Wing-Man: NY Clown Theater Festival

By: Stanley Allan Sherman
© September 25, 2011

Written and performed by: Mark Gindick
Directions by: David Shiner & Barry Lubin
Produced with: Bongarbiz

Wing Man is all about Mark looking for love (or trying to), and/or manipulating an audience member into kissing him.

Mark opens the show with recorded popular music and facebook up on the screen. His use of facebook on the screen is used well as the opening and closing of the show. The lighting of Mark’s facebook page was a little to dim. Mark is a good comic dancer. He did his famous air guitar piece, putting his air guitar down his pants and having his third leg play fantastic famous rock and roll. This is always a good bit and always gets a laugh. Having seen this piece before at Downtown Clown, many people in the audience had a reference point. But what was missing tonight was the unexpected female dancer in the audience that many people have seen in past performances. Whoever she was, she was fantastic and really made that piece have real heart and soul. It took it from being a bit to being real theater. It also pushed Mark’s performance from doing a bit. I really missed the theater part tonight. Marks two directors, David Shiner and Barry Lubin, failed to help Mark find anything close to that same drama, which he is very much capable of.

Mark has good bits. I liked his setting up the kissing booth, pulling it out of his suitcase. It is a nice prop.

Some of funny parts of the Mark Gindick’s show that I really enjoyed:

An audience member from the stage right part of the audience, front row was Jeff Lewonczyk, actor, writer, director and associate producer of the Brick Theater. Jeff was pulled up on stage to play Mark’s shrink, looking for love. This was one of the really funny moments in Mark’s show. Jeff was handed a notebook that he was to read from. Instead of reading only what he was expected to read, Jeff started out by reading the instructions meant only for him. “Please read the following in a heavy German accent.” Mark’s well-timed reaction was in mime gesturing: no, do not read that part. Jeff’s timing and play was perfect and very funny.

In tonight’s show, it was a beautiful woman that Mark was after to kiss him. The young woman he selected towards the end of the show, who was also sitting in the front row, is Jennifer Stokes, a performer in her own right. He took Jennifer up on stage. Jennifer played the situation well. Some of the best laughs came from what she did and her timing. Mark has a kissing booth that he puts up at the beginning of the show that says “$100 a kiss”. Much of the show is Mark waiting or trying to get someone to kiss him. Jennifer Stokes was taken on Marks mime roller coaster, going up and down side to side. Marks threw up in the process, in mime. We saw Mark’s mime barf (his fingers) flying in the air. Jennifer saw what was coming and made herself a hard target. At the last minute, he put his head in the way of his pretend mime barf.

It finally moved to the kissing booth. Mark wanted Jennifer to pay $100 to kiss him. No way. Mark dropped the price to $50. No way. Mark got desperate and took it down to $20. No way. Jennifer showed she had no money, pulling out her pockets, finding a used gum wrapper, and offering it to Mark. Mark was insulted, but took the price finally down to $1. Still no…and Jennifer offered Mark the wrapper with excellent timing. Jennifer offering Mark the wrapper was one of the funniest moments of this show. Mark took down the $1 sign and put up a “will pay you $1″ sign, and he took out a dollar from his pocket. No way Jennifer was going to kiss him for $1 – she wanted much more in a situation like this and the audience was with her and laughing with her! No way is she going to kiss Mark for $1, especially with Jennifer’s boy friend, performer Alex Kipp, sitting in the front row. Let’s say Alex was not pleased, but pleased with how Jennifer was handling things, and with her performance. After the show Alex said, “She was the perfect spotlight, not trying to steal it, but accentuating Mark.” But Jennifer did get the biggest laughs of the evening, and well deserved. Marks started pleading for the audience to urge Jennifer to kiss him. The audience responded – everyone yelled and cheered for Jennifer to kiss Mark. Jennifer saw the writing on the wall. Her boyfriend also saw it, and covered his eyes. She tricked Mark into looking away and Mark got his very slight kiss off the side of his cheek. Jennifer very happily sat down.

There was another person involved in the performance who set all of Marks props, whose name I do not know and was not listed. He did a great job taking props on and off stage but also playing the part well and interacting with Mark.

At the end of the show Mark played with bubble wrap. We see lots of bubble wrap being tossed onto stage by Mark. Then Mark comes out in full bubble wrap suit and hat. Mark starts throwing bubble wrap into the audience. But it only gets to the first and second row. It is hard to throw bubble wrap in small pieces. All the bubble wrap business was poorly explored and executed. Playing the popping needed much more exploration.

Mark is a very talented performer, but for Clown Theater to really fly, you need soul, vulnerability and real passion. Missed the passion. People laughed through this whole show. Laugher is not enough. One’s emotions must be moved – air guitar in the past was great because of the passion between Mark and the wonderful dance partner he worked with. I am sorry I do not know her name.

One other issue, where is the credit for all the musicians? You are using their music? If you take away all the music and do it without any music, what do you have? Often the drama and passion in the show came from the musicians who received no credit anywhere

The directors of Wing-man, David Shiner and Barry Lubin, in this audience member’s eyes, failed Mark Gindick. The simple element of playing bubble wrap had no drama and was very poorly used. The show fails to come together and have any real drama or build. As one audience member said after the show, “it is a 5 minute bit turned into a full show.” That can be done, but it was not done here. That is not on Mark Gindick, but his directors.

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