Fringe at 20: Eric Balchunas
Name: Eric Balchunas
Type of Artist: Theater (comedy)
Fringe shows I’ve participated in: Wawapalooza (2008), Wawapalooza 2: Get Shorti (2009), Wawapalooza 3: The Dark Roast (2010), Wawapalooza 4: Damaged Goods (2011), Wawapalooza 5: Under Destruction (2012), Wawapalooza 6: The Great Almost (2013).
First show I produced/created at the Fringe: 2008. The highlight was having a sold out show during our first year. I honestly thought the audience would be my mom and a few of the cast members’ friends.
The Fringiest show, venue, action, or moment I ever experienced: The Red Room at Society Hill Playhouse right off South Street. We did our show there five out of the six years, and to me it is perfect Fringe space because it is sort of half comedy club, half theater space with tiny, shared dressing rooms. Plus, the audience gets a free beer or wine with every ticket, which helps make any Fringe show better.
Artists I have met or was exposed to in the Fringe who I went on to collaborate with: Tom Tirney, another local writer. We’re still friends today. And also some folks in the sketch comedy world.
The craziest idea for a Fringe show I wish I had done or to one day do: Had an idea for a show called Baseball Is the Anti-Christ which comedically and provocatively deconstructs why baseball isn’t just boring but possibly an act of aggression against humanity. It’s Nietzsche meets Pete Rose and would and feature monologues, ppt presentations, video and sketches. Would be perfect for the Fringe.
Fringe notes: I love that the Fringe accepts any show. I was not connected to the Philly theater world in any way, but was able to convert my reverse culture shock from moving from NYC to South Jersey into a show(s) and have it put into a festival with an organized box office and marketing effort. It allows artists or anyone really to make a mini-dream come true.