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Neon Lights – Brighter Than The Sun … And Twice As Funny (Amuse Bouche – NY Clown Theatre Festival)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on September 25, 2011

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I don’t even know how to start explaining how or why Neon Lights (created and performed by Chris Manley and Jeff Seal) became the show that had me laughing so hard that I was literally wheezing.  Truthfully, if I gave you a rundown of everything they did in their act it would sound like I’m describing a show where two crazy lunatics mostly run around the stage for around an hour performing foolish antics, emitting crazy noises, flipping themselves around like pinballs and telling nonsensical stories – all for a laugh.  But you know how some people open their mouth to hit a high note and it sounds like a screech – but when Pavarotti did the same thing it was magic?  Yeah. That’s Neon Lights.  Somehow, they’ve found the magic.  Or – as they would tell you – the Magik.

Make no mistake.  As wild as Manley and Seal get you can see the layers of mastery encoded in everything they do.  There is no doubt that they’ve practiced, worked and reworked their craft to such a fine point that they are now able to let it fly with abandon, knowing they’ll hit the mark … the same way Annie Oakley knew she’d shoot a hole through that playing card from 90 feet away.  It’s all in the timing.

Manley and Seal start out at an almost unbelievably fast pace as they burst into the venue – they don’t let up, they don’t miss a beat, and they have the type of comic repartee that is reminiscent of a trapeze act – we can only watch in awe as they throw the jokes higher and higher and then be amazed each time they land safely at the intended mark.

This team plays brilliantly off each other, but generously gives each other the floor to showcase a talent.  For instance, Jeff Seal does an amazing impression of a Mime impersonating Robert DeNiro pretending he’s rollerblading.  And Chris Manley keeps the audience amused far longer than you’d expect with nothing but his Hello Kitty calendar and some month-by-month commentary.  It shouldn’t work – nothing about a grown man standing alone on stage with a calendar describing the pictures should work – but it had the audience howling with laughter.

Director Danny Manley knows how to let this duo break the speed limit but then also understands when it’s time to slow down the pace to give both the performers as well as the audience a chance to catch up – as well as catch their breath.  Luckily the slower bits contain just as many laughs, minus the turbo charge.

Hanging out with Neon Lights is like spending a night with your really good friends when you’re slightly buzzed and suddenly everything is funny – absolutely everything – and you’re laughing so hard that you get a stitch in your side.  Later, you may not remember exactly what it was that made you laugh so hard – and you may get blank stares when you try to explain it to people who weren’t there, but you know that these guys gave you one of the best nights of your life.

Yesterday was opening night.  Tonight – closing night.  I seriously don’t think you’ll find a better way to spend your Sunday — so get your tickets now.


Created and Performed by Jeff Seal & Chris Manley
Sunday, September 25 at 7:00PM
Playing as part of
Amuse Bouche 2011: A NY Clown Theatre Festival Hors d’Oeuvre
The Brick | 575 Metropolitan Ave | Brooklyn NY
Click Here to purchase tickets
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