Jesus is my co-pilot

Jesus in Montana inspired by cult experience

Good theatre asks questions. My favourite theatre asks questions of itself. And who can resist a whopper like this: “Did I really hitchhike up to Montana and accept an 80-year-old pedophile as my personal saviour?” Jesus in Montana is an autobiographical monologue written and performed by Barry Smith an award-winning humour columnist from Aspen Colorado. It tells he says “my whole story from my Southern Baptist rearin’ to my rediscovery of Jesus and to my eventual fall from grace.” This is the real deal: Smith gave up years of his life to follow a man who he thought might be as he puts it “Jesus Version 2.0.” He even lived in the would-be guru’s basement for awhile. “When I would tell friends about this strange time of my life” says Smith “they always asked why I hadn’t written about it. I thought about this and realized that it just wasn’t the kind of story that could fit in a 700-word column. Or even a series of columns. And more importantly I knew that it was a story that seemed to want to be told aloud.” Another of Smith’s jobs has been as an audio-visual technician (“I’m a writer so of course I had other jobs” he says). “I sat through years of really bad slide shows and later PowerPoint. I always thought this would be a good way to do comedy so when it came time to put my show together I knew that it would have the multimedia element to it — slides video clips home movies pictures of me as a cute little kid at least one pie graph — all things that help explain how I came to make such strange decisions in my early 20s.” The show has generated a ton of buzz in every city it’s played. Back when it was just a tot it won the 2005 award for Outstanding Solo Show at the New York International Fringe Festival. Earlier this month it got saddled with an 11:15 p.m. opening night slot at the Toronto Fringe Festival and played to a house of 10 people. By the end of the run though it had received five-star reviews in both NOW Magazine and Eye Weekly and was consistently selling out. You can get a good taste of Smith’s irreverent sense of humour by checking out www.jesusinmontana.com — there are links there to Smith’s tour blog and to an archive of his very funny column “Irrelativity.” This guy can really write. And that’s a slice of fringe-fest salvation right there.