was kiddy and cute but there were plenty of "adult" jokes for parents. All in all if you have kids a must see. If you don't have kids and no other interests for the time-slot then check it out!

Blew my face off
by Jesse Field Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
"The journey to become a hero," the power of the imagination, and the fun of word play (diorama!) all in one deceptively modest little story by Joseph Scrimshaw. JS, Mo Perry and Randy Reyes are each big personalities with great energy; all three at once really is a bit like an explosion. I think what I liked most was seeing all the children's faces in the audience, lit up with amusement and interest, and perhaps laying in a positive feeling for the theater that will last a lifetime.

A Perry, Reyes, Scrimshaw by any...
by Patrick Pfundstein Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
...other names (such as Baggage, Cupcake, and Tool) would play just as sweet on the stage. Add in a clever script from a former (and possibly a touch bitter) former photocopy shop employee, and you have a great show that works well across the age spectrum, and gives each of its talented cast plenty of chances to shine. (Some classic Scrimshaw physical humor when Joseph is run head-first into a wall, and when Mo Perry drops the "sharing" line with pitch perfect delivery and timing, and you can actually see it hit Randy Reyes in his endlessly expressive face, you realize this isn't your average kid show cast.) I (and the packed house at Thrust) really loved this show!

Inspired Siliness
by William Beeman Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
These three actors are some of the finest performers in the Twin Cities if not the entire United States. They could make a credit card disclaimer funny. That said, they take a very simple premise about the ability to transform one's self into anything one can envision and turn it into a bit of a social and political fable that is actually profound. On the way, there are delights aplenty and many laughs. This is a gentler show than previous Scrimshaw incarnations, but none the less admirable.

Brain fighters
by Bernard McGarrigle Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Took our grandchildren ages 10 & 14. The 10 yr old felt it was too long, the 14 yr old thought it was great. Both were engaged and enjoyed the humor, and from my perspective had a good message. Promotes family discussion.!

Scrimshaw makes anything work
by Suzanne Sharrock Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Why is it that he can just stand there and it's still funny to me?!! Kind of a thin "plot", but satisfied this customer. Funny, but occasionally a little forced. Kind of thin on plot/jokes etc. but good actors transformed so-so material into funny, amusing show. Very enjoyable.

Yo Gabba Scrimshaw
by Amy Salloway Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I wish I could box up this fun, clever, surprisingly snuggly show and take it with me every time I babysit (which I do rather often...an actor's gotta eat). I didn't realize, going in, that it would be so very kid-oriented, but I didn't mind that it was, and there were enough slightly subversive moments and writing choices to keep me chuckling in a grownup way. Comcast!

by Greg Stevens Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Perhaps I was expecting too much based on Joseph Scrimshaw's reputation, but the story felt forced and moved along at an irregular pace and I fell asleep twice. Unfortunately, a few clever jokes weren't enough to salvage this show.

Brain Fighters
by Jack Silverman Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
This is plainly the most over rated show in the festival. Had high expectations after previous Scrimshaw shows. Acting was good, story was just OK. Not an adult show.

Just plain fun!
by Lisse Regehr Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I wasn't sure exactly what I was in for with Brain Fighters, but I knew I would enjoy it and I wasn't let down. I wish I could get my imagination to kick into gear like this guys does - he always comes up with such fun plays! The actors were wonderful, as always and the energy was very high. I saw this on it's first night and they had such a long line of people waiting to get in to see them, as there should be, b/c this is one of the 'can't miss' shows of the Fringe. Thanks for such a fun hour!

Reminds Me of When I was a Kid
by Sarah Anderson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This show put me in a good mood. The actors seem to be having a blast (Mo Perry is an utter delight), and it’s so innocent and fun, it took me back to my childhood when I could really buy into my own imaginative inventions, when I could half believe that maybe I really could be a superhero if only I put my mind to it. Loses a kitty as the story, in the second half, runs out of steam. A more rousing finish is all the show needs to be something truly amazing (which is how I felt about The Damn Audition, as well).

by Jess Pants Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was fab. If you jumped on board with the actors and used your imagination, it was a lot of fun. We got lucky that the most excited little girl was in the audience on Monday - she really helped things along for an 'adult' like me who didn't bring any kids with. It was still enjoyable on its own merit (because who doesn't love Joe, Mo and Randy?) but hearing the kids enjoying it so much added a lot. Clever script, lots of physical comedy, and a good time was had by all.

