Mump & Smoot are a Canadian clown duo created by Michael Kennard and John Turner in 1988. Their shared penchant for human fears, magic, spiritualism, personal values and dreaming resulted in the creation of two clowns of horror with the joint credo, "Enjoy the process of living." These clowns reside on the planet Ummo, worship their clown god Ummo, and speak their own brand of gibberish - Ummonian.
Michael and John met in 1986 in Second City workshops. As a duo they discovered they had a good connection, especially when doing gibberish exercises. They decided to work together beginning with homemade comedy videos. It was also in Second City workshops that they met and began working with director Karen Hines, who has gone on to direct all of their shows and is integral from the developmental phase through to full production.
Within a couple of months news came of a highly acclaimed clown course taught by the man who would become their mentor, the late Richard Pochinko. They quickly enrolled. Sixteen years ago, on Friday the 13th of May, 1988, Mump & Smoot were born in their first show Jump the Gun.
Their distinctive style of clowning finds its roots deep within their work with Pochinko who borrowed from many traditions including AmerIndian, American and European to create a unique form of training he called Canadian Clowning. They have also trained extensively with their movement coach Fiona Griffiths and clown teacher Ian Wallace. Workshops with Philippe Gaulier in Bouffon and John Towsen in physical comedy have also been influential.
Apart from numerous short sketches their primary repertoire includes six full length shows, Something-1989, Caged-1990, Ferno-1992, Tense-1997, Something Else-1998 and Flux-2002. Their critical acclaim and popularity was developed through consistent sell-outs in the fringe festivals across Canada, which has lead them on to enjoy successful runs in Toronto and at numerous North American regional theatres. These include: The Canadian Stage Company in Toronto (Canadian Comedy Award, Best Performers-Something Else, Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Best Production, Best Director-Flux), Yale Repertory Theatre (Associate Artists 1994-2001), The American Repertory Theatre in Boston (Boston Theatre Award for Outstanding Small Visiting Company), The La Jolla Playhouse in California (Drama Logue award for best actors), The Dallas Theatre Centre, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, the Globe Theatre in Regina, and the World Stage Festival in Toronto. They also had the unique opportunity to perform at two festivals in Israel and teach a clown workshop at the University of Tel Aviv to a class made up of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Although their main focus has been theatre Mike and John have also had many television appearances as well. As Mump & Smoot their appearances include; the C.B.C.'s Edmonton Comedy Festival, Adrienne Clarkson, Friday Night Live, The Genie Awards, Midday, and Toronto After Hours, C.T.V.'s Canadian Comedy Awards and Dini Petty, the Comedy Network's Cream of Comedy, HBO's Best of the US Comedy Arts Festival, and several appearances on City's Breakfast Television. Mike and John also wrote and performed in Global's children's show, The Blue Rainbow, for three seasons as two other clowns Dirk & Drock. They have also appeared in two short films through the Canadian Film Centre: their own short The Princess Who Wouldn't Smile directed by Paul Quarrington, and the award winning The Fairy Who Didn't Want To Be A Fairy Anymore directed by Laurie Lind.
In 1997 Mike and John opened The SPACE (Studio for Physical and Clown Exploration). It is here they taught clown, created and rehearsed their shows, produced monthly soirees, and directed and workshopped numerous student productions. The SPACE received no arts council funding; however, with the outstanding clown community support The SPACE was one of the most popular centres for independent theatre until they closed their doors in 2002 after six great years.
Mump & Smoot have received substantial financial support from the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Special mention should also be made of the Fringe Festivals of Canada. These festivals have been invaluable in the encouragement and development of Mump & Smoot to say nothing of Canadian theatre in general.