Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer
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?
10 August 2011
Reviewed by Kryztoff
Adelaide Fringe - Austral
Guests are welcomed with cookies so that their browsers will work, a good indication on how geeky this show is going to be.
I am Google, performed by Craig Ricci Shaynak, who has quite an amazing bio of his own (see his website below), takes us into the world of Google, search engines and social media, giving a glimpse into what life would be like if Google where a person.
It’s sad to hear that Twitter broke up with Google because she thought Google wasn’t funny enough. Well have you ever asked Google Maps for directions from New York, NY, United States to Tokyo, Japan? Look it up and see what way Google suggests to cross the Pacific Ocean. And Twitter thinks Google’s not funny. Go on look it up now http://maps.google.com.au
But at least since the break up Google doesn’t have to worry about the communications issues Twitter has with only talking 140 characters at a time.
When facebook hooked up with twitter, Google dropped some rumours about a timeline, and truly who loves facebooks’ timeline. 1+ for Google on getting back at facebook. But Google still isn’t happy that Twitter likes being poked by facebook.
The audience got a chance to try out Google’s Translate function plus there where guest appearances by Yahoo and Bing.
It surely does appear that answering the worlds questions 24/7 can be very tiring. What would we do if Google decided to take a well deserved break from its mission to organise the worlds information.
A very clever, if somewhat geeky show, which will entertain the nerds and Google power users and more.
Reviewed by John McDonald
Herald Sun Melbourne
Craig Ricci Shaynak in I am Google, Roxanne Parlour, until April 7 (excluding Mondays)
CRAIG RICCI SHAYNAK IS THE STAR OF I AM GOOGLE. SUPPLIED
NO matter how many times you've used Google, chances are you've never given much thought to how it manages to find what you're looking for.
But Craig Ricci Shaynak wants you to know. After all, he is Google and he feels underappreciated.
And the poor guy is doing it pretty hard. His job is 24/7, mostly settling bets or finding out information for people who treat him like an automated service rather than a real person. His friend Wikipedia sometimes proves unreliable, and that weirdo Yahoo! keeps bothering him.
To make matters worse, his girlfriend Twitter has just dumped him (quite abruptly, given that she had only 140 characters with which to get her message across).
This entertaining show involves a lot of improvisation and audience participation. Shaynak loosens to mood by handing out Tim Tams at the start - because as frequent browsers know, searches don't work quite so well without cookies.
Shaynak looks like the kind of guy who has enabled a few cookies in his time. He won't take offence at that - anyone whose website is fatbaldloud.com is hardly likely to be concerned about fat jokes.
Warning: If you're one of the few people who never use Google, don't go and see this show, because most of the best lines will fall flat. But if you're a regular user, then this show could be just what you are, well, searching for.
March 30, 2012
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.
Reviewed by Roxane Hudson
The Skinny - Edinburgh
Just imagining Google as a living, breathing being is a great joke with endless possibilities, and so, there are very few things American character actor Craig Ricci Shaynak could do wrong.
Before his show even starts, Shaynak walks around, warmly introducing himself as Google and forcing waiting audience members to accept cookies, because, if they don’t, their browser won’t work… obviously. Sitting behind a desk littered with dictionaries, telephones, cassettes and more, Shaynak answers different, ridiculous search queries, acts out adverts and talks to his various friends and enemies including his ex-girlfriend Twitter, Facebook, IMDB, Yahoo, Wikipedia and the very lonely and forgotten Tom from MySpace, everyone’s first virtual buddy.
Shaynak is clever and hilarious, improvising bits and asking people for language suggestions, so he can Google Translate (he pulled off a mix of Latin and Swedish). The only weak point for me is the awkward, underlying message that we rely too much on technology: it buzzkilled my LOLs. But still, this is the kind of show that will probably only get stronger and funnier throughout the month, because there’s so much he can do with it. After all, who doesn’t like a good internet joke?
07 August, 2012
Reviewed by Lyndsay Gardner
What's On Stage
Laughing Horse @ Temple Bar, Brighton
I am Google, a one man show, performed by Hollywood actor Craig Ricci Shaymak is a geeky spectacular. A unique performance in which we meet Google and his best friends, Twitter, Yahoo and Wikipedia. However, his arch-enemy Bing is not invited. You might say that this show could be just what you are searching for!
The theatre is small and intimate, and at first doesn’t look like a show is about to take place, as a man sat behind a desk at the front greeted us and handed out large biscuits, to make sure our ‘cookies were enabled’. We soon realise that this is the main actor, as he suddenly leaps from his desk. He dances around the room with Like a G6 blaring from his iphone and, with the ice suddenly broken in quite an unusual way, we really don’t know what to expect next.
This is, however, all part of the act. After we get our heads around the fact that this man is acting as Google himself, the show becomes very funny. We are all asked to ‘Login’ and are shown a behind the scenes view of his take of Google, which is depicted as an overweight American man in a Google t-shirt sitting behind a desk, with a stack of books, looking up each topic. While searching, he is constantly taking phone calls to make new searches and you see his frustrations as he has to find each answer. As long as you have a geeky sense of humour, and a good knowledge of computers, you will be crying with laughter in no time.
The main section of the show is the “Live Search” sketch. The audience are asked to call out words or phrases for Google to “Live Search” for us on the spot. Unfortunately the audience on this night did not seem to want to participate, and stared blankly at the front causing quite an awkward silence. Shaymak did his best to encourage people to come forward and a few people sheepishly said a few phrases - his answers in return were very funny. The audience then stepped up to shout out complicated things almost impossible to answer which spoilt it a bit as I feel that, had we had a more fun participating audience, the show would have flowed so much better.
Overall this show was brilliantly unique and designed for the geeks amongst us, and with the right audience it would be incredibly funny. Giving out cookies at the beginning and encouraging interaction makes it very different to other shows and brilliantly funny - as long as the audience comes with an open mind, a Gmail login and a readiness to stand up and join in the fun!
8 May, 2012
Reviewed by Jay Richardson
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.
8 August, 2011