Better With Kids
by Sophie Kerman Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
There were some really enthusiastic kids in the audience when I was there, and I wish I had one of them sitting closer to me. While the performers were great and the energy was high, the script relied too much on narration for me to really get into it. But if there were more kids around me, I'm pretty sure I could've gotten on board,

I wished I was a 5 year old!
by Sara Lahti Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I enjoyed hearing the kid's laughter in the audience. And at moments I was soaring through the skies with these characters in this crazy world they had created. The performances were spot on. But at many moments I didn't get that extra kick of suspension of disbelief that I was looking for. Definitely clever ideas. I think this could be the beginning of something even better.

I would completely recommend this for any child!

The best kind of laughter
by Maria Keith Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The laughter of the kids in the audience made the show a wonderful experience.

Happy Storytelling
by Bill McTeer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This show is an absolute charmer. Three actors show and tell a story of magical transformations and how hard it is for everyone to find their place in the world (and for the world to find a place for everyone). Five kitties for the kids, four for adults.

Just a little kitty short of five
by Gregory Abbott Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Brain Fighters was a fun show. The actors were great, the concept was wonderful to follow. But it needed a little more "showing" than telling. It could have been a much better show if done as a straightforward play (more like Inconvenient Squirrel). Instead, the stopping and starting and actors telling us what happened took me out of the story. It's like your Grandfather telling you a great story, but stopping along the way to tell you about World War II when he served KP duty. I wanted to give this five, but the flow wasn't there this time around.

Scrimsaw, scion of silliness
by Matlisa Semrad Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
One of his best shows yet, my son couldn't stop immitating it last night. At least one child slipped into a state of giggling hysterics and a few adults too.

What the pants, Scrimshaw?
by Scott Pakudaitis Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
How Joseph Scrimshaw could write a show about people who use their brains to turn into anything they want and not have anyone turn into a squirrel baffles me. Regardless, this is an excellent kids show with enough pop culture references to make it enjoyable & fun for adults too. Last time I checked, rule 34 had nothing to do with sarcasm...

by Kari Olson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Crazy, off-the-wall, heart-warming, hilarious! My favorite part involved a hand-held mixer and mixing bowl (and the child delightedly giggling in the audience). Go see it and you'll see what I mean!

Brain T(h)rust
by Rick Treece Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is exactly what I go to Fringe for: clever script, ingenious performance, but above all off the wall.

and Creative and Full of Lots of Hugs
by Liz Blank Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
It seems like there is an acting lesson going on in this gig. This is an upbeat positive program with many interesting twists. The performance I went to I was super funny when a child burst into giggles after, I think the lines where, “I Hate You”!!!! You could see them cracking up on stage, but they didn’t skip a beat.

Pleasingly cute, with hug sauce
by Elise Heise Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Many times while watching the show, I felt as if a rainbow had barfed on me. Fortunately, I'm told this means I felt happy, and that's a good word to use for this show -- happy. During the performance I thought "Scrimshaw does Shrek," by which I mean this is a show to bring the kids to and while they'll enjoy it and the great silliness that unfolds, parents get plenty of nods in the layered humor.

If Kids Fringe still existed
by Cato Brutus Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
This show would be at the top of the list. Well acted, but oh so repetitive and not particularly clever. Bring your grade school kids, but if you don't have any, bring a pillow.

Imagination Rocks!
by Linda Norcross Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Take your partner, take your kids, take your grandparents...this show is for everyone. How many ways can you say cute? Being that I'm always looking for more edginess, I was pleasantly surprised that I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely bit of escapism into the incredible world of language and imagination. Kudos to the cast whose energy was infectious

Come for the comedy, stay for the hugs!
by David McKay Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
We all often need a reminder to unleash our imaginations and let our spirits soar. This inspired show invites you fly to the mountaintops, romp around with dinosaurs, and indulge your inner child with a tale of magic and adventure. These performers are adept at the art of contorting, twisting, and morphing into an unbelievable range of hilarious shapes that will make you perspire in empathy.

