Billy The Mime was a show I absolutely wanted to see ever since I saw a clip at the at the Flying Solo press conference held to launch this new series and show format at the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival. I had seen Billy The Mime in The Aristocrats and he was my pick for best of that DVD.
Billy The Mime ( www.billythemime.net ) was an excellent show. Paul Provenza, the producer of the Flying Solo series was kind enough to put in a word and the nice folks at Just For Laughs got me two ticks. I like watching a show with someone else because you get another opinion. IN this case, the guest was one of my two sisters. I never quite know what she is going to think about something as her comedic sensitivities are still a mystery to me. She had a very good time. I had a brilliant experience.
Everybody hates mimes but Billy The Mime is not really a mime. Yes, he has the white shirt, black pants, and white face of the Marcel Marceau tradition, but he is a silent comic whose ability to communicate using only his face, body, and sometimes music simply astounds. The audience is with him from the moment he starts. Every gesture, every expression, every step is carefully planned out and clearly delivers its message. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Billy The Mime is worth the complete Oxford English Dictionary.
This artist has some 34 possible visual stories to choose from so each show has to be different from the previous one. I was treated to Priest & Altar Boy, JFK jr, We Hardly Knew Ye, Romance, Close to Her Karen Carpenter, World War II --a tour de force in a series of brilliant bits-A Night in San Francisco 1979 about the outbreak of AIDS, and Abortion.
The greatest moment was A Day Called 9/11. This is the most serious comedy bit I have ever seen or heard about the topic. The one thing that totally baffled me was people going oooooh when Billy The Mime played the part of the Muslim suicide bomber. He did not do anything remotely offensive and yet people were uncomfortable about his depicting a Muslim. Have we become so politically correct as to ignore simple historical facts? After all, it was not a troll or a Hawaiian who brought down the towers: they were Muslim.
The closer this evening was The Clown and The Beautiful Woman. Here, this great artist was assisted by a more or less willing at first member of the audience. He was able to make her understand her part and played to her strengths as a rookie mime.
Theatre Ste-Catherine is a hole in the wall kind of joint with four chairs on each side of the aisle and not that many rows. Sitting somewhere near the back of the theatre I had a petty good view of Billy The Mime although sometimes I had to do a little bobbing and weaving. If this great artist ever performs in such a small venue I would suggest using the screen above the stage to project a simulcast.
Still, it does not matter where this wonderful and brilliant artist is, you have to go see him.