Founder and Creative Director
John Gilkey 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.
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 with The Murge. Amrita can be seen regularly online and on TV in various commercials and programs. She is also the co-creator and co-producer of the monthly LA show Indian Wedding, an immersive theatrical experience, staged as a traditional South Asian pre-wedding celebration, "the Sangeet." Every show features a different cast of preposterous comedic characters, story-tellers, musicians and dancers. 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.