Sunday, February 5, 2012

Not Exactly Physical Comedy: Wall Trampolining

[post 238]

Apparatus such as unicycles and trampolines are built for stunts. They're cool and all, and excellent comedy has certainly been done with both, but I've always been more drawn to physical comedy that uses objects commonly found in the real world — chairs, tables, doors, stairs, etc. Maybe that's why I also like parkour and flair bartending, living proof of the appeal of circus techniques applied to everyday life.

So all things being equal, I prefer a comedy bicycle act to a comedy unicycle act, and I've most enjoyed trampolining that has incorporated other scenic elements into the act. One such element is a wall (and platform),  transforming trampolining into — you guessed it — wall trampolining. Cirque du Soleil has been doing some version of this for a couple of decades, but now it is is attracting participation by dedicated amateurs and is being touted as the latest, greatest extreme sport, as evidenced by this video piece in last week's NY Times:




Here's the Julien Roberge routine mentioned above.



More theatrical was the wall trampoline act I saw almost two years ago in Cirque de Soleil's Ovo. The sheer number of acrobats and the use of a customized climbing wall, with all its nooks and crannies to hold and step onto, creates a multitude of variations. Here's a one-minute excerpt:

video

Not exactly physical comedy, but you can see the potential, and I do seem to recall there being a few "king-of-the-mountain" comic moments as rival leapers struggled to supplant one another atop the wall. Likewise, actors (or their stunt doubles) and physical comedians have for centuries been using springboards (usually concealed) to catapult them to heights and distances they could not otherwise reach — what you might call "augmented reality."

Click here for the 2008 showreel for trampolinist, stuntman, and freerunner Damien Walters. This one's all wall trampolining.

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