Anesti Danelis: Six Frets Under, a site-specific one-man musical comedy show presented by Danelis at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival at the Tranzac Club Tiki Room, returns the singer-songwriter to the stage after 2017’s hit, Songs For A New World Order. Danelis, wryly noting that he was competing with a raucous punk show in the bar’s main space — thankfully, this stopped soon after he began — also informs us that he’s not tweeting with the gadget in front of him, but running his own tech because nobody would help him. Luckily, he seems easily capable of doing it all himself.
A whirlwind of self-deprecating and absurd musical humour, Six Frets Under is an endearing, hilarious tour through the strange corners of Danelis’ mind. Danelis is curious about a lot of things, and, by his own admission, has said a lot of stupid stuff in his time. These qualities have become fodder for catchy tunes that had the audience howling. His stated goal is to leave us all with “a little less existential dread,” and I think he succeeded.
Danelis’ observational humour is offbeat and avoids predictability. I appreciated that I didn’t always know where the jokes were going, but that they made perfect sense anyway. He’s able to twist a phrase or idea in more than one way, flipping it twice for one impact and then another. He’s also a bit of a one-man band, playing not only the guitar, but the piano and violin (not all at once). His voice is pleasant, and his delivery practiced and deadpan — except when he occasionally makes himself smile with a joke, which is quite charming.
Most of his repertoire involves making fun of his own foibles, including the supposed rumours about him, the era in which he should have been born, and one of my personal favourites, his inability to take revenge for slights, except in his imagination. These are strung together by endearingly cheesy segues and the occasional light change — if it works. He takes on platonic cuddling, the desire to become a bird, and the pop music world’s obsession with youth as desirable over anything else. Listening to one of his songs is like being the proverbial frog boiled in water — he gradually turns up the topic’s bizarre aspect, little by little, until you suddenly realize just how strange things have gotten.
In that vein, my favourite two songs were probably the rocking piano stylings of “A Guy’s Night Out,” where five friends’ quest to find some weekend fun doesn’t turn out as planned, and a violin-accompanied “traditional Greek folk song,” based on Danelis’ heritage, on the topic of goats. Both got enough laughs to drown out the punk show next door, had it still been going.
If you like wildly inventive weirdness set to memorable musical lines, you’ll have a great time here. Maybe, if he gets enough fans, someone will even volunteer to help him run the lights.
- Anesti Danelis: Six Frets Under plays at the Tranzac Club. (292 Brunswick Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: mature language; not recommended for children.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Wednesday July 3rd, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 4th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 5th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 5:30 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 7:00 pm
- Wednesday July 10th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 8:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 5:30 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 7:00 pm
Photo of Anesti Danelis in Anesti Danelis: Six Frets Under by Tyra Sweet Photography