Funny Bones

An Interview with Michael Mortiz

International School of Humour Workshop - March 3rd to 6th

RED NOSES International (RNI) regularly invites renowned experts to the International School of Humour (ISH) to share their expertise with our artists. 

In March, we had the pleasure of inviting back Michael Moritz. Through a distinctive physical style of acting, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge having been previously engaged with artistic institutions such as the Staatstheater in Stuttgart, the Schauspielhaus in Zurich and the Vienna Burgtheater.

As we sit down to prepare for the interview, Michael is composed and carefully chooses each word. He shares with us insights on how to communicate without words and how to tell funny stories with only a simple wave of your arm.  

RNI: Good morning Michael. Let’s start from the beginning. What can you tell us about the workshop?

M: Good morning to you! I want participants to craft comedic stories only with their bodies. We will not speak much.

I will teach them another lesson as well - to keep in mind a simple truth. You have to accept the weight your body. Everything else comes naturally. All of your movements flow once you realize this. All that needs to be communicated is through body language. All is open, there are no secrets.

RNI: So what sort of skills will you emphasize for the clowns?

M: Like I said, it is all about the physical aspect of theatre. We will cover funny walks, dancing, and other sorts of playing. It’s important to incorporate these actions into their everyday work. 
What is unique about my workshop is how to increase the non-verbal communication between partners. Since they work together as a couple, they need to know how to work in harmony without interrupting the playful interaction.

RNI: That sounds complicated. How did you come to the point in your career to learn these techniques? In fact, why did you become an instructor?

M: I have my own traveling act as a clown, where I engage the audience in a comedic show. I am on the road often, but I always return to teach. It is a pleasure for me, to share my experience and knowledge.

I am in constant contact with Giora Seeliger, the Artistic Director of RNI. He and I worked together on numerous projects. He knows what I am capable of, but also what I can offer to his artists. It was a logical connection.

RNI: You are also a clown?! What first inspired you to become a clown?

M: Watching Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy was a favourite pass time of mine growing up. Seeing their skits, seeing their comedy double act inspired me to want to make people laugh. If they could do it, so could I!

RNI: They’re not the traditional notion of a clown though, are they? What is your idea of what is a clown?

M: No, you’re right. For me, a clown is someone who challenges failures and strives to find solutions. 

RNI: What was your first experience with hospital clowns then?

M: Well that’s easy. Here. It has been a fun experience. I’ve given five or six workshops now with RED NOSES International. I enjoy working with these artists. For me, they are like my regular pupils. They show up to learn and they are eager to expand their skill repertoire.

It is rewarding for me to be with people who want to learn. It also helps me to develop new work and incorporate those lessons into my own productions.

RNI: Thanks for taking time to talk with us this morning.


Photo Credits: Andrea Kaindl

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