Joel Jeske in “I Have Never Done this Before”

By: Stanley Allan Sherman
© September 22, 2011

Created and performed by: Joel Jeske

These comments are somewhat pointless because tomorrow night’s show will be different – because true to his principles everything he will do he has not done before. This type of performing/clowning is very gutsy and refreshing to see. You put yourself out there and it depends on you and how you are that night. This is a muscle that one must build and the only way to do that is perform. Personally I liked Joel’s performance in the Clown Theater Festival preview a little better. But as each night is totally different, he had a totally different side to his clown on this night, and he is most likely changing this as well each night. I felt he had a little bit of a safety net in how he played his clown tonight, which was the mean, bossy, take-no-guff-from-anyone and do what I say! But it was great. One performer who I respect said outside after the show. “It was the best thing I have seen in a long time.” In the opening, which you will most likely never see because everything thing he does he has not done before, Joel was sitting reading a book to recorded crowd noise on a small cd player he had next to him, looking up and studying the audience coming in, then going back to his book. It looked like he was actually reading. The book was to far away to read the title – but I do wonder what book Joel was reading to warm up for this show.

We had fun tonight. A recording Joel played tells the audience to participate: do whatever you are told or you will be consider as asshole and everyone will hate you, (or something close to that). His clown was bossy and threatening – totally different from the opening festival night. The dance piece to the recorded music was nice clown dancing but did not do much for me – but people were laughing. He brought a lot of people up on stage to do things. In one of the highlights an audience member on his knees holding a music book for Joel, while Joel played his ukulele and sang a song from the book he never sung before and it was emotional and brilliant. He did what he called bad mimes inspired from a bad mime group in Paris: shaving a giraffe, teaching dancing to an elephant and a few others. They were fun, but being a mime I may be overly critical, his technique needs some work, but he did say these were bad mimes. He also ran all his technical stuff, running up at the beginning of the show to the light booth to turn up the lights and running up to the booth to turn them down at the end.

At one point he remained me of things than the late Andy Kaufman would do playing with and manipulating the audience, but in a very different way. He actually got people to hit each other with pillows, starting with two and growing to eight people pillow fight. No feather flew. It was six guys against two women at the end. The women won. This show is well worth seeing and the more Joel risks, the more vulnerable Joel is, the better the show. Of course be warmed: Joel can and will do almost anything. Doing this show must be very freeing. It looks like Joel is really having a great time.

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