Sitcom stalwart and pals bring their BS to the Fringe

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True confession time: Somehow, I missed the news that Orlando expat Brian Bradley has a hand in Only Fools and Horses, a stateside adaptation of a British sitcom that’s going to pilot at ABC. Since I ordinarily monitor Bradley’s comings and goings with the obsessiveness of a proud grandma or a twice-detained stalker, this was a particularly shameful lapse. The only defense I can offer is that, at the time the news came down, I was having my gall bladder pulled out through my navel (literally and voluntarily -- this isn’t some euphemism for listening to the Lana Del Rey album).

Bradley, politely declining a job on the reboot of "Small Wonder"
  • Bradley, politely declining a job on the reboot of "Small Wonder"

Then again, I had also somehow neglected to inform you of Bradley’s stint as a consulting producer on ABC’s Happy Endings. Had you been relying solely on this blog for your Bradley news, you would likely have assumed that he had gone from spearheading the writing of the final season of Scrubs to coming this close to selling two other pilots to major nets, then fallen off the face of the planet like

well, like Lana Del Rey six weeks from now.

So I guess this space isn’t the world’s most reliable Bradley bulletin after all. But, um

did I mention that I had kidney stones last year, too? (I’m gonna be workin’ this angle at least until Obamacare kicks in.)

Anyway, I can now partially redeem myself by revealing that Bradley is one of four fabulously funny escapees from the City Beautiful who will be taking part in this year’s Orlando Fringe. Their show, Four Truths and a Lie, is actually something of a couples act, since it also features Audrey Kearns (Bradley’s wife and former partner in Orlando sketch team Discount Comedy Outlet), plus the married duo of SAK alums Matt Soule and Megan Soule (nee Whyte).

It would be tempting to report that Truths is a modern take on the concept of the key party -- a Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice in which everyone is Ted. (Whatever that might mean.) But in reality, the show is a forum for storytellers to tell tales revolving around a common theme -- four of those stories being the God’s honest truth and the other one 100 percent bunk. Figuring out which monologue is the snow job is up to the audience.

The undertaking started out in Bradley and Kearns’ living room -- just like a key party, hmmmm -- and has since grown to encompass regular, invitation-only events at Venice, CA’s G2 Gallery. According to Megan Soule, past participants have ranged from fellow Orlando transplants to L.A. luminaries like Stephanie Courtney, better known as “Flo” on the ubiquitous Progressive Insurance ads. Personally, I refuse to believe she is capable of saying anything untrue, which makes it really fortunate that I don’t own a car.

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In fact, Soule says, in the dozen-odd shows that have already been staged, not a single soul has correctly identified the liar. But remember: This is L.A., where “truth” is not only a relative concept, but a distant-relative concept. When the show comes to our Fringe this May, I’m counting on the Sunshine State crowd to prove far more discerning. Hey, we caught on to Rick Scott’s act just in time, almost!

If all goes according to plan, the version of Truths that will be staged here will feature various Orlando performers and other local celebs as the tale-tellers. It’ll also amount to a slight truncation, since the show has been known up to now as Five Truths and a Lie, but needed to be pruned a bit to fit the Fringe’s tight schedule.

So now comes the part where we ask ourselves the obvious, uncomfortable question. You know the one I mean. These are accomplished people we’re talking about. They’re just four of the vast crew of Central Florida performers and writers who migrated to the Left Coast in the early aughts and racked up an uncommonly high success rate in professional entertainment. Bradley’s omnipresence on the tube is merely one of the most visible of those Cinderella stories. So why would hip, got-it-made Joes like these be interested in slumming it at an O-town theater festival?

I put that question to Megan Soule, who, in addition to being one of the most gifted improvisers I’ve ever seen, also turns out to have quite a penchant for slinging the home-team sentiment. Here’s what she said:

“We decided to do the Fringe because it's our stomping grounds. Each of us did Fringe shows. And while Brian, Audrey, Matt and I all knew each other and even worked together there, we hadn't realized we would soon become the best of friends and so enjoy each other's work.

It's not just a homecoming, but a celebration of the unique arts scene that allowed us to develop and ultimately to find one another.”

What I heard in all that: “Key party. Big raid. Need legal fees fast.” I just hope Flo got out in time.

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