Montreal Fringe Festival 2013 – Strip Spelling Bee

It’s a warm Wednesday evening (June 5th) and I’m scrambling around on St-Laurent and Duluth st. trying to find the MainLine Theatre (3997 St Laurent), a so-called “black-box theatre”, with the audience on three sides, and seating approximately 100 people. After wandering around for 15 minutes, I luckily stumble upon the venue (note: it’s the little building with flames painted on top of the door.)

Tonight’s show starts at 9:00pm, as part of Montreal Fringe After-Hours. And the main show? Strip. Spelling. Bee. Now, if you’re wondering what that’s all about, it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s like a spelling bee, except way more fun (by adults and for adults only).

Here’s how it works:

Nine contestants (four women and five men) have mustered up their courage and gathered here tonight, all sitting in the front row. One by one, they individually go up on stage and are given a word to spell. If they miss even a single letter, the music kicks in and it’s time to pop that shirt off!

Tonight’s show features three rounds, and for each round (and each incorrect spelling), the contestants seductively (and sometimes clumsily) dance and strip down. By the very last round, nearly every speller is left wearing nothing but their birthday suits. In fact, only one contestant is able to correctly spell a word all night (“I’m gonna take it off whether or not I get it right” he says.) The man sticks by his word.

The first contestant to go up on stage wears a pair of slacks, a solid-coloured dress shirt, and square spectacles. Basically, he looks like your everyday accountant. Now, I wish I could tell you the first word asked to be spelled (or any words during the show for that matter), but the hosts have carefully selected words so obscure and difficult, they’d likely perplex a spelling bee champ who reads the Oxford English Dictionary for fun.

The crowd, mainly consisting of young, fashionable 20-something year olds, loudly encourage all of the contestants. After all, it takes balls to go up on stage and strip in front of a live audience (it literally takes balls, because we can actually see them, and if we didn’t, then it wouldn’t really be a strip spelling bee, now would it?)

Another highlight on this night is the main host, Sherwin Sullivan Tija ( Whenever a contestant asks for a specific word to be used in a sentence, Sherwin invents a wildly hilarious story (ask him about his love for polar bears). He keeps things light, fun, amusing, and oh-so-sexually-inappropriate.

This is not a show for the shy, but it is a great introduction to the Montreal Fringe, a festival which showcases all sorts of off-the-wall comedians, artists, theatrical plays, and one-man shows. Next time you’re having a party with your friends (adult friends of course), why not organize a strip spelling bee? Protip: wear lots of layers.
For more information on upcoming Strip Spelling Bee shows, please visit:

If you don’t wanna get lost like I did while trying to find the MainLine Theatre, please visit:

For all news, schedules, and tickets for Montreal Fringe Festival 2013, please visit:

About Author /

A resident of the mean streets of Little Burgundy (really, it's not that bad), when Ayan isn't studying English Literature at Concordia University (while cursing Milton, Dickens, and Chaucer), you can likely find him yelling at the TV for his beloved Montreal Canadiens. Over the past year, he's written for The Concordian newspaper and had his name mispronounced as "Ian" at least a dozen times (really, I don't mind). He also believes that most situations in life can be related back to Seinfeld (if you haven't seen it, we can't be friends). FYI: you can touch his beard, but donations are welcome.

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