Avner Eisenberg(1948 -)
Avner Eisenberg, a.k.a. Avner the Eccentric, is hard to classify. He has been featured as a clown (inducted to the Clown Hall of Fame in 2002), a juggler and a magician. He has worked as a mime, and a puppeteer. He has starred on Broadway, and been featured on both TV and motion pictures. But above all, he is a funny man.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Avner Eisenberg attended several universities, eventually earning a BA in theatre from the University of Washington in 1971. He then went to Paris, to participate in a 2-year study of mime with the French master, LeCoq; however, he took a year off to tour as a puppeteer with Vagabond Marionettes. After his return to America, Avner taught at Carlo Clementi’s Dell’Arte School of Physical Comedy in California. He felt strongly indebted to these two masters. Avner said: “LeCoq who taught me everything I know, and Carlo who taught me the rest.”
In 1984, his one-man show, “Avner the Eccentric” became a hit on Broadway, continuing through 1985. His first major motion picture role followed in 1985, portraying “The Jewel” in “The Jewel of the Nile,” co-starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. He continued appearing on the screen, large and small; in 1987 he portrayed “Emit Kelly” on the TV series “Mathnet”, and portrayed “Carlos the Magnificent” in the “Brenda Starr” movie. In 1987 he co-starred in Lincoln Center’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.” In 1989 he returned to Broadway in a principal role in “Ghetto.”
You might expect that during a career so busy and varied that Avner would have won numerous awards — and you would be right. Avner has won awards at the Edinburgh Festival, the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival, and the Festival Internacional de Pallassos in Barcelona. He won the first prize at the Arosa Humor Festival in Switzerland. He recently won the “Snow Star” for comedy in Switzerland, and the “Lachmesse” award in Germany. In addition, he squeezed in time for a personal life, and is married to Julie Goell.
According to Avner’s official website, “Avner has developed silent theater skills as a therapeutic tool and teaches workshops and master classes for students and professionals in theatre, health care, education and counseling. He lives on an island off the coast of Maine and would secretly rather be sailing.”
Perhaps the best testimony to Avner the Eccentric comes from the mouth of Joel Siegal, ABC-TV’s entertainment reviewer, from September, 1984.
“I have a confession to make. I don’t like mimes. I have said it, very mean, if every mime on the face of the earth would disappear, the world would not be a worse place. They had to drag me kicking and screaming to see Avner The Eccentric, a one man mime show, but when the show was over, they had to drag me kicking and screaming out of the theatre. I wanted more. Avner The Eccentric is a brilliant comic.
My problem with mimes is that most mimes confuse the means with the end. They develop the skills then don’t do anything with them, kind of like the concert violinist coming out and playing scales but Avner uses his skills to create a one man symphony, beautifully paced and more often then not, hurt yourself hysterically funny. I laughed for 2 solid hours. The show only lasted an hour and a half. The last 30 minutes I remembered and laughed all over again.
You know the most critical element in comedy? Ask me, what’s the most critical element in comedy? Timing. And the timing, the pacing, the bits that fly off the wall and out of nowhere are so good, you are never aware there is just one silent man with some silent props entertaining you. Please take the kids. There is even a special holiday matinee schedule. Avner The Eccentric by the way was arrested in Paris for public buffoonery. We’re lucky being funny isn’t against the law here in New York. He’d be facing 15 to life. He is funny.”