‘Awesome’ clown displays varied talents in one-man show
Lance McGee is a multi-talented fool — fool being his designation for Unique Derique, his stage persona and alter ego.
He works astoundingly hard while displaying his clown character’s skills in a matinee show at The Marsh: executing physical comedy that turns silliness into an art, juggling (tri-colored scarves, orange bowling pins, luminous balls, sundry hats), dancing, feather-balancing, unicycling and amiably turning audience volunteers into comic foils without embarrassing them.
Not to mention electronic hamboning, rhythmically making music by slapping his body while hooked up wirelessly to recorded melodies and sounds.
It’s a feel-good performance fruitfully aimed at families who want to laugh and smile for a full hour — from kids barely more than three feet tall to their slightly shrunken grandparents.
My 11-year-old granddaughter summed up her reaction this way: “Awesome, everything was awesome” — especially, she added, the hamboning.
I couldn’t argue with her assessment.
The heavily slapstick, circus-inspired encore run of “Fool La La Over the Rainbow,” written and performed by a Berkeley native who revels in his “clown prince of fools” marquee moniker, showcased tight direction by Calvin Kai Ku that made the one-man show zoom by.
Aided significantly, I’d say, by the wide range of music Derique employed — hip hop, classic rock, pop, ragtime (and even a traditional Italian refrain).
For most of the show, the entertainer — who has shared stages with Bobby McFerrin, the Temptations, Lou Rawls and Sammy Davis Jr. — was clad in an amusing outfit replete with clashing polka dots and stripes, one black sneaker and one white, and glassless oversized white-rimmed glasses.
Derique’s day job is as a wellness consultant and mindfulness coach for middle-school educators. But he’s been a “fool” for a long time. He began clown training, in fact, at age 15 with Berkeley’s Circus A La Mode, then went on to San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus and Make*A*Circus.
“Fool La La Over the Rainbow,” which thematically borrows from “The Wizard of Oz,” was followed by a free 20-minute workshop for any theatergoer willing to learn how to juggle scarves and use his or her body as a percussion instrument.
I had to skip it, though. I needed to rush home for my geezer nap because Derique had kept me wide awake and chortling the entire time.
“Fool La La Over the Rainbow” plays at The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. (at 22nd), San Francisco, through May 6. Performances: 1 p.m. Sundays (except for April 29). Tickets: $15 to $35 (plus $55 and $100 reserved seating). Information: (415) 282-3055 or (415) 826-5750 or www.themarsh.org.