Er, hi.

So, about last night . . . um, you’re not going to be weird, are you? No one wants for things to be weird between us. We at Fringe & Purge truly, sincerely value your readership, and we don’t want anything to get in the way of that.

Anything else — look, the last three weeks have been an emotional time, for you, surely, as well as for us. And last night, at the Gypsy Tent, after the Pick of the Fringe Awards had been given and the Southampton Double White Ale kept flowing and DJ Smudge kept playing all that Prince and The Clash and David Bowie and James Brown and Talking Heads like it was nineteen-seventy-goddamn-nine or something, and we are just fine with this . . . Anyway, do you think we can still be friends?

Truth: Fringe & Purge is off to a late start this morn — er, afternoon, on account of having spent the first half of today seeking some long-delayed medical attention for a shoulder injury sustained in the course of activities utterly unrelated to whatever may or may not have occurred at the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent last night after some loud-talkin’ chump stepped up to Fringe & Purge all like, “Season Three of Slings & Arrows was a huge disappointment!” You do not want to be peddling that kind of insolent jibber jabber.

Anyway! We’re here now, is what matters.

We posed the question three weeks ago, “Can the Fringe Grow Up?” We were being rhetorical — we’re annoying like that — but ain’t nothing rhetorical about 33,897 tickets sold this year, up from 25,500 in 2009. Sales had been ticking up steadily each year since the first Capital Fringe in 2006, but between ’09 and ’10 the tally swelled by 33 percent. That’s some quantum shit.

As festival Executive Director/Washington City Paper cover girl/excellent dancer Julianne Brienza remarked last night, fringe button sales didn’t increase at nearly the same rate: The festival sold 11,000 last year and 13,000 this year. The data suggests, said Julianne, without using the word data, that more people were seeing multiple shows than in years past: “More of you saw more individual shows. And what that means is that we actually had a festival this year.”

Did we ever.

Senior Fringe & Purge Action News and Commentary Squad members Trey Graham, Glen Weldon, and I will offer some What It All Means-type thoughts on this year’s wildly successful, decidedly growed-up fringe in a day or so. For now, we want to congratulate the Pick of the Fringe Award-winners and revisit what we had to say about those shows when we reviewed them.

Best Comedy: Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending. F&P said — um, well. It seems we, ah, did not manage to get a critic to this one. By way of compensation, please enjoy this three-year-old review of The Juliet Project by Glen. Or this Roger Ebert review of Franco Zeffirelli‘s 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. My ninth grade English teacher showed us this movie in class and somehow managed to pause the VHS tape (yes, me: old) at just the right second to freeze-frame one of the picture’s very fleeting glimpses of Olivia Hussey‘s unclothed bosoms. Would I even be here, writing this, if that had not occurred? I wonder.

Best Drama: Genesis. Now, when Fringe & Purge reviewed this, we were particularly moved by the . . . oh, you have got to be kidding me. We didn’t get this one, either? Seriously? I’m sorry about this, readers. Here, go ahead and watch the “Land of Confusion” video on us.

Best Musical: Super Claudio Brothers, the New Video Game Musical. Hey hey hey, we sent our ringer. “Matthew A. Anderson’s evil-platypus-as-New-Jersey-crime-boss keeps events grounded, believe it or not,” observed G-Weld.

Best Experimental: The Sleeping Beauty: A Puppet Ballet. No. No! You’re actually telling me we — WHY AM I SURROUNDED BY FRICKIN’ IDIOTS? Um. Hey, isn’t that Danny Glover walking out of The Cloak Room?

Best Dance: How Frail the Human Heart. Okay, all those others? Those were all our fault. But this one, totally not. The FPANCS’s dance expert bailed on us to go work for a Great Metropolitan Newspaper after the festival had already begun. This would be a good place for another Genesis joke, but we have too much dignity to return to that well. (Because they had a big song called “I Can’t Dance.” Ha.)

UPDATE! Hey, sorry, Ben Egerman, for overlooking your Best Solo Performance win. Our humblest apologies, our most heartfelt felicitations. We are delighted you won. Do you know why? Because we totally reviewed your show. ‘Twas perhaps with a flash of premonition that our Sophia Bushong enthused, “Remember Ben Egerman’s name, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for where he may be in five to ten years.” Ben, we’re sorry we forgot to remember, and we congratulate you on your achievement.

*Sigh* The recipients of the Directors’ Award — the laurel given by festival honchos Julianne, Producing Artistic Director Scot McKenzie, and their inner circle in recognition of artistic risk-tolerance, professional integrity, and general excellence — went to Dylan Marron and Jo Firestone, the ingenious creators/performers of Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite. And do we have some decent coverage of that, at least?

Would it surprise you to learn that we do?

Finally, on a serious note, Scot last night dedicated the Directors’ Award to the memory of Darin Ellis, a young singer and actor who appeared in the show Assembly Required before dying suddenly of congestive heart failure on July 22. We offer our sincere condolences to the loved ones Mr. Ellis leaves behind.

See you all back here tomorrow.