Comic Ithamar Enriquez does comedy — without words

SHARE Comic Ithamar Enriquez does comedy — without words

Even though the show is called “Ithamar Has Nothing To Say,” I told comedian Ithamar Enriquez I hoped he would not leave me in silence when he called recently to talk about his upcoming Chicago gigs (7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 12-20, at Donny’s Skybox Theatre in the Second City Training Center, 1616 N. Wells St.)Enriquez laughed as he admitted, “I haven’t pulled that out yet in one of these interviews, promoting the show around the country — but I may just do that and stay silent in one of them, just to see what happens!”Fortunately, the loquacious and articulate comic, who spent many years honing his comedy chops at Second City, didn’t pull that stunt with the Sun-Times. Instead, he launched into an explanation of the genesis of his one-man, silent act — and what he has observed while doing it.[one_third]

‘ITHAMAR HAS NOTHING TO SAY’ When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through June 20 Where: Donny’s Skybox Theatre, 161 N. Wells Tickets: $20 Info: 312-337-3992; www.secondcity.com

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“Growing up, I always loved all the physical comedians. Definitely Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, from the silent film era, but also some of the comedians who came after that, like Laurel and Hardy.“It really was about people who had no choice but to express themselves as physically as they could.As much as I loved all the slapstick guys likethe Three Stooges, what was so lovely and inspiring about Charlie Chaplin was that there was heart there. It wasn’t just comedy or slapstick for slapstick’s sake. He was always caught in a love story or an intriguing situation.“I just recently watched ‘The Kid’ (1921), which is such a sweet little movie where he finds a baby left on his doorstep and he kind of like raises it. It was interesting to see how they were able to convey that stuff without using dialogue. There were the screen cards with the dialogue written on it, but still they weren’t used that often, because you get what you’re doing just by a look that they give each other.”As he grew older, Enriquez was inspired by others. In particular he remembers watching Steve Martin in “All of Me,” where he’s trying to get Lily Tomlin’s body out of him.“The way he struggled so artfully with it — that just stayed in my mind,” said Enriquez.Other inspirations include Rowan Atkinson’sMr. Bean character or “anything that Mel Brooks has done — including his ‘Silent Movie,’ ” Enriquez said with a big laugh.Alot of people, he knows, come to his silent show not really knowing what to expect.Will it be a mime show? Is it some form of clown act? Is it a new riff on Blue Man Group or Cirque du Soleil?Enriquez stressed it is none of those things, claiming it’s “more like Mr. Bean. It’s more about me in situations where I’m not speaking. You’re seeing me going through those situations on stage, with music being a big part of it as well.”The accompanimentusually comes first. “I come up with a piece of music and that will lead me to think of this kind of person or that kind of situation,” Enriquez said. “It’s the music that can set the tone, so to speak.“However, I also do come up with a physical bit and then have to go out and figure what piece of music will fit it. So, it can work both ways.“What’s so interesting is to see people’s reaction to my show. Nowadays, everyone does have something to say and — thanks to social media — they damn well make sure everybody hears them saying it!“So to stick out, by not saying anything, has been a real journey of discovery for me.”Sharing some examples of the kinds of sketches he works into his show, Enriquez mentioned “a scene where I play three different guys at the Green Mill [up on Broadway in Chicago] taking in jazz music. It’s fun to see how people take in music in general, when they don’t necessarily know they are moving to music or how they move to the music.”Another bit has Enriquez as a traffic cop who gets carried away with his movements directing traffic in rush hour. That was inspired by a female police officer the comedian observed in Hollywood.“She was running things. She was having the time of her life. Every movement she did radiated the feeling that ‘This is my time!’ And she did it with as much panache, sass and pizzazz as possible.”For Enriquez, developing the show “forced myself to sit back and watch people and what they do physically, on a daily basis. It’s been a great help to me in putting the show together, because this silent show is all about physicality and expressing humor through my body and facial expressions.”One of the more gratifying aspects of “Ithamar Has Nothing to Say” has been the responseafter the show is over. Recently, he was in Charleston, South Carolina, for the Spoleto Festival, and the day after performing his silent show, he was approached on the street by an elderly couple.“The woman told me, ‘I can’t hear very well, and I really appreciated your doing that show, because I didn’t have to worry about what you were saying!’ “Working silent feels new to many people, because they likely haven’t seen it done before, yet Enriquez pointed out, “It’s one of the oldest art forms ever. What’s fun for me is taking this ancient form of performing and simply putting a modern spin on it.”The performer knows he can literally go all over the world with his show.“As I tell everyone, ‘You can bring people to the show who don’t speak English, or are hard of hearing, and they will enjoy it just as much as people born in Chicago who have perfect hearing!”

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