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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Flanagan’s Kaput

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After sell-out shows touring across four continents, self-proclaimed ‘elegant buffoon’ Tom Flanagan returns to the Brunswick Picture House with his award-winning show KAPUT!

Described as ‘physical comedy at its best’, Kaput! revives the art of silent movie-esque slapstick and has picked up countless awards across the world. This sweet family show has melted hearts of all ages with its glorious brand of slapstick, acrobatics and total silliness.

So what is an Elegant Buffon?

It’s an oxymoron, like me! Come see Kaput! and I’ll tell you all about it… without speaking. Someone once wrote this about me in a review and it has definitely stuck. I believe it has something to do with my managing to make being an idiot into a professional pursuit. Think of how elegant the classic slapstick clowns such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were in those old silent movies. That’s what Kaput! is reviving: the simple and universally engaging humour of buffoonery.

How did you start clowning?

Mum says I’ve been a clown since day one. For me I started honing my clowning the minute I knew I could get a laugh. The day I figured out I could get paid for it was the cherry on top.

How much training do you need to do each week to keep your fitness and form as an acrobat?

Far too much! As a child in the Flying Fruit Fly Circus I trained five days a week from the age of six. If you add up every hour I spent learning new skills, practising and then performing them, I think it would equal more time than I’ve spent on anything else, including eating, and I love eating. My favourite thing is to be performing every day so I don’t need to train; that is my happy place: being among the mayhem and making people happy.

Does a time come when you think: I am too old for this, I might pop a hip?

Ummm, every day since I was 12.

What has been the most remarkable thing about your career, do you think?

One of the coolest thing my career has afforded me is the opportunity to travel with my work. My life is never dull and I have made incredible friends all around the world. For instance, last year I was in Hong Kong performing Kaput!, learning Cantonese and eating the best hot-pot soup in the world one minute, and the next I had to quickly grow a beard and get to London to perform with a Quebecois circus troupe in a show called Barbu (it’s French for beard). No matter where I am, if I have my circus family I feel at home.

What did your mum hope you’d do when you finished school?

Mum just hoped that one day I would stop doing double backsaults off the roof of the house. She got her wish; now I just do them off a ladder while holding a bucket of glue (maybe a spoiler from Kaput!).

What advice would you have for young aspirants in the circus field?

Work hard. Respect your elders. Have a healthy amount of fear. Most importantly: have fun.

Why is there such camaraderie in your industry? From the outside looking in, it always looks like a big funky family.

The ‘circus industry’ is generally called the ‘circus community’ to us. For me, the thing that keeps the community so close is the equality; the person banging in tent poles is just as important as the ringmaster; the amateur is just as looked after as the professional; every body type, every skill level. Everyone in the circus has their place and everyone is respected.

What should we expect for your upcoming show?

You know how a Pixar film can entertain the hell out of your little ones but manages to make you giggle at jokes that fly right over your kids’ heads? That’s where Kaput! works the best. It’s one hour of silent slapstick acrobatic madness that a five-year-old, a fifteen-year-old, a fifty-year-old and ninety-five-year-old will adore.

Saturday and Sunday at The Brunswick Picture House at 2pm. Tickets on brunswickpicturehouse.com.

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