Yup, clowns. Edgy Toronto theatre featuring a couple of clowns named Morro and Jasp. It is not at all what you expect, but it is more hilarity than you can imagine. The Toronto Clown scene runs deeper than you think, and after my first taste of this world at the 2014 Toronto Festival of Clowns, where I was first introduced to Morro and Jasp, I have a new and growing appreciation for the slapstick, physical, comedic entertainment that our Toronto clowns can offer. Morro are Jasp are leading the great clown revival in Toronto, and once you enter this world you become acutely aware of their celebrity status within this new (old?) art form. They have risen to clown fame in our great city, and for good reason. They are hilarious. They are so well timed, so well tuned, and so gosh darn fun that seeing them perform for 75 minutes will leave you with sore cheeks from smiling so much.
Their new show, Morro & Jasp – 9 to 5 at the Factory Theatre highlights their talent as a powerful clown duo. Sick and tired of the daily grind of ill-fitting jobs at the mall and fast food eateries, Morro and Jasp decide to take on Corporate Canada. They take us on their journey as they embark on Day 1 at their new start up company. Jasp, the self proclaimed CEO of JMI Industries shows us what it takes to be a strong leader in today’s economic climate, while Morro reminds us of the creativity and perseverance that is required to get the job done. And by all that I mean to say: we get to witness the absurdity that ensues when two extremely non-corporate clowns try to start a company of their own. The product of said company TBD.
As part of the clown theatre experience, this show is highly interactive with the audience. Jasp and Morro are both seasoned performers, but they truly come into their own when they’ve warmed up their audience and opportunities for improv present themselves. Jasp’s comedic timing is incredible, and makes me wonder if she is BFF with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig. She is just that sharp and funny. Morro’s slapstick physical comedy is hilarious without being crude or unnecessarily violent. A rarity in the current (and traditional?) world of slapstick humour.
The Factory Theatre is the perfect venue for this show, and for Morro and Jasp. The lecture hall seating is intimate and familiar, and allows for the performers to pull from the audience as needed – be it audience interaction or full-on audience member participation. (*Speaking from personal experience playing the part of Human Resources, this participation is nothing to be frightened of. It is fun and non-threatening, and makes the experience even more enjoyable! That said, if you are fearful of the spotlight even in an intimate theatre setting, don’t look any clowns in the eye when they look at you.)
And in a way that only two talented women could, the show ends on sentimental high note of loveliness. You have to go see it to understand. Morro & Jasp 9 – 5 is a joyful way to spend your evening. It comes highly recommended for all ages above 14.
Photo: Amy Lee and Heather Annis as Morro & Jasp. Photo by Alex Nirta.