Mump and Smoot: dispatches from the battlefield of clown horror

Michael Kennard and John Turner are clown duo Mump and Smoot.

Like all of us, Mump and Smoot are trapped in mortality. But they’re funny about it.

It’s not you, Mump and Smoot. It’s me. Maybe.

I have loved the duo Mump and Smoot for decades. Really. Since the ‘80s. These self-described “clowns of horror” always charm me and always push me towards hysteria. Their latest offering, Mump and Smoot in Anything, is no exception.

In it, they are imprisoned in a kind of existential hell by a ghoulish, white-gowned female figure named Knooma. Off the top, it’s established that every time Mump and Smoot try to venture beyond the prison of the stage—into the wings say, or through the fourth wall—they get electrocuted. Throughout the evening, Knooma presents them with a number of trials, which, from another angle, are vaudevillian sketches. In “The Escape”, they must free themselves from a small, barred cage. In “The Romp”, they negotiate competition, in the form of an equestrian contest. (The existential hell concept gets a little loose at this point.) And, in “The Remedy”, they take turns giving one another psychiatric exams.

Mump and Smoot are related to Ronald Macdonald and happy-slappy parade clowns only in your nightmares. Their shows always feature blood, dismemberment, and, usually, some form of disembowelment. Mump and Smoot play with the horror—and the absurdity—of mortality. Don’t bring your kids. [Read more…]