Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mime War

Two faces go head to head to win Rosebank crowd

On Saturday morning in the enclosed courtyard of a Rosebank mall, two mimes went head to head in a desperate face-off. The one was a polished virtuoso who had gone to a lot of trouble dressing himself up in a dark suit and applying clown white make-up. The other was a teenager who might have been a passing skateboarder. Very soon, a crowd gathered, and began to show their appreciation.

The chessboard mime was first on the scene; his slick moves quickly attracted the attention of a few tiny tots. At one point, when the mime was in ‘frozen’ mode, a teenager walking with her boyfriend stepped right up to him and waved her hand inches from his face. Not long after this a teenager emerged at the foot of the escalator, placed his backpack and hat on the ground, and did a few absurd star jumps, rolled on the ground and then popped up and froze.

The crowd participated in the face off, encouraging the mimes to do their best by first throwing some money into the white box, and then, as if to say: ‘Let’s see what YOU can do!’, depositing some money in the cheeky teenager’s downy blue hat.

The chessboard mime did an expert routine each time, with well rehearsed mechanical like moves based on some kind of internal clockwork. The kid though would do the opposite: he would hop around ridiculously like a baboon on dagga, throw himself onto the ground like a suicidal footskater, and then freeze, pointing to his purse.

It was the contrasting performances of the two mimes that began to attract attention, and chortles of delight. I was eating a late breakfast at Kauai, amused by the antics of people around the chessboard fellow, when the Kauai staff began to congregate at the entrance. When I noticed them looking to the right, I went outside and joined a small but growing throng of people.

It was hilarious to first watch Mr Chessboard’s robot routine and then see The Kid basically do a demonstration of the worst mime, except finishing each routine by freezing in an absurdly funny stance.

Mime is inherently funny when you think about it. Paying someone to do something absurd on your command is the stuff of drunk parties, not your average day at the mall. And a failure to pay means the poor mime can stand around for ages, trying not to blink or move whilst being harassed by small children who will poke, prod or pinch; anything to elicit a human response.

It was great fun to see so many people on Saturday laughing spontaneously. In the end The Kid’s gutsy moves won over the crowd (I thought) but Mr Chessboard got an ‘A’ for effort.
The question is: will they be back next Saturday for round 2 of WWM*?
WWM: World’s Wackiest Mimes

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