In A Totally Sick Online Show (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), co-creators Benjamin Liddell and Lucas Carravetta explore a specific idea: an awful lot of pop culture is just white guys jerking around, often without even the pretense that anything entertaining is going to happen. Podcasts where nobodies discuss nothing; vapid late-nite TV; YouTube content built for an algorithm instead of an audience; Jordan Peterson.
There’s a risk that this topic could loop back ’round on them: a lot of this material is, unavoidably, two white guys jerking around. One trick they use to work around this is exploiting their medium (this show is unquestionably video rather than theatre) to add tinges of awkwardness and selective authenticity to the show. In this regard, they succeed at something a lot of other Fringe shows are screwing up: their Zoom calls actually feel like Zoom calls, while their other segments — blessedly — don’t.
The other trick is that they’re really quite good at playing assholes. The targets may be a little soft at times, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? The people they’re lampooning are doing so little, to such an extent that any criticism can inherently feel like you’re overdoing it. In this sense, Totally Sick‘s skeletal parodies and sketchy treatments feel like the critique this white-guys-doing-nothing phenomenon deserves.
I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the creators’ savvy decision to focus on episodic media serves them extremely well, and their respective strengths — Liddell with a guitar and a twinkle in his eye, Carravetta with a very specific kind of like-and-subscribe dudeliness — come to the fore.
I can see this show being exhausting for some people. It’s a white-guy show about white guys; it’s often stream-of-consciousness; there’s very little new territory here. But if you had the stomach for another recent journey to the centre of this particular universe, you’ll certainly find something to enjoy here.
- A Totally Sick Online Show is playing on-demand at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival.
- Purchase a $5 Membership to access the On-Demand programming on the Fringe website, then Pay What You Can to each show as you go, with the suggested price of $13 per show.
- Memberships can be purchased here. View the virtual on-demand show listings here.
- Accessibility notes:
- On-Demand shows: videos are closed captioned, transcripts are available for all audio content, documents are screen-reader friendly, and all digital images are provided with alternative text descriptions. These access supplements have been generated by the company and reviewed by the Festival. They may vary slightly from company to company.
- Fringe Primetime presentations will feature Auto-Transcribed Captioning.
- Content warning: the festival rates this show as Parental Guidance Recommended, and notes that it features mature language.
The collage used in the header features Benjamin Liddell (left) and Lucas Carravetta (right). Middle photo by Kiah O’Flanagan-Tasse.