Clownarchy Rules!

Drew Richardson used to be your everyday clown, performing the kind of shtick everyone does who studies clowning in theater school. But over the years his work has become smarter and more insightful, with the kind of honest emotional undercurrent that comes only when a performer is comfortable opening up onstage. Richardson has perfected the baby-faced naif, the sweet, blue-eyed innocent who finds himself thrown into a world of stubborn appliances and hostile laws of physics. Even when his premise is intellectual–as it is in “The Psychology of Clumsiness,” exploring current theories of how the brain functions–it’s his ability to alternately emulate an overintellectualizing adult and an enchanted preschooler that makes the work hilarious. Especially killing is Richardson’s illustration of the difference between left- and right-brain thinking, as he tells a story, rebus-style, using such props as old magazines, Barbie dolls, and rubber chickens. If you don’t leave knowing a little more about the human brain than you did before, you were probably laughing too hard. Richardson performs as part of “Clownarchy Rules!,” a two-weekend festival curated by George Fuller that showcases some of Chicago’s most accomplished and eccentric clowns. Performing with Richardson the first week will be clown-modern dancer Asimina Chremos and acrobat Paul Kalina with Voki Kalkayan and Sarah Nichols. Next weekend the festival turns to local postmodern talents Adrian Danzig, Douglas Grew, and Brad Weston. Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824. Opens Friday, January 22, 8 PM. Through January 30: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10 per evening.

–Jack Helbig