Don't be afraid of large lines as that space is huge and the show is worth the wait!

Lots of fun for the whole family
by Krystal McKay Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show was fun for me, and even better for my three and five year old nephews. They were simply spellbound. They laughed and giggled all the way through. As soon as the show was over they asked if we could see "another one just like it".

I am a happy audience member- NOW!
by Tanya Juarez-Sweeney Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I loved this performance! The story was entertaining and the actors did a superb job! I brought my 6 and 8 year old to the Friday performance and they haven't stopped talking about it. It inspired some incredibly fun imaginative play and also some new "names". Thank you Cupcake, Baggage, and Tool for spreading the spark of creativity to "Warehouse and "Cherry Blossom"- and to many of their friends in the neighborhood!

Imagination at it's Best!
by Richard Perry Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
The ability to keep hundred of people, young and old, entertained for an hour is a testament to the writing ability of Joseph Scrimshaw and the acting ability of all three performers! Unfortunately, it requires the audience to have an imagination. By reading some of the reviews, it appears not all have one. I loved it.
An Old One

Loved this show!
by deborah ledwidge Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Although much is being made of the "kids show" designation, I think the show's entertainment rests with its clever script and amazing physicality of the actors, and so is great fun for adults too. It was a joy to watch. I laughed out loud throughout the show, and loved the movement. It is a testimony to Joseph's versatility as a writer. In these days of calamity on so many fronts, this is a breath of fresh air.

Great cast, cute show
by Shannon Troy Jones Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Here's the skinny: You know these actors, and you love them. It's a cute kids show. The thing that makes it wear a bit thin is that it hangs on one gimmick. In their world, these characters can turn into anything they want by imagining what it would be like to be that thing. For instance, "I am a Tyrannosaurus Rex... NOW!!!" It's cute for a while, but some of the physicalizations are a bit vague. For instance the tornado looks a lot like the strong wind (storm?) looks a lot like the inflatable balloon man with his arms flailing in the air. Randy Reyes's impersonation of a Rubber Ducky, on the other hand, was priceless. It would be interesting to see what a physical theatre troupe like Live Action Set would do with that concept.

I could write this in my sleep
by Chrisitian Novotny Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
Throw a bunch of quirky words together to create jokes and you have 99% of the comedy coming out of this show ... unique concept and had potential but falls short as it doesn't feel like a journey is actually made and the audience could hardly care about the overcoming adversity that "cupcake, baggage, and tool" (seriously those are the character's names look how quirky and funny that is) are faced with ... there is no reason this show should be selling out while other more compelling theatre is struggling here at the fringe and some are child appropriate

by Publius McGee Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
I was one of those who fell asleep. I am older than 5. That is probably enough said.

Sadly Lacking
by Carol Rudie Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Because of the author and cast, this show was on my "must see" list. After previous experiences with Scrimshaw efforts, I expected, perhaps, too much. This effort at a kid's show simply did not live up. The story became less and less convincing as time went on. The actors worked hard, but the material simply wasn't there. Although I didn't come with a child, I began to notice that the children around me didn't seem much involved either.

Fringe-tastic Fun
by Dawn Brodey Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I loved this show! The actors totally committed; painting vivid pictures with little more than their talent and a fearless script. As has been said many times - this is not a show to miss! Incidentally, I also just saw Randy's other Fringe show 'The Duites and Responsibilities of Being a Sidekick' at the Gremlin. Another fabulous performance and taken together has earned him a new fan!

A very solid effort.
by Jack LaMarr Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
To be honest, this isn't my FAVORITE Scrimshaw Fringe presentation ever, but nevertheless. Credit is due for making a very good run at creating a presentation that's both family-friendly, and will still keep the attention of the grownups. It suffers a bit for trying to ride that fence, but not too much. Energy, dedication, slapsticky physical performances and gags aplenty. Recommended. 4 kitties.

A fun romp for the whole family
by Sharon Kahn Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
An endearingly goofy take on the "Two Magicians" ballad, set in a world much like our own except that "gelato" and "comcast" are naughty words. Oh, and if you concentrate hard enough you can transform into anything your mind can conceive, a technique discovered one day by a bored copy store employee. Soon everyone is doing it and hilarity ensues. 

