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Wing-Man Soars (Amuse Bouche – NY Clown Theatre Festival)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on September 25, 2011

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I’d say that Mark Gindick had me at “hello” with his one-man comedy performance Wing-Man (directed by Barry Lubin) but he actually never said “hello”.  In fact, he didn’t say anything.  For a solid hour Mark Gindick doesn’t really say a word  but as surely as he arrives on the scene with a rose and a heart-shaped box of candy there’s no mistaking that he’s there to win your heart.  And frankly, were I not happily married I’d readily have given my heart (and a kiss – but more on that in a minute) to this man as easily as I gave him my laughter — because Mark Gindick just happens to be that engaging, magnetic and sweet.  And frankly, if anyone deserves your love, it’s him.

Ultimately every performer – be it clown, comedian, singer or Shakespearean actor – is looking for love when they walk out into the spotlight.  The love will come back to them in a few different forms  … the audience will applaud or laugh or cheer or sing along but that’s all just different ways of showing their love and acceptance.  The way the performer asks for that love is usually cloaked behind a script, a song, a story … but it’s still there. Gindick’s Wing-Man, however, cuts closer to the bone.  When Mark takes the stage he makes no pretense that he is there for any other reason than to acquire your love which – you can just tell – he will cherish and nurture.  He goes about winning your heart by making you laugh.  Over and over and over again.

It’s odd to see a performer, especially one billed as a clown, who can pluck at your core so exquisitely while making you laugh so powerfully.  Yet Gindick does it – solidly – from the moment he steps onto the stage till the moment he retreats – wrapped in bubble wrap having just done a tap dancing routine that sounded like a 21-gun salute thanks to the pop-pop-pop of the audience gamely popping along on their own sheets of bubble wrap.

The piece begins as Gindick -in pure clown style – pulls a kissing booth from a suitcase and goes about setting it up.  He adds some sultry bosa nova music to entice the would-be paramour, then leans back and waits.  And waits … and, well, you get the picture.

Soon enough he finds a radio station offering something to aid his pursuit and within moments a case of BAD-ASS arrives – full of everything he needs to get the girl.  It’s full of amazing bad-ass things (just opening the lid produces a flash of disco lights) which he immediately puts on.  A leather jacket, goggles … this kit means business.   The pocket of the jacket is filled with further bad-ass things: scissors (for running with), pop rocks and coke  (for mixing together … AND SWALLOWING!) Oh, this clown will stop at nothing to create the full effect.

Bit after bit shows off Gindick’s extraordinary talent at not only physical comedy but his broad range of styles.  One moment he’s playing furious air guitar, the next he’s channeling Gene Kelly.  Throughout it all he’s telling a story so richly textured that you’re actually saying “awwww” through your laughter, you’re on his side but he’s so hapless that you can’t help finding the humor in the situation … and of course that’s becuase you’re supposed to be finding it.  This is, after all, a clown’s story.

Director Barry Lubin spoke with me earlier about Wing-Man and explained his process when directing this piece; he said of Gindick “Mark is a sweet, wonderful, naturally funny, naturally loving and lovely guy. He makes himself vulnerable each time he is in front of an audience not because he manufactures that vulnerability, but because it is real. Mark wants our love and we love him for that”.  It’s clear that Lubin used Gindick’s natural earnestness to bring this piece to even higher levels; allowing the organic vulnerability to create space for the laughter.  And while that space is large, it is quickly filled … you barely have time to catch your breath before the laughter bubbles up again.

Eventually the various scenes lead to a satisfying conclusion in which Gindick pulls out all the stops (and the previously mention bubble wrap) and dances up a storm.  If you’re looking for a man who will make you laugh, entertain you and steal your heart look no further than Wing-Man.

Just two shows – last night and tonight.  I highly recommend you get over to The Brick and see this while you can.


Created and performed by Mark Gindick
Direction by David Shiner and Barry Lubin
Sun 9/25 @ 5pm
Playing as part of
Amuse Bouche 2011: A NY Clown Theatre Festival Hors d’Oeuvre
The Brick | 575 Metropolitan Ave | Brooklyn NY


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