The Idiot gives permission to find meaning in nonsense,
and that nonsense is often the place where sense begins,
and opens the door to an unhinged expression.
There is no method or particular set of skills. We want to enter into a search
for the thing.
We expect to be surprised. We want to be entertained.
We want you to commit.
John is the Founder and Artistic 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.
Ian Bratschie came from Michigan by way of Chicago. With Wet The Hippo he has performed with The Murge, The Greatest Show in the Back of a Truck We Rented, and The Invention of Language. He has been on television on Criminal Minds, Chicago PD, School of Rock, Chicago Fire, The Mob Doctor, and a recurring role on Modern Family. Ian has also been the hero in many commercials including DIRECTV, Chase Bank, Tostitos, McDonalds, Samsung, Bic, Peak Motor Oil, and Dunkin' Donuts. He is a graduate of I.O. and the Second City Comedy Studies program in Chicago, and of both The Groundlings and UCB here in LA. He has studied clown with Paola Coletto, Jet Eveleth, and Philip Burgers, and has been studying with John Gilkey for over a millennia. He also has a dog.
Amrita Dhaliwal is an actor from Chicago whose work has spanned multiple stages: from theatre to film to clown. She has been studying with John Gilkey since 2014 and is currently a member of Wet The Hippo where she performs regularly with The Murge. Amrita can be seen regularly online and on TV in various commercials and programs. She currently produces three variety shows in Los Angeles: Clowns Idiots Characters at Nerdist, Ringmistress at The Pack and Indian Wedding at Three Clubs. Amrita most recently performed in the CBS Diversity Showcase and has an original solo character, Lady Love, which she performs regularly around Los Angeles. Amrita is a graduate of The School for Theatre Creators, Steppenwolf, Black Box Acting (Meisner + Viewpoints), Second City Conservatory, and has studied mask and red nose clown with Paola Coletto, among others. Her personal favorite credit is a performance of Punjabi Heritage and Culture at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Alec Jones-Trujillo has been working with John Gilkey for many years. He is a graduate of the San Francisco Circus Center's Clown Conservatory and The Flying Actor Studio, a year-long mime focused theater program. He was an original member of Wet The Hippo, toured with New Belgium's Tour De Fat, and played The Gazillionaire in Spiegelworld's Australian tour of the Vegas hit Absinthe. He currently hosts The Tower Hour, Cool Butt and is excited to be teaching this Idiot business.
" It uniquely shapes itself. Just like water. Wherever someone’s comedic sweet spot is, theoretically the Idiot stuff can find it. Can help them find it out. That’s something specific to the Idiot. It finds your strengths and helps brings them out. "
Kevin is a performer, writer and content creator. He has trained at Upright Citizens Brigade, The Pack Theater (formerly known as The Miles Stroth Workshop), and The Idiot Workshop since its early beginnings. He began his comedy career as an improviser, and, since joining The Idiot Workshop, has applied the work to stand up, clown, sketch and to visual and written narrative storytelling. He performs regularly with Wet The Hippo in The Murge as well as The Greatest Show in the Back of a Truck We Rented, which he co-produces with Tyler Watson. He is a regular performer at Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap and a member of The Innocents Clown Show, a collective performance group focused on developing classic clown bits and solo character sketches.
MEERA ROHIT KUMBHANI
Meera Rohit Kumbhani has been playing with Wet the Hippo since 2015. She has an MFA in Acting from Columbia University and spent three summers studying clown with Chris Bayes. As an actor, she's performed with Classic Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, Playwrights' Horizons, Ma-Yi, La Jolla Playhouse, and more. On TV, she was a regular on two very short-lived shows - “Weird Loners” on FOX, and “Donny!” on USA – and has appeared on “The Mindy Project”, “Life in Pieces”, “Sanjay & Craig”, “Black Box”, and more. Film includes the upcoming Dave Made a Maze and A Futile and Stupid Gesture. She is also a company member of the multi-NYIT award-winning Broken Box Mime Theater and a member of the band Ssssnake. She also teaches drama, writing, Shakespeare and clown to at-risk youth, and inmates in jails and prisons.