It really is hilarious for about 20 minutes as Joe Scrimshaw and Randy Reyes show off their prodigious talents at physical comedy and rapid fire wise cracking. But there is just so far you can take a single joke, and eventually it wears a little thin. It's not a bad show (Scrimshaw's first transformation alone is worth the price of admission) but not the best work these guys have done. A great choice for a family with kids aged 6-12, but fell short of the mark for this longtime Scrimshaw fan. 

Safe, Forgettable, Not meeting potential
by Aaron Sawyer Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
Children's theatre can be a powerful funny and uplifting experience for adults and kids alike. This show was safe and easy. The performers never committed to their performance to really capture the magic youth theatre can hold, and the script was cheap. I was bored and forgot that I'd even seen the show (one of six so far) until someone reminded me. Forgettable.

Not for little kids
by Katie Knutson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I was a performer long before I became a mom. Now I wear two hats when seeing a kids show.

The theater artist in me loved the use of humor in this show. There were plays on words and jokes that came back in various ways throughout the show. (I've come to expect this from Joseph.) All three actors are skilled in physical comedy, and it shows. I agree with some of the other reviewers in that the script dragged a bit, especially in the last half, and could be cut considerably.

As a parent, I am very glad I did not bring my 3-year-old son to this show. This show would be appropriate for ages 8 and up (and really mature younger kids who can watch people who aren't being nice to each other on stage, and not replicate it at home). One character tells his mom that he hates her, and the word stupid is used at least 3 times. I know these are minor things, but anyone claiming that a show is appropriate for 2-year-olds has to have taken these things into consideration. This show is also too long, and moves too slowly for the little ones.

Who should see it? Anyone over the age of 8 who wants to laugh and see some talented physical actors with great comedic timing, and who can sit through some slower parts.

A romp of imagination
by Richard Jackson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Watching this show, I felt like I was watching 3 kids playing make believe. High energy, wonderful physical work and Scrimshawian humor delighted the crowd.

I am a Theatrical Reviewer... Now!
by Kale Ganann Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Joesph Scrimshaw turns in another kid's show, and the result is great fun. In a world where anyone can be anything, a young Tool becomes the ruler of eveything by virtue of being more imaginative than anyone else. But his dominance is challenged by a young hero who may be more open-minded than he realizes... Hugs abound as everyone tries not to say the word "Pants" in Brain Fighters.

Funny but needed to be shorter
by Mark Goldberg Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I ama fan of Joseph Scrimshaw's work, and knew this was one of the plays I had to see this year.

To be honest, I was mildly disappointed. It was funny at first but the jokes became repetitive after a while. Yes, seeing Scrimshaw imagine turning into a T-rex with tiny arms is amusing once, but aeeing variations on that theme for 45 minutes grew stale.

The perfect audience for this play would be kids 6-12. I think it would be a great introduction for parents who want to bring their chidlren to Fringe. For adults, it is funny but I have seen Scrimshaw do better work

Too much of a good thing?
by Florence Brammer Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
As this show started, I thought it was very charming and engaging. These are three very engaging local talents, and they give it their all. However, after about 25 minutes, the thrill was gone for me. It really would be much better as a 30-minute show. There was way too much dozing and watch-checking in the audience for a Scrimshaw show with this kind of talent involved.

Seemed like improve but with less energy
by Stuart Chmielewski Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
I wasn't satisfied with this show. There was a lot of movement and shouting, but the energy behind it all did not seem sincere. It definitely had some good points, (Pretty astute to say Comcast is a dirty word!) but it felt like the script had been improvised the night before and they were trying to recreate it from memory. The jokes seemed to alternate between pleasing kids and pleasing adults, but there weren't enough that pleased both to keep the pace from dragging.

Glad I decided to see this
by Bruce Rehberg Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
On a last minute whim and a little extra time, I decided to see this show. I'm very glad that I did. Very cleverly written and performed. Baggage, Tool and Cupcake transported us to another world where "pants" (along with other common words) is a dirty word and they learn to transform themselves into anything from there the adventure begins. The characters' stories intertwine and smoothly augment each others' tales.

The actors work well together and from the audience laughter, I'd say bring the family to this one!!

Great Physical Work!
by Scott Gilbert Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Baggage, Cupcack and Tool all did so great physical work on this one. (Have you ever tried to become the color orange?) My 13 year old daughter said that this was her favorite show of the day (we saw 6), but I found it lacking the normal Scrimshaw flair. It was not up to the standards that I have come to expect from th work of such a talent. The script seemed to basic and I think even though it was shooting at a younger crowd it could have had a wider spread to the buckshot.

Playful fun and a little satire, too.
by Anna Amyx Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I always enjoy Joseph Scrimshaw's work at Fringe and elsewhere, and this show is no exception. The acting was terrific and I laughed a lot! The centerpiece of the show is the child's game of make-believe, and the show is definitely something kids would enjoy (based on the reactions of the ones sitting near us). Yet, like a good Sesame Street sketch, the script works very well for adults, too. To be honest, I would like to give this show 4.5 kitties, because it happens that I liked The Damn Audition better. Nevertheless, unless you hate comedies, I would certainly recommend this show!

Clever by more than half
by Denise Musser Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
My first Fringe show and I was not disappointed. Engaging comedy that spans generations -- allowed me to ride the laughs spanning from being a mom to being a kid again. Wished I could have joined the actors on stage!

Clever and funny
by Christine Bremer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A very funny show with three characters, no set, and both physical and verbal humor.

Check Out the Big Brains!
by David Dworkin Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This is a very strong show with just a few flat spots. Joseph wrote the kind of material that lets actors really strut their stuff and his comic chops are as good as anybody’s. The material is both clever and funny with frequent and effective use of callback. My only complaint isn’t about the show; it’s about the promotion of it. They say this show is for ages 2+. Unless you have an exceptionally well-behaved and perceptive child, don’t even think about bringing him or her to any theater but an empty one. But older children will love this show…and you will, too!

A good laugh and a smile
by Chris Kemp Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Scrimshaw proves you can be clever and funny at the Fringe without four letter words. This is a silly show with some good laughs. The cast takes the simple story and makes it their own. If you can't find a laugh in this show what the pants is the matter with you!

I wish I had more kitties
by Corwin Amyx Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A very child-like play, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. A common children's game was wonderfully incorporated in to a story, with some jokes for big kids too.

Fun romp with one nasty surprise
by Beth Wright Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
The high quality of the cast really shone through this lighthearted fantasy story. Most of the jokes were funny and entertaining, with the glaring exception of the reference to someone having bipolar disorder. Really, you had to go there? A classic example of lazy writing and nonsensical, insensitive humor. People with bipolar are constantly treated badly in our society; they don't deserve to be the butt of a throwaway, stupid joke. I was disappointed by it to say the least. I hope Scrimshaw rewrites the line.

Hilarity for most ages
by asha sharma Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Husband, I, and 8 year old nephew enjoyed this bit of delightfully silly fun but 5 year old was a little young - but still something for everyone with pratfalls, clever wordplay, energetic acting, and an imaginative, well-written script. Still,it dragged a bit towards the end, and would have liked more variety -- of incidents, costuming, etc. Rohan, 8: "Liked the funny parts." Kiran, 5: didn't like when they were fighting but liked it when they got along.

by Lee Silverstein Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Hope you see this late in the run because it is perfect and will ruin your experience of every other show. Well written, fun and perfectly acted. Two thumbs up, 10 out of 10. LMS

Family Fun
by Charles Hubbell Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
It's a funny, silly, slapstick story of imagination and friendship. If I had a family I would take them to this show. As it was I saw it by myself and still had a good time. Scrimshaw never ever fails to make me laugh out loud and that's why I chose Joking Envelope as my first show of the Fringe.

Cast As Good As Ever!
by Emily Antin Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I knew I'd like the cast because I loved their show last year. This year did not disappoint. If you've never seem a show by them go! But get there early because tickets go fast!

Entertaining and Original
by James Coleman Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I found the concept and approach of this show to be very original. The characters were entertaining and the actor who played them displayed an abundance of talent for the physical as well the oral aspects of the piece. The imaginative use of "props"(themselves) was a great part of the show.

Very Fun but not SQUIREL FUN
by EJ WJ Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Great, energetic and snappy. The whole family enjoyed it and the dialog was quick, and energetic antics fun to watch. We were driven here by our love of the inconvenient squirrel...we weren't disappointed, but the expectations were maybe a tad too high. Great job to Tool Cupcake and Baggage!

Made me wish I was a kid again
by Beth Kinderman Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The three talented actors who perform Brain Fighters really carry this production. It's heavy on the physical comedy (most of it very entertaining) with a side of clever wordplay. I saw a lot of kids in the audience who seemed to love the show, though the squeaky clean humor and straightforward plot of the production may leave adults with less to engage with. Still, this will be a huge win for families attending Fringe together, and as an adult attending without kids I still felt it was a ticket well purchased.

Light and Amusing
by ian felton Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The kids sitting next to me seemed to enjoy it. They were probably about four. The boy on his father's lap was so excited he was thrashing about with laughter. Good news if you are four.

As an adult with no kids, it was still a fun time. The punch-counter-punch of concepts/poses delivered the most enjoyment for me (and probably the kids, too).

Good time, but keep an eye out for a seat where you won't get thrashed on.

Well Written and Fabulously Paced
by Michael Sheeks Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
No surprise that this is a well crafted show with fabulous performances. Awesome family friendly fare.

Love me some Scrimshaw
by Amy Bonifas Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Tightly written, wonderful and cohesive cast. Good story that borders on the favorable side of twee as it skirts being prescriptively moralistic. So many funny lines I can't remember all the ones I wanted to. VERY weird flow getting into the venue.

Joking Envelope delivers!
by Max Wojtanowicz Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Mo, Joe and Randy are having a ton of fun in this delightful show that will charm everyone. Kids in the audience I was at were having a ball. Hilarious and heartwarming! Nicely done, folks!

Always a winner
by Patricia Lindgren Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Great show for my two tweens. They were higly entertained for 50 min. It started out really strong, but seemed to run out of steam right before it ended. Scrimshaw has the most expressive face, and is always worth the price of admission

I am a happy fringer . . . NOW
by Matilda ZombieQueen Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A funny, well-paced piece by three actors who play well together (and, one assumes, don't run with scissors). Great physical comedy for big and little kids.

Worth seeing
by Brooke Hart Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Three superb actors, who I would see in anything. The script is silly, and silly of this sort isn't usually my thing, but it was fast-paced and satirical and so very fun.

Witty, great for kids, silly fun.
by Matt McEntire Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Overall, a cute and clever show. The funniest parts were the characters transforming themselves into objects that would seem impossible to act out, but well done. Wouldn't call it spectacular, but definitely good show for silly humor. No question, Scrimshaw is doing what he is naturally gifted at.

This show is worth the line-up
by Jimmy Desimone Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A great show for everyone, especially kids which it is largely geared to. There are plenty of bits that are for the adults that will safely sail over the younger kids heads, so everyone should go. It is put together very well, and well-acted. The cover-alls are very crisp looking. Very fun. Seems lots of people believe Joe Scrimshaw is a must-see at the Fringe festival, and this bears it out. Although I personally don't believe that.

by Jennie Eckholt Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
This show wasn't a gut wrencher, but it was cute and fuzzy. Not my favorite show at the Fringe so far but worth the money!

flights of fancy
by Vicki Joan Keck Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
A crackerjack cast & director and a practically sold out 400 plus seat auditorium - what's not to like? Somehow, though, my mind wandered and I found myself dozing off at 7 pm on a Friday. Maybe I should blame it on the nosebleed seat I had on the far edge of the theatre so it felt like I was watching their backs most of the time. Maybe it just needed a smaller space to really engage the audience. Maybe it's just me....

I'm a happy fringer...Now!
by Kristi Lawless Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Hilarious fun. I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy a show "for ages 2+" but it was great!

What is the target audience?
All ages

Am I an age?
Yes, yes I am. (approaching 50-gah)

Did I enjoy this show?
Loved it!

by Ian Anderson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The show was a bit more cutesy than typical Joking Envelope things I've seen, but funny nonetheless. This was the first show I saw at this year's Fringe and it was a great start for my festival.

by Jesse Jacob Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Joking Envelope is hilarious, as usual. I saw this show with two other adults and we laughed our butts off, but now I can't wait to take my friends with kids to see it this week!

