Many of us think of our families as a big circus but Lorenzo Pisoni has special insight on the real thing as he had to run away from home in order to NOT be in the circus. Drawing from his memories growing up in the Pickle Family Circus, Pisoni and director Erica Schmidt have concocted a show that is part memoir, part clowning and all simply wonderful in "Humor Abuse", currently playing at the Seattle Rep.
Lorenzo Pisoni had a childhood that some of us may have longed for during our own youth, growing up in the Pickle Family Circus as the son of one of their founders, Larry Pisoni (a.k.a. Lorenzo Pickles. Yes, he was named after his Father's clown character). But while starting at the age of two in a monkey suit and learning from a master of the trade may sound like fun, the real Lorenzo shares a different story that, while still filled with humor and wonder, may not have been the most idyllic. He even went to the point of turning his back on it all in his adolescence. I mean, after all as he says about himself, "I'm just not funny."
But having this life engrained in him at such a young age means that it's part of his soul and Pisoni has made his way back to the center ring, not to perform with his father as Lorenzo, the clown but tell about him as Larry, the man. Now my readers know of my distaste for anyone else's therapy or self discovery on stage, but Pisoni handles it so deftly and disguised by pratfalls and brilliant clowning routines that by the end, he may have exorcised some personal demons, but he made us laugh through it with him and grow to care about him as we did.
Interspersing amazing comic bits throughout the story, Pisoni shows that he really IS funny and as much of a master of the art as his Father. Not only was this a fascinating tale but personally I found myself uncontrollably giggling all night long. Whether he's simply blowing up balloons, carrying suitcases up stairs or (my favorite) attempting to dive into a bucket of water, Pisoni plays it all close to his vest with sublime and unobtrusive subtlety. He shows there's more to clowning than seltzer in the face or big floppy shoes. It really is an art and he is a true artist. And beyond that he shows that through all his trials growing up as a clown, he really does love it.
So I can completely recommend running away and joining Lorenzo Pisoni's circus for an evening. Not just for a hilarious time but a truly touching one at that.
"Humor Abuse" plays at the Seattle Rep through October 23rd. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Rep box office at 206-443-2222 or visit them online at www.seattlerep.org.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion