Friday, January 20, 2012

Humor Abuse: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼!

This reviewer gets to live in a city where the quality of solo performance is probably the best in the nation. So when a new artist appears with a new show -- regardless of the artist's pedigree -- we are going to judge him against the brilliance of Charlie Varon, Mike Daisey, Ann Randolph, Geoff and Dan Hoyle, Marga Gomez and many others.

Move over, you guys, there's a new clown in town. Lorenzo Pisoni's "Humor Abuse," which plays through February 5 at A.C.T. Theatre, is brilliant. His training, since age two, has been as a circus clown, but this is not Bozo at Ringling Brothers. Pisoni's clowning is contained within a deeply rewarding and inspirational story, which is the story of his life, up to here. And for San Francisco, he radiates a sense of the way things used to be, in the '70s and '80s, when the guerrilla theater of his family performance unit, The Pickle Family Circus, was still alive and prospering.

With the Pickles, Pisoni's father and mentor Larry was not only Lorenzo Pickle on stage but at home with his family too. He drove Lorenzo to learn tricks flawlessly. As a result, the meat and potatoes of "Humor Abuse" are Lorenzo's stunts. Two segments in particular stand out -- the stairway and the ladder. Imagine trying to climb a ladder wearing scuba diving flippers -- and then figuring out how to dive from the top of the ladder into an empty hat. Can't do it, can ya?

This is the kind of show where the artist warns the audience that he is not funny, but no one is listening because they're laughing so hard they keep banging their chins against the seat in front of them.

You'll love the music too -- circus music with a heart, written by Randy Craig -- as well as the old family photos which serve to ground the show in reality. "Humor Abuse" is the perfect length, one long act with no intermission, and takes less than an hour and a half. When Lorenzo is finished you're exhausted.

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼!
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Humor Abuse" its highest award: Five Stars. Imagine the old carnival where you bang a sledge hammer on a scale and propel a ball upwards towards a red metal bell which will chime if you've swung hard enough. They've knocked this one off the charts. For writing (Pisoni and Erica Schmidt), directing (Schmidt), staging (Hannah Cohen), music (Bart Fasbender with original music by Randy Craig), and performance -- plus a big splash of old fashioned feel-good-ness, we tip our little red hat and say thanks for this one.

"Humor Abuse"
A.C.T. Theater
415 Geary Street, San Francisco
Through Feb. 5

1 comment:

mary ann said...

Great review ~ I agree with every word and it was nice to re-live the evening through your eyes.