Internationally renowned Bambouk is two guys making people laugh — at Bright Night
12/30/2010 01:00 AM EST
By Rick Massimo
Journal Pop Music Writer The New York-based clown duo Bambouk, comprising Brian Foley and Matthew Duncan, are making their first visit to Rhode Island on Friday to headline the Bright Night celebration, but the pair has a lot of miles under their belts.
The red-nosed, bald-headed, formally dressed duo juggle, ride a six-foot unicycle, play the accordion, make music by bouncing balls off bass drums and more, combining the simplicity of wordless movement with impressive showbiz skills.
New York magazine said “This duo will instill a love of the clowning that mostly expired with Buster Keaton,” and a quick look at any of their videos (available on their website, www.bambouk.com, or on YouTube) will confirm that.
Foley and Duncan met in 2003 at a theme park where they were both jugglers, and Foley says, “we both realized that we had skill sets that were complementary. I was a vocalist and he was an instrumentalist. He was a juggler and I was a magician with a few juggling skills as well. And when you put all that together it makes for a pretty good variety show.”
It’s a pretty good variety show that has gone from the Midwest to California, China, Puerto Rico and Alaska, to comedy festivals and theaters, cruise ships and more.
“Everywhere we go,” Foley says, “we learn something different, but we always learn that people love to laugh.”
One reason the duo gets to do so many international shows is their mostly language-free show. Silent comedy (“we like to say we’re a mostly silent show. I tend to have a hard time keeping my big mouth shut”) affords them the opportunity to get around language barriers, but it also has aesthetic advantages.
“That’s what our heroes did,” Foley says, citing influences such as Victor Borge, Bill Irwin and Dick Franco, all of whom had “these tight acts that could play anywhere in the world.
“And when you’re not a slave to the text, you need to key into something that is more at the core of humanity. And that’s something that everyone can relate to. You leave the comedy more open to interpretation, and hopefully everyone can find something that relates to them directly.”
Bright Night runs noon to midnight on Friday at various venues throughout downtown Providence. For a full schedule, map of venues and ticket locations, go to www.brightnight.org or call (401) 621-6123.