Satisfy people’s desire for the ridiculous and they will accept your idea of the sublime.
— M. Willson Disher



John Gilkey is the Founder and Creative Director of The Idiot Workshop.

He has performed internationally for more than thirty-five years in circus, variety, comedy clubs, theater and television. Beginning in 1987, he spent four years as clown, acrobat and featured juggler with The Pickle Family Circus.  This troupe is widely recognized as a pioneer in the contemporary circus movement.

In 1996, John joined the popular French Canadian troupe, Cirque Du Soleil.  In his first production with Cirque, he created and played the lead character for the show entitled Quidam. His collaboration with Cirque Du Soleil continued to grow with the creation and performance of clown numbers for the shows Dralion, Varekai and Iris.  John also wrote for and appeared in the Cirque Du Soleil television program Solstrum.  With Cirque Du Soleil alone John has performed live for more than four million people.

In 2002 John was invited to Pixar Studios to consult on the physical comedy routines that were eventually included in the Oscar winning film Ratatouille.  John also consulted for Pixar on the character voices in the Pixar short film, La Luna.

Additionally John worked with acclaimed director Franco Dragone to create Le Reve, a water spectacle for the Wynn Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas. As “Comedy Concepteur,” John was in charge of casting a team of seven clowns and, with them, developing the comic material for the the show.  With a budget of over $135 million, this show stands as one of the most spectacular in the world.

John continues to create challenging and experimental theater in California, including shows like We Are Nudes which earned a Best of the Fringe award in the 2009 San Francisco Fringe Festival and Wet The Hippo which was nominated for Best Comedy in the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

John now spends most of his time leading The Idiot Workshop and various Wet The Hippo productions in Los Angeles.

Your limitations make you the wonderful disaster that you are.
— Nick Cave


The Idiot is the most serious and important of all performance mödes.

The Idiot is where clown, boufon, trickster, comedian, improvisor, dancer, musician, actor, imp, bullshitter, joyful provocateur, anarchist, purveyor of nonsense, haranguer and conniver, sprite fairy and puck; where the little shit, bugbear, fool, jester, arlechino, punchinello, brighella, zany, august, pierrot, funambulist, thesp, mime and mimic, antic and wag, rascal, scoundrel and lout meet. The Idiot rests on the truth of paradox and all things in between.  Imagine a hammock. Now a turtle farting. The distribution of wealth in a classist society. The play of opposition provides the balance pole for a wire walking Idiot who is endlessly falling upward. A string stretched between two continents and plucked by a virgin resonates at the same frequency as a sperm whale chuckling to hermself. The Idiot is the answer to all problems which do not exist.

The Idiot Workshop is an institution dedicated to upholding, nurturing and catapulting Idiots. The Idiot Workshop is governed by a set of rules held together by a rubber band and a piece of tape and is kept unlocked inside of an ageless matchbox.

The Simples Simples

The Simples Simples

Theater takes place all the time, wherever one is, and art merely facilitates persuading one that this is the case
— John Cage