History of Mump and Smoot

Oct 07, 2010

Mump & Smoot are the comic creations of Michael Kennard and John Turner. They are also referred to as clowns of horror. They inhabit a parallel universe called Ummo, worship a god named Ummo and speak their own brand of gibberish, Ummonian.  Together they turn every convention about clowns upside down in a series of darkly humorous shows that range from the zany to the macabre.
Michael and John met in 1986 in Second City workshops. As a duo they discovered they had a good connection, especially when doing gibberish exercises. They decided to work together beginning with homemade comedy videos.  It was also in Second City workshops that they met and began working with director Karen Hines, who has gone on to direct all of their shows and is integral from the developmental phase through to full production.
Within a couple of months news came of a highly acclaimed clown course taught by the man who would become their mentor, the late Richard Pochinko. They quickly enrolled. Twenty years ago, on Friday the 13th of May, 1988, Mump & Smoot were born in their first show Jump the Gun.
“Long live Mump and Smoot.” – Globe & Mail
Their distinctive style of clowning finds its roots deep within their work with Pochinko who borrowed from many traditions including AmerIndian, American and European to create a unique form of training he called Canadian Clowning. They have also trained extensively with their 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.
Apart from numerous short sketches their primary repertoire includes six full-length shows, Something (1989), Caged (1990), Ferno (1992), Tense (1997), Something Else (1998) and Flux (2002). Their critical acclaim and popularity was developed through consistent sell-outs in the fringe festival’s across Canada. They then went on to have successful runs at many major regional theatres including the La Jolla Playhouse, the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven where they were Associate Artists for seven years, the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Center Stage in Baltimore, the Dallas Theater Center, Alberta Theatre Project in Calgary, and at the Canadian Stage Berkeley Street in Toronto.
“Mump & Smoot are a national treasure” – Edmonton Sun
Mump & Smoot have also appeared Off-Broadway at the Astor Place Theater in New York, and at the Palestinian National Theatre and the Acco Theatre Festival in Israel. This dynamic duo won two Dora Mavor Moore awards in June 2003 – one for Outstanding Production (Mump & Smoot in Flux) and another to Karen Hines for Direction. They were also nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Comedic Play (Mump & Smoot in Flux) and are past recipients of a Canadian Comedy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedic Play. They have also won the Outstanding Small Visiting Company Award at the Boston Theater Awards and have appeared in the Genie-Award winning film The Fairy Who Didn’t Want To Be A Fairy Anymore as well as their own Canadian Film Centre short The Princess Who Wouldn’t Smile.