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Tomáš Kubínek Brings Back Vaudeville

2009 March 10
by Susan Asher

Mime, clown, magician, storyteller, acrobat, actor, musician. No one word could quite describe Tomáš Kubínek.

Kubínek, who performed at the Rialto Center for the Arts Saturday in Atlanta, transforms himself from a Vaudevillian performer to a Dickens-like storyteller. He recalls his childhood growing up so poor that all eight children shared one piece of hard candy that his grandmother gave them. The children would line up in a row, and each child would get 10 seconds to suck the piece of candy and pass it down the line until it got to the wee, youngest, Tomáš himself, who would suck it for a full 20 seconds before passing it back up the line to the oldest child and back down again until it had totally been dissolved. Kubínek acts out the telling of it in such detail, milking the moments, miming everything so perfectly, you can almost see all the children lined up waiting for their turn to suck on the candy.

While performing a magic act, Kubínek borrows from The Marx Brothers’ film “Animal Crackers,” in which Harpo, another mime, has stolen a slew of silverware and gets caught when one by one the pieces fall out of his sleeve. Groucho then says, “I can’t imagine what’s holding up that coffee pot.”

Kubínek’s version is a little bit different. He ventures into the audience climbing on the backs of the seats in which patrons sit, and carries a woman’s purse back onto the stage with him. He riffles through it while delivering humorous commentary on its contents. Finally, he dares to look inside her wallet and amazingly finds the red scarf he earlier had made disappear. Just as he is about to return the purse, he spots something, and slowly, one by one he pulls out nearly a dozen pieces of silverware which he repeatedly drops onto the floor, and ends with a remark about a coffee pot being in there somewhere.

Throughout his act, Kubínek engages the audience, and even brings one unsuspecting patron to the stage to perform an acrobatic balancing act. And, like Groucho before him, Kubínek is a master at firing back snappy quips to the audience.

Clearly Kubínek borrows from Vaudevillian masters, but he makes everything he does his own. In one scene he straps on an awkward contