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Fringe Review: Incognito: In Wishy Washy

By David Currie on June 10, 2017

Incognito-in-Wishy-Washy_web

Incognito: In Wishy Washy
by Mike Kosowan

56 min / Comedy, Clown, Solo / PG

Clowns have been getting a pretty bad rap lately. Not since John Wayne Gacy have things looked so bleak for the clown people. Mike Kosowan is going to do something about that. In just under sixty minutes, Incognito: In Wishy Washy rebrands clowns back to the loveable goofs they should be.

Incognito: In Wishy Washy is my first (and likely dark horse) pick for Best of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Kosowan is the perfect clown for our time, he brings to the stage a humble genius and wisdom when it comes to things like failing, not doing magic very well, and making a mess on stage. I’m not being tongue and cheek – those are great clown skills. Kosowan is also a great architect of audience interaction, always allowing the audience to be the “straight man.”

The show opens in total darkness and news clips of clown “attacks” are broadcast over the audience. Then Kosowan’s clown shirks in, this isn’t a scary reveal quite the contrary, all the tension and fear of the news melts away as the audience is reminded why theatrical clowns are so endearing. When people say “I hate clowns,” they are never referring to Harpo Marx, they mean weird lazy men at birthday parties. #notallclowns

After the cold open, Kosowan’s seldom speaking (as opposed to never speaking) Harpo Clown treats the audience to a magic act that isn’t going very well. It’s hysterically funny and really puts any lingering association with murder clowns to rest. The second half is a classic Genie story that is so expertly told and incorporated into Kosowan’s mischief that one wonders what grander stories Kosowan could tell with his clown. This show is wonderful and captivating. Kosowan’s face is a vehicle for so much pathos and at the same time instills such ethos that, when he spills Doritos all over the floor, I was overwhelmed with feeling.

There is a fabulous light show at the end of this show. Let’s just add an epilepsy warning there. For those who have ever loved fireworks, they will certainly love this portion – Kosowan strips the magic from spectacle, as he did earlier in the show when he stripped the magic from magic and the magic from storytelling, leaving something penetrable, accessible, and ultimately human. His reliance on failure and the sympathy it elicits, and on the belief in good people and in good clowns, is refreshing and exactly what is needed right now.

Mike Kosowan is saving the world one clown show at a time.


Incognito: In Wishy Washy by Mike Kosowan is playing at Studio Léonard-Beaulne (135 Séraphin-Marion) until Saturday June 17, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.

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