These are show notes taken from an audio interview.
To listen to the actual interview, please use the player above.
In this interview, Avner Eisenberg, who performs as Avner the Eccentric, talks about his career and his approach to performing silent comedy. Other topics that come up are creating material appropriate for your character, being easy to work with, and where he finds inspiration.
Avner is a clown, juggler, mime, sleight-of hand artist, and actor. He’s been featured on TV and as The Jewel in the Movie Jewel of the Nile. He’s been a featured performer at various comedy, magic, and theater festivals world-wide, where he’s won multiple awards like the Edinburgh Festival’s New Faces award, and special jury awards at many other notable festivals. In 2002 he was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame.
In addition to this, Avner is an instructor in his craft, teaching on physical comedy and silent theater.
Always take a nap before a show.
Avner’s Approach to Comedy
• Fear of not being interesting.
• Performers and Audiences being afraid of each other.
• Be interested, not interesting.
• Contract between the audience and performer is to share the same hallucination.
• Make them love you and then you can do anything. Even card tricks.
• The objective isn’t not to make people laugh.
• Laughs can be an interruption that you have to deal with.
• A performer should never be foolish, but also never be afraid of looking foolish.
• There is no failure, only feedback.
Communicating Without Words
• Keep your mouth shut. 🙂
• Make what you’re pretending to do more compelling than what you’re really doing.
Other Topics Covered
• Talks about how he accidentally fell into entertainment.
• Tells about his the structure of his one-man show.
• How he became a silent act.
• Talks about a lucky break he received (a glowing NY Times review) and how things took off.
• How audiences have changed as well as their expectations.
• Keeping his act fresh.
• Putting obstacles in the path of the person trying to accomplish a goal. But they have to be obstacles that you can get around.
• Where he finds inspiration.
• Creating things that fit within your character and killing or modifying things that don’t.
• How his show has evolved over his career.
• Being easy to work with.
Getting a woman up on stage with him who was sloshed and couldn’t follow directions, so he let her go back to her seat to get someone else up to help out. She turned out to be just as wasted as the first.
A fun and amazing coincidence which only could have happened to Avner.
And then in a completely unrelated account, winning a competition he didn’t realize he was competing in.
What’s worked best in building his career?
Running on Broadway and playing The Jewel in The Jewel of the Nile.
Asking for reviews and building his press kit.
Biggest Professional Challenge
Playing the Jewel of the Nile
Interesting Story from the Road
Tells a few stores which involve arriving late to a show and having to setup in front of them, another instance where a young girl wet herself on stage, and yet another instance where he was attacked by a drunk man on stage!
Be interested, not interesting.
If you can’t succeed every time, learn to fail magnificently.
Recommended books and resources:
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Where can we find Avner Eisenberg?