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Mump and Smoot

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Mump and Smoot are a Canadian clown duo created by Michael Kennard and John Turner, directed by Karen Hines. Also referred to as 'clowns of horror' they've produced interactive, improvisational plays aimed squarely at adult audiences.



Kennard and Turner met in Toronto in 1986 in Second City workshops, where they discovered a mutual talent for improvising with gibberish dialogue. While at Second City, they met Karen Hines, who has directed all their shows. Kennard and Turner also studied under Richard Pochinko in a new field of what he called Canadian Clowning. On May 13, 1988, Mump and Smoot presented their first show, Jump the Gun. Since then they have played fringe theaters throughout Canada, regional theaters and festivals, the American Repertory Theater, associate artist positions at the Yale Repertory Theater, and Israeli and Palestinian festivals culminating with a joint workshop for Israelis and Palestinians together. In addition to theater, Mump and Smoot have made numerous television appearances and two short films, including Laurie Lynd's The Fairy Who Didn't Want to Be a Fairy Anymore.

Outside their Mump and Smoot personae, Kennard and Turner ran The SPACE (Studio for Physical and Clown Exploration) in Toronto from 1997 through 2002, where they not only worked on their shows, but also taught clown and presented workshops, student theater, and other productions. Along with Hines, they continue to present workshops and courses in clown, movement, and physical comedy.


Mump and Smoot live on the planet Ummo and worship the deity Ummo, as long as he might be responsive to their prayers. Their dialogue is in their native language of Ummonian, which is nevertheless clear to the audience (who often play a part in the performance). They combine influences from sources including Monty Python, the Three Stooges, I Love Lucy, Alfred Jarry, Samuel Beckett, and Antonin Artaud to elicit in their audience the peculiar mix of sympathy, empathy, schadenfreude, and horror that stem from watching flawed individuals alternately fail and succeed at their petty but all too human schemes. Mump and Smoot shows are said to seem so spontaneous that people sometimes forget that they are scripted. To obtain this effect, Michael Kennard and John Turner use an improvisational technique rooted in an art called 'Canadian Clown' developed by Canadian Richard Pochinko in the 1980s. Pochinko's style borrowed from many traditions including AmerIndian, American and European clowning and it has a similar effect to the audience-interactive improvisation practiced by the Blue Man Group. Kennard and Turner have also trained with 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.

Mump, (The Joey) played by Kennard, is the natural leader; authoritative, pompous, bullying, scheming and manipulative, alternately erupting in towering violent rages and completely collapsing from terror. Smoot, (The Auguste) played by Turner, is the perpetual innocent; playful, childlike, silly, bullied by Mump but occasionally standing up to him.

The plays occur in a world of surrealistic set design, with simple props combined with haunting and evocative music (by Greg Morrison) and sound effects providing an overall impression of a vast and uncaring universe inhabited by powers beyond the scale of mere Ummonians.


  • The Dentist (1989; premiere in Toronto)
  • Something (1989)
  • Caged (1990)
  • Ferno (1992)
  • Pitooey (1995; premiere in Edmonton)
  • Something Else (1998)
  • Flux (2002)
  • Cracked (2010; premiere in Vancouver, Canada)
  • Anything (2014; premiere in Edmonton)
  • Awards

    2003 Dora Mavor Moore award - Outstanding Production 2003 Dora Mavor Moore award - Direction (Karen Hines) Nomination for Canadian Comedy Award for Comedic Play (Mump & Smoot in Flux) Canadian Comedy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedic Play.


    Mump and Smoot Wikipedia