“Humor Abuse,” created by Lorenzo Pisoni and Erica Schmidt and performed by Pisoni, tells the fantastical tale of Pisoni’s childhood growing up as a performer in the company his parents created; the Pickle’s Family Circus. By the age of two, Pisoni was sneaking onstage at intermission to perform. By the age of six he was a contracted performer as the sidekick of Lorenzo Pickles, the clown his father played. At eleven, when his father left the circus, Pisoni took over as many of his father’s roles as he was able and toured with the circus around the country without either of his parents. Pisoni remained with the circus even while attending high school, performing whenever school breaks allowed. It wasn’t until after Pisoni himself left the circus and attended college that he was reunited once more to perform with his father.
Using the backdrop from the circus and many props that were made and used by his parents onstage, Pisoni takes the audience on a journey through his upbringing and education on how to be a clown – joking that he often felt abused for the sake of humor. Thus begins a succession of brilliantly timed and performed clowning acts. Some of which were his father’s making and then eventually leading into acts of his own invention. Pisoni’s timing is flawless and his interplay with the audience spot-on. Interposed into these acts are projections of home photos showing a young Pisoni to accompany his ongoing narrative.
As if Pisoni’s awe-inspiring physicality weren’t enough, the backbone that connects each disparate act is a well thought out, touching homage to his father; the man who taught him to be a clown. Born into the circus, Pisoni is a consummate performer and can command the stage, fall down stairs and captivate the entire audience with his antics as easily as you or I walk down the street. It is only in the narrative that the bravado fades away and a slight timidity emerges. A beautiful vulnerability takes over whenever Pisoni slows down to tell his tale. Slows down to remember the moments that he shared with his father; the inside jokes, the lessons learned and the meals shared. It is a rare glimpse into the lives of the men behind the big red noses and the love that they share for not only their craft, but each other.
“Humor Abuse” is fantastically original, laugh out-loud funny and heart-warming. It is a must-see for anyone who spent their Saturday mornings with the “Looney Tunes” as a child or ever threatened to run away to the circus. For everyone else, it’s still a must-see, because it’s just that good.
*Coverage provided for the Culver City News