Marcel and The Art of Laughter
Closed 2h 15m
Marcel and The Art of Laughter
84

Marcel and The Art of Laughter NYC Reviews and Tickets

84%
(57 Reviews)
Positive
98%
Mixed
2%
Negative
0%
Members say
Delightful, Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Masterful

About the Show

Theatre for a New Audience presents this double bill of comic one acts. 'Marcel': a poignant two-hander about the collision of clowning and mortality, and 'The Art of Laughter': a comedy about comedy.

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Member Reviews (57)

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84
Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Profound, Funny

See it if You want to see a masterclass in physical comedy then get a very funny lesson about how it’s done. Delightful and clever. Talented players.

Don't see it if You don’t like slapstick or physical comedy or would prefer to see a play or musical. This is neither.

90
Delightful, Funny, Thought-provoking, Enchanting, Heartwarming

See it if Marcel: aging performer tries to pass an existential test about nothing. Art of L: how loss of dignity underlies humor. Wonderful stuff.

Don't see it if You are not interested in physical humor plus some underlying pathos and meaning.

Critic Reviews (13)

The New York Times
November 1st, 2017

"’Marcel’ and ‘The Art of Laughter’ are more amusing and instructive than hilarious. Your gut will remain unbusted...'Marcel': Though many bits are delightfully imaginative, others cross the whimsy line and become cloying...'Art': In the manner of a professor studding a seminar with demonstrations, Houben shows that he can manipulate our laughter as easily as Marcel manipulated the bowler hat earlier...Houben’s astounding mimetic skill is not just math, it’s showmanship."
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Time Out New York
November 1st, 2017

“In ‘Marcel’, Magni strives to surmount inane barriers to success, his taskmaster seems determined to keep raising the bar. While this business is not always funny, Magni’s charm keeps it from being tiresome...The show perks up when Houben takes the stage in his ‘The Art of Laughter’...He embarks on a practicum of fumbles and pratfalls; his minutely calibrated body language is brilliant.”
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Lighting & Sound America
November 2nd, 2017

"The performances are elegantly minimal; there isn't a single excess gesture. Even when the action turns relatively frantic, you feel that both are totally in control -- almost relaxed -- as they practice their own personal brand of mayhem. 'Marcel' and 'The Art of Laughter' offer something very rare -- humor in its purest form, presented with no small intelligence and cockeyed goodwill. It is all but guaranteed to give you a lift."
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TheaterScene.net
November 2nd, 2017

"'Marcel' is an hour-long mediation on time and aging...Whether it’s all actually funny and profound is dependent on one’s taste. It’s possible to be in hysterics or bored due to the length...'The Art of Laughter' is a droll lecture superbly delivered by Houben...For an hour, he commandingly exhibits his sensational movement skills and his effortless and highly effective comic timing...This second portion of the show is supreme entertainment."
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Theater Pizzazz
November 1st, 2017

“In 'Marcel,' an extended…vaudeville sketch, the audience is treated as both Magni's friend and…his enemy…His character…is a deceptively hapless everyman bumbling with masterful aplomb to hide the infirmities of age…Poignant and well done as it is, it's not quite up to the imaginative level of 'Old Hats'…'The Art of Laughter'…is a fascinating, hour-long monologue by Houben, which begins slowly and soon enough ensnares you in what is closer to a lecture-demonstration than a 'play.'”
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CurtainUp
November 4th, 2017

“A study in contrasts...Many in the audience found 'Marcel' breathtakingly funny. For those of us who couldn't figure out what was so funny about 'Marcel,' Houben attempted to provide the answer in 'The Art of Laughter'...There is something quite American about their humor. This is probably because slapstick has a unique language that does not entail words...Some people find this language very funny. Some don't.”
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Stage Buddy
November 9th, 2017

"The two are quite charming and playful...'Marcel' is pretty silly and slapstick, particularly with a joke involving a bottle of water, but becomes rather poignant...If 'Marcel' demonstrates the pair’s predilection for pratfalls, 'Laughter' deconstructs them. A 'master class' in how to elicit laughter...The sequence of the two plays is brilliant...Masterful creations of physical performance from two seasoned artists. The hilarious antics of Houben and Magni are a joy to watch."
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Off Off Online
November 5th, 2017

"'Marcel' has a particular European sensibility that’s engaging, offbeat and sometimes strangely familiar...Although there is speaking in the piece, the primary thrust is physical business rendered with precise comic timing...More often the comic business just arises spontaneously...The end has some unexpected poignancy...Both men are connoisseurs at what makes an audience laugh, and the whole production is both informative and full of delights."
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Epoch Times
November 13th, 2017

"The second act functions as a coda, though each works perfectly as a stand-alone offering. Not hysterically funny by any means, but definitely enjoyable, insightful, and presented by two first-rate performers, 'Marcel + The Art of Laughter' provides an excellent example of what comedy can be and how, while we may all find different things funny, we all enjoy having a good laugh."
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The Guardian (UK)
January 10th, 2016
For a previous production

"A funny, heart-breaking show...Right from the start the fourth wall is breached and the show continually reaches out to the audience, playing us with a knowing sweetness...It’s a brief hour that gives the kiss of life to the ancient art of the gag, and it echoes not just to the laughter of this particular audience but of all audiences who, down through the ages, have laughed and recognized their own absurdity in the comic antics of the clown."
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The Stage (UK)
January 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"The overall impression is of childlike clowning combined with ageing innocence, and light-fingered slapstick which is mildly entertaining...While there is some discernible progression, the production suffers from a lack of structure, though the evident chemistry between the two performers prevents it from slipping into random banality...Occasionally poignant but not very penetrating...The kind of piece which ends up penciled rather than inked on the memory."
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Plays to See
January 11th, 2016
For a previous production

"Houben has honed his technique to perfection and so his soliloquy on laughter is a detailed analysis of the human body and psyche...Every aspect of our movement, reactions, emotional state and surrounding environment has comedic potential. Throw in the mix a talented, eloquent, and witty performer delivering a flowing and example-rich lecture...and you get an hour-long hilarious delight with sprinklings of anthropology and psychology."
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A Younger Theatre
January 14th, 2016
For a previous production

"A masterclass in physical acting that explores the cause and effect of laughter...Houben picks out the details we subconsciously notice and consciously shows us their comic potential...Houben’s confident manner demands the attention of the audience...Houben’s demonstration of different ways of walking, moving our head, or gesturing causes great hilarity amongst audience members...His dissection of physicality is fascinating and very informative not only for actors, but for everyone."
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