Tim Reid makes theater, writes, and performs and is the Managing Director of The Idiot Workshop. He has been an ensemble member with The Neo- Futurists in Chicago since 2008, writing and performing for their long-running late night show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, and is an original member of Wet The Hippo. He has made work for PAM Residencies, Machine Project, and Highways, and performed around Los Angeles at Pieter, REDCAT, Night Gallery, and the Hammer Museum. And once on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, he stood in the sun for an hour holding a sugar cone with two scoops of ice cream until it had melted completely. He has an MFA from CalArts in Writing and Critical Studies.
"Some of us have an interiority which is presumed, and an identity which we don’t need to justify. This thing cannibalizes that assumed interiority, turns it inside out, questions that identity which was only ever assumed, whose only guarantee of stability was that assumption, an implicit assumption that was no where else actually held, maintained, or legitimated. It does not ruin it or finally subvert that thing, but only shows that the presumption of some kind of stability or assurance was just that, a presumption"
Claire Titelman is an actor, writer and Andy Kaufman Award-nominated stand-up comedian based in L.A and is an original member of Wet the Hippo. A roundtable regular on Chelsea Lately, Claire’s appeared on New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Wilfred, Veronica Mars and Cold Case. Her solo show Lemons Are for Emergencies Only received rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and she’s performed at top national comedy festivals like Bridgetown and SFSketchFest. Claire’s short story “Casual Friday” was published in the anthology True Tales of Lust and Love, and her play In Tubes was produced at HERE Arts in NYC. Claire recently sold an original series to Warner Bros.'s short-form studio Blue Ribbon Entertainment and she’s currently developing a television series based on her autobiographical solo show, Filthy, which she developed in a residency at Machine Project.
"One of the things I like the most about The Idiot Workshop is that it makes space for the ugliness. The obscene and strange bits of ourselves. To bring into the open parts of ourselves that are often hidden. It has a wildness. Which is a real relief. A place to let go. And simultaneously push ourselves. I always leave feeling woken up."
Tyler Watson has been studying with John Gilkey since February 2013, and teaching for the Idiot Workshop since March 2015. He was an ensemble member of Wet the Hippo and The Simple Simples, performing all across California, Las Vegas, and Chicago. He has studied with UCB and The Actors' Gang in the past. In June 2015 he was cast in Spiegelworld's production of Vegas Nocturne which was taken to the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and a run at Los Angeles' Three Clubs. He is in Cirque du Soleil's clown database, he hosts a show with his friend Kevin in the back of a Budget Rental truck called The Greatest Show in the Back of a Truck We Rented, and currently performs in The Murge.
" The Idiot Workshop is a way to unleash your comedic Id. To go full out emotionally and physically, leaving it all on the floor while bringing the crowd along with you. Can we commit to it not making total sense? Can we follow the string of stupidity? Can we even transcend expectations? We can sure as hell try. "
Eli Weinberg is an actor, dancer, director and choreographer and has studied under John Gilkey since 2014. He has devised multiple shows with Wet The Hippo (The Invention Of Language, The Simple Simples, TRANGLE) and performs regularly in The Murge. In 2015, he received an LA Stage Alliance Ovation award for his work with the contemporary junkyard-opera company Four Larks and is currently involved in development on their newest project slated for January 2018. He has also performed with LA based immersive theater company, Capital W, in their productions of And The Drum and Hamlet-Mobile. In 2014, he was invited to perform in Medellin, Colombia in the Fiesta del Libro y la Cultura with Mexican contemporary dance company, Péndulo Cero, and danced with the company the following year on tour in Northern Mexico. Eli has taught movement and dance in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles over the last 7 years and is well known for his ability to sweat profusely.
"The Idiot Workshop provides, and provided me, a container to synthesize most, if not all, of the training and work I had pursued previously - exposing it to a fresh approach to performance and play. The component that always gets me is the insistence on authenticity in the work and in performance, the invitation to find and trust your comedic voice, to sit in your vulnerability and to allow the audience to be with you, entirely, in moments of triumph and failure."
"THE IDIOT TEACHERS have a knack for pulling out what is uniquely funny about you as an individual and performer." ~ Scott Wainio