Reliable Clever Fun
by Nanette Stearns Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Scrimshaw's shows tend to be among the most consistently funny in the Fringe. This year's was also very clever, well-written. And it included Mo Perry, one of my favorite actors. Physical, laugh-out-loud comedy and, as others have said, a good choice for kids. Don't be dismayed by the long lines - the Thrust theater is huge and they generally open up the balcony.

Good clean fun, diorama it!
by Will Weisert Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Who needs edgy humor when you have these three saving the world from jerks?

Joseph Scrimshaw has pulled an interesting concept out of his hat, keeping it family friendly without sacrificing laughs, then turned it over to a very capable cast who have mined it for all it's worth.

Randy Reyes and Scrimshaw do what they do best with Reye's enthusiastic innocence balancing Schrimshaw's snarkiness. Mo Perry deftly weaves herself in and out of that dynamic, keeping the story on track.

Had to leave early
by David Erickson Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Brought my 4 year old son, found a roomful of mostly adults, for a show rated "2+". He squirmed around so much we had to leave almost immediately. I suppose anything without sex, violence, or swearing can purport to be appropriate for the preschool set.

Humor (after about 8 minutes in) seemed to be the usual assortment of antics punctuated by hyperbole and glibness that local performers crank out year after year. Maybe I'm just too old and my son is too young.

We enjoyed the show
by Chris Friedlieb Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Fun little fable... perfectly performed! When we left the Rarig, we saw lots of kids practicing Brain Magic!

Very clever
by Michael Lewis Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Since this is a Joseph Scrimshaw show, it easily filled the gap in my schedule tonight. Very funny and clever. I wasn't prepared for it to be as family friendly as it was, and I wished I had brought my 7 year old son with me. I'm going to try to bring him back tomorrow and see it again. Great fun, great timing, and super clever dialog.

Cute, but definitely geared for kids
by Andrew Brown Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Very imaginative. Kids will adore it, but the wit isn't as strong for adults. Disney throws more for adults than this did for me.

the night of the living scrimshaw, pt 2
by Mark Browning Milner Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
wonderful! pirandello meets viola spolin meets joseph campbell meets 50s sci-fi meets the wacky imagination of joseph scrimshaw. david mann's direction is a big star, making this delightful but potentially confusing script clear as could be. this was the biggest line for a show yet and bodes to be the "must-see" show for the fringe. i'd recommend as the week goes on you might want to get reservations for those last couple of shows - this one will probably be selling out.

Not Your Grandfather's "Scanners"
by David Rust Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I genuinely love Joking Envelope. This production company consistently turns out brilliant performances and stellar writing. Randy Reyes, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Mo Perry play off of each other perfectly. Their timing is impeccable. No one can engineer a humorous pause like Scrimshaw.

There were a couple times when I could not quite make out what was said (over either laughter or the echoes in the Thrust setting) but that wasn't really a problem caused by the performers.

No, this story of beings from another world -a world remarkably like this one- who have learned how to change into anything they can truly envision and understand with their "Brain Magic", is engaging from start to finish. No single character is without their flaws and each of them is compelling in their own way.

I definitely can't wait to bring my nieces to see this show. I kept looking around me in the audience to see youngsters with their parents, laughing as much as the adults.

All-around fun!

by Kay Snyder Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Imaginative script but the story line was a little hard to follow. If you can forgive that problem there is some really great physical comedy and some wonderful premises and lines in the show. You'll be interested and amused until the end.

Seriously. Only fun for kids.
by re gurgitate Follow this reviewer
Rating 1 kitty
Adults need not apply. Repetitive, boring, not terms I'd typically apply to a Scrimshaw show. I found myself falling asleep by the halfway point. A lackluster effort, left me very disappointed.

Even a Tool needs hugs
by Fringivitis Vulgaris Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
This kid-focused show has plenty of laughs for the adults. Good thing, since the lines for this show are extra long. Joseph Scrimshaw channels slackerdom, Mo Perry is a Nice Lady, and Randy Reyes is one heroic pastry. Together they fill an hour quite pleasantly.

My brain was fighting to stay awake
by David Trudeau Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Brilliant concept, great writing and funny funny actors doing this for 30 minutes tops would be perfect. But the monotony of the premise joke repeated over and over for an hour is general anesthesia. I finally kept myself awake by counting the people sleeping in the two rows behind me - there were seven pairs of closed eyes on nodding heads among twenty or so, and the others were mostly gazed over.

Fighting Off Disappointment
by August Berkshire Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
The beginning of this show was more funny than not, though rarely rising to the level of hilarity. But my 4 kitty rating sank to 3 kitties as I nodded off while the evening and the play wore on. The interruptions and descriptions meant to grease the wheels of the production served more as speed bumps. Some fine acting talent not matched by the script.

Opening night filled three-quarters of a large venue and many people in the audience seemed to really like the play. Me, not so much.

Pants'n great!
by Mark Caron Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is theater at its best. Brilliant writing performed brilliantly. Very original concept that captivated me (adult, 55) as well as the giggling kids in attendance. Smiled the whole time. So good it feels like a gift - thank you Joseph Scrimshaw and crew!

Something NEW!
by Larry Ripp Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show is Fresh, Fun, and FULL of ideas. I loved it like a cupcake. (Inside joke. See the show!) Everything works with this presentation and you get the feel that you are in VERY good hands. Solid FUN! I left feeling Very good and I think you will too. GO!

Pure Fun
by Sheila Smith Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Very fun hour of well written silliness suitable for kids and adults with a sense of humor. Will make you want to try turning yourself into a bird. Or a dinosaur. Loved that the word "Comcast" is a swear word. We recommend!

by Kassie Church Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
It was wonderful. Great story telling, fun story, and good characters. Good for kids and adults alike.

Solid, right on enjoyment
by dean seal Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I've been a fan of Joe Scrimshaw falling down on stage for a long time. That skill is now developed into a three person pratfall symphony, with physical surprises throughout. A solid groove of commercial success is nailed into place in this show. I am looking forward tosomething longer in the off-fringe season.

Dioramically Awesome!
by Kari Pederson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show is amazing. It is a well-written, insanely creative, energetically executed big bucket of Awesome that you need to fit into you Fringe Experience. And bring your kids! I was sitting near two little girls who laughed like crazy people the entire time and it was cheering to my heart. My favorite show so far!

Energetic and Kinetic
by Bill Fricke Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Brain Fighters is fast paced, energetic and cleverly funny. Themes of imagination, open vs. closed mindedness, and "The Hero's Journey" wrapped in inventive movement, and very good humor. As a former copy store employee, I can wholeheartedly agree, yes.. they ARE evil!

Brain Fighters
by judy garza Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A Scrimshaw tour de force. In his unique style, laughter and whimsy are brought to the stage. The actors were very colorful in their representations of wind, T rex, mixing bowls.

It's a no brainer that you have to see this one.

Randy Reyes, as usual, is wonderful

You can't go wrong with Joe Scrimshaw
by Naomi Kritzer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Another well-written, well-performed, extremely funny play (that has some underlying depth). Well worth seeing.

Something for everyone
by Andrea Howell Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This is a creative, delightful show that will start selling out. Go soon.

by Michele Jansen Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Yes, I laughed a lot. Randy Reyes' is fearless in his physical humor. Mo Perry, wonderful as usual, and the writing of Joseph Scrimshaw, witty and brilliant. Must see for a really fun time. The kids will love this one, too.

Kinda clever banter
by Alan Farnham Follow this reviewer
Rating 2 kitties
But I took nap half way through. It was a little too family friendly cute banter for my taste. If you still love Puke and Snot at the Ren Festival then you will like this show too.

Pretty Good
by Mark Long Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Not up to Joe's usually astronomical standards, but good for kids--better for kids than adults actually.

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Friday, 8/57:00 p.m. 
Saturday, 8/64:00 p.m.This performance is audio described
Monday, 8/85:30 p.m.This performance is ASL interpreted
Wednesday, 8/107:00 p.m. 
Saturday, 8/134:00 p.m. 
Sunday, 8/148:30 p.m. 

U of M Rarig Center Thrust venue information
330 21st Ave. S, Main Floor

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