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'Silly & Unnecessary Variety Show' brings levity to life in the time of COVID-19

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Imagine being quarantined for weeks inside a small (by Rochester standards) New York City apartment by yourself. Well, there are a couple of cats, too.

"I went out last night to see a friend," said Lori Hamilton, "and they were, like, 'You did not tell us you were going out. It was not on the schedule.' "

Comedian Lori Hamilton aims to salvage fun from the COVID-19 era with her "Silly & Unnecessary Variety Show" at the 2020 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. - PHOTO PROVIDED BY KEYBANK ROCHESTER FRINGE FESTIVAL
  • PHOTO PROVIDED BY KEYBANK ROCHESTER FRINGE FESTIVAL
  • Comedian Lori Hamilton aims to salvage fun from the COVID-19 era with her "Silly & Unnecessary Variety Show" at the 2020 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.
The comedian has so many characters and skits bouncing around in her imagination, it's easy to see how she survived the COVID-19 solitude. Hamilton's "Silly & Unnecessary Variety Show" premieres Friday, September18, at 7 p.m., at the 2020 KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. 

"It's a combination of things," she explained. "My idea originally was, what if I did a 'Saturday Night Live' episode, except the only person in the episode was me?"

Or if PBS is more your thing, Hamilton said Mr. Rogers also served as an inspiration: "I was creating in my imagination an alternate world in which things were fun and happy and things made sense."

Fringe fans will meet and be able to interact virtually with a host of characters, all portrayed by Hamilton. They range from a sedate corporate human resources director to a Midwest mom to a clueless bookstore clerk, all with their unique takes on the pandemic.



Lorenzo, one of Lori Hamilton's cats, when he was a kitten. Her variety show includes cats telling kids' jokes. - PHOTO BY PROVIDED BY LORI HAMILTON
  • PHOTO BY PROVIDED BY LORI HAMILTON
  • Lorenzo, one of Lori Hamilton's cats, when he was a kitten. Her variety show includes cats telling kids' jokes.
Oh, and be sure not to tune out before you hear Hamilton hit some high notes when she demonstrates what an opera program would sound like if it had commercial breaks like NASCAR.

  "Silly & Unnecessary Variety Show" is playing via Zoom meeting on Friday, September 18, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m.; Friday, September 25, at 9 p.m.;  and Saturday, September 26, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $5 at rochesterfringe.com.  Age 13 and over.

Beth Adams is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. She can be reached at badams@wxxi.org.

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