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The MTC world premiere of HUMOR ABUSE opened Tuesday at New York City Center – Stage II and has been praised by critics.


Below is today’s Bloomberg News review by Jeremy Gerard.




Clown Batters Body for Laughs, Reveals Family Secrets: Review

Review by Jeremy Gerard

March 13 (Bloomberg) — “Humor Abuse” is a one-man show spiked with pratfalls, juggling and some exceptionally funny clowning around. Running on Manhattan Theatre Club’s smaller stage at New York’s City Center, it’s also Lorenzo Pisoni’s ingenious, true tale of a son’s hard-won liberation from an overbearing father, a clown in public who was dead serious in private.

Beginning in the 1970s, the San Francisco-based Pickle Family Circus toured the region and then the country as its popularity grew. It even spawned two of the country’s best-known modern clowns: Bill Irwin and Geoff Hoyle. Among other things, the show is an inside look at what came to be called New Comedy.

The inspiration behind the company’s classic antics was Larry Pisoni, an American-born performer who found his soul in Italian commedia dell’arte and little theater (“piccolo teatro,” which became Pickle).

Inevitably, Lorenzo followed in his father’s baggy-pants and floppy-shoes footsteps. “Humor Abuse” is Lorenzo’s aptly, if horribly, titled memoir of a boy who began performing in a gorilla suit at age 2, was handed a performance contract by his parents at 6 and had learned the tricks of the trade by 10.

Larry creates Lorenzo in his own image and for a time they work together, much to the delight of audiences. Eventually, however, Lorenzo becomes his own clown and then his own man.

If Irwin and Hoyle twisted the old gimmicks into modern forms, Pisoni stayed truer to tradition. He’s utterly endearing, whether folding himself into a steamer trunk, diving off a very high ladder into a tiny pail or cajoling audience members into making fools of themselves.

Sweat, Blood

He also reveals the sweat, tears and sometimes blood behind the comedy.

“Larry’s busted open his chin, cracked his ribs, dislocated his shoulder, broken his hand, pulled his groin, broken both legs, sprained both ankles and broken both feet — all in the pursuit of laughs,” the son says, adding that, chief among the things he inherited from his father was “his anger.” He’s not kidding about the “abuse” half of his title. Being clowns never made them a particularly happy family.

Pisoni, blessed not only with rubber limbs and matinee-idol looks, created the show with his sensitive director, Erica Schmidt. They pack a thousand laughs and a dozen tugs at the heartstrings into a very swift 75 minutes.

Through April 12 at 131 W. 55th St. Information: +1-212- 581-1212; http://www.mtc-nyc.org.



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