Fake News Fangirl (Third Beat Productions) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Arrive at Fake News Fangirl knowing what to expect, and you’ll walk away impressed. Sharilyn Johnson (Third Beat Productions) puts on one-woman show at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace that’s part memoir, part exposé, and peppered here and there with comedy and the awkward anecdotes of adolescence and early career.

Fake News Fangirl is a both a study in the causes and effects of fandom, and the nature of comedy. A veteran of the celebrity journalism beat with a passion for comedic art, if there’s anybody qualified to tell the tale of Stewart/Colbert fandom, it’s Johnson. Hailing from Winnipeg, Johnson has carved a respectable career for herself in journalism, and she hasn’t shied away from the hard road.

The performance highlights some of her successes – she’s written for CBC Radio’s LOL, and earned a coveted place in elite Daily Show and Colbert writing classes. In a valuable lesson for anyone living in the internet age, she shows us the ways that fandom and the internet have placed some of her successes in jeopardy.

Johnson’s delivery of lines in a breathy, fangirl style will likely bring a smile to anyone who’s experienced the throes of fandom. For everyone else, it’s a great window into a slice of society often confined to internet forums (showcasing a random fan’s pornographic Stewart/Colbert fan art, for instance). Expect a sinking feeling in your gut and a wave of empathy as Johnson relates the horrors of one act of public expression that spiraled out of context and into national headlines.

Sharilyn Johnson has led an interesting life, and Fake News Fangirl will leave you wanting to know a little bit more about her. You’ll wish she had shared the headline she wrote as part of the admissions process to an elite “Writing for the Daily Show” class, as well as a line or two from her successful stand-up routine.

But Fake News Fangirl is memoir first, comedy second. Johnson is naturally funny, and her performance delivers laughs wherever it makes sense. If you want a harrowing personal history delivered with plenty of heart – and perhaps a skewering of traditional views on golden boys Stewart and Colbert – this is one to check out.


  • Fake News Fangirl  plays at Venue #11, Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace (16 Ryerson Avenue near Queen and Bathurst)
  • Show times: July 09 05:45 PM, July 11 06:30 PM, July 12 04:30 PM, July 13 10:30 PM, July 14 08:00 PM
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows