Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer
10 August 2011
Has it ever occurred to you that your search engine might be a real person, with feelings and a sense of morality, spending all day toiling in pursuit of your every whim? It hadn’t occurred to me either. Fortunately Craig Ricci Shaynak is crazy enough to actualise such an inventive concept with his joyously playful show I am Google.
Transforming a corner of the Kasbar Room in Espionage into a cramped bachelor flat with little more than a hectic assortment of books, videotapes and cassettes, I am Google follows the everyday life of a personified search engine who has recently experienced a difficult break up with his girlfriend, Twitter, and introduces us to his contemporaries – Bing, FaceBook and Yahoo.
Shaynak delivers a self-effacing performance from the outset, and it’s surprisingly fun to empathise with a human Google. He sets the tone for the show, and, more importantly, draws our attention to his stupendous gut by opening with a jiggling, rippling dance which is so agonising to watch, it’s genuinely hilarious. We then watch as Google answers query after query, usually pointless, often upsetting, sometimes destructive. He takes some time to explain the amusing practicalities of everything from porn searches to what the Pope gets up to online (I’d like to point out the arbitrary nature of these two examples).
As the act progresses, it becomes clear Shaynak is making an intriguing point about technology. Detaching things like hash checks and email from their immediate context, and dumping them in the middle of a Fringe audience, is where the show is particularly strong. On asking an audience member to read out a piece of scrambled text, Google deduces he must be a ‘bot’ and proceeds to search him, producing a tin of Spam. It would be great to see more of our virtual world brought into everyday events in order to ridicule it – so many of us spend our lives at the behest of smartphones and laptops.
At one point, there was a touch of risky improvisation. Shaynak handled it well, and given the programme’s description of the show: ‘get quick answers to your questions in 40 languages!’,
I am Google is undoubtedly an asset to the festival. It wholly deserves a following; it’s a well-conceived delight that tries to make a point. The show is at its most entertaining when observing the discrepancies between virtual and actual reality. We are all addicted to, and at times overwhelmed by technology. The question asked by I am Google is a straightforward one – why can’t we just walk away from it, once in a while?
Reviewed by Jay Richardson
8 August, 2011
The premise of Google as a sentient human consciousness sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theory and nightmare. Yet the dystopian vision of this Free Fringe show by Craig Ricci Shaynak is subtler and slower to upload itself than that, delivered as an anthropomorphic character portrait of the ubiquitous search engine and clocking in at an appropriately speedy 30 minutes.
Fielding enquiries as phone calls, flicking frantically through French encyclopaedias and thrusting maps into the audience's faces, the show's chief amusement is the way Google struggles with other applications and websites - his love triangle with Twitter and Facebook, his difficult relationship with Wikipedia and the encroaching threat of Bing, portrayed as a cat-stroking Bond villain.
Being a heavy internet user is undoubtedly a boon for appreciating some of the gags. But there's a sizeable demographic who will appreciate a show that's engaged enough to feature Google+. Eschewing all but the briefest, mildest reference to pornography, this is a consistently amusing, thoughtful show with developing potential as limitless as the World Wide Web.
Reviewed by Nina Glencross
Bing All Your Friends
When a rather generously proportioned man begins his one-man comedy show by pole-dancing to Far East Movement’s Like A G6, it’s clear that this is one performance the audience aren’t likely to forget anytime soon, but afterwards things become a bit more clear. If you ever wondered what Google would be like as a person then wonder no more, for Craig Ricci Shaynak nails the character so accurately that he’ll have you clutching your sides with laughter.
With perfect comic timing and a natural talent for hilarious American humour, Google introduces us to his internet friends and family, from his little brother Yahoo! and ex-girlfriend Twitter, to his best friend Wikipedia and their big fall out over the phone. Over the course of the hour, among many others, we meet IMDB, who forces the audience to join him for updates and Google’s arch nemesis Bing, who tries to convince Google to sell out, whilst passing through the eBay auction house and bumping into its resident loan shark – ‘It’s time to pay, pal!’
Each character is so different yet Shaynak brings each of them to life with so much conviction that you may forget he is only one man. As well as these characters, he uses the many features of Google as sources for comic gold. Whether it’s constantly changing his logo to commemorate important dates and events or using balloons to help audience members get from their current location to their destination using Google Maps, Shaynak keeps the audience engaged and entertained throughout the show. Just when they think he hasn’t covered something, he stops them in their tracks, taking crowd suggestions of phrases and languages to illustrate the wonders of Google Translate or sifting through their Google Mail spam folders.
If you thought ‘LOL’ was just an annoying phrase teenagers used then, yes, you’re probably right. But in this case, the phrase is given true meaning because this is proper laugh out loud humour delivered by a comic genius. Shaynak takes all of the best (and worst) aspects of the internet and mashes them together into an hour of original comedy that will have the audience in hysterics.