JOHNSON CITY (Oct. 31, 2013) — In the 1950s, there were Sid Caesar and Red Skelton. In the ’60s and ’70s Jonathan Winters and Peter Sellers. In the 1980s, a young fellow named Robert Post took up the gauntlet of his comic heroes and he carries on their legacy today. As a result of this eclectic group of comic inspirations–along with mime Marcel Marceau and mentor Tony Montanaro–Post is celebrating his 40th anniversary as a touring comedian, whose style includes something of each legendary comic and much original Post and his alter egos.
“I’ve been inspired by every one of those people and my stuff is probably even more physical,” Post says from his car on the way to the Canadian leg of his present tour. “It’s hard to top any of those guys. They were great.” Robert Post the actor, Post the comedian, Post the dancer, juggler, mime and puppeteer will all convene at East Tennessee State University on Saturday, Nov. 2, for a Homecoming week performance at 7:30 p.m. in Bud Frank Theatre, lower level of Gilbreath Hall on Stout Drive. Tickets for the ETSU performance are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors 60 and over and $5 for all area students with ID.
Post’s comedy can’t be categorized. His one-man variety show, Post Comedy Theatre, takes Post and the audience through a lightning-speed series of scenarios and improvisations, character changes and zany physical comedy. The New York Times said Post “merits a place on anybody’s all-star team of the goofily gifted.” Matt Lauer of the “TODAY Show” said, “I like him because he’s completely insane.” National Public Radio dubbed him “uproariously funny.”
“We wanted to bring something for everyone, our students and the whole family, for Homecoming,” says Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis. “We have not worked with comedy acts before. Post Comedy is a great show. He is very ‘family friendly.’ He’s just got a delightful sense of humor and his comedy is very physical.”
Post will select from various works in his repertoire including: SPIKED, an impossibly fast-paced work set entirely to a sound effects tape; POST Child, a duet with a puppet (created by Henson Studio artist Matthew Brooks) that looks like a third-grade version of Post; Pasquale's Kitchen, a wacky TV chef who whips up a culinary feast of juggling, visual gags, dialects, jokes, magic and rhythm; Beyond the Wall (A Mystery), a "tour de force," six-character, quick-change murder mystery; Ballet 101, a hysterical parody of a ballet instructor; and Tango, a "passionate" dance with red long johns. All of the works are presented in a relaxed, improvisational performance style that breaks down the wall between performer and audience, Post says.
The fast pace and quick changes are well suited for a college and younger audience, Post says. “College students will enjoy the variety of it,” he says. “This generation of college kids is used to being bombarded with things. They’re going to love that aspect of my show, as well.”
In the style of Winters and Sellers, improvisation is part of the Post posturing. “My shows include a lot of improvisation, chit-chat with the audience,” says the comedian, who was part of an improv group before he started his full-time solo work. “That can be exciting. It can get wild.”
The driving and touring can get pretty wild, too. This fall has Post in Maine, Indiana, several locations in Canada and Ohio, where he calls Lithopolis home – as well as much travel associated with a documentary he is making on his life as a performer. He also often directs shows and plays and acts as a “Show Doctor.” “When people are having trouble with the show, they bring me in to fix it,” he says. “My shows, directing and the video: It’s like I live three separate lives. But over the years, I have learned to never be away from home for more than three weeks. Three weeks is the cut off point for me. You forget who you are.”
In Post’s travels, he has performed in almost every conceivable setting, including street corners, dinner theaters, prisons, factories, schools, TV commercials, homeless shelters, festivals, river boats and with symphony orchestras. He has created more than 30 works since 1973, for which he has received numerous awards and fellowships. Post is an alumnus of the Affiliate Artists program and has toured his one-man performance to 45 U.S. states, Canada, Japan, Mexico, throughout the Mediterranean and Russia. In addition, Post's work has been seen across the U.S. and in Canada on national television on PBS in a special award-winning special, “Robert Post – In Performance,” and regionally in a variety of PBS educational programs for high school students.
He co-created a new version of “The Nutcracker” and co-directed “Coppelia” and “Cinderella” for BalletMet Columbus. He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Ohio State University Department of Theatre.
Interestingly, growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Post never took a theater class or even read a play through grade and high school. Things changed, dramatically, when he started at The Ohio State University.
“This particular teacher thought I was really funny and said, ‘Look I think you should go into theater,” he recalls. “That kind of blew my mind. Once you get the first laugh, you are like, ‘Wait a minute. That not only was fun but it also wasn’t that hard.’ If you’re funny, you’re funny.”
The funnyman’s one-man show was presented by Broadway's internationally acclaimed New Victory Theater to rave reviews and sold out houses. For more information about Post Comedy Theatre and the many faces of Robert Post, visit his website at www.robertpost.org .
For tickets or more information about this event or Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-TKTS (8587). Follow Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU and on Facebook.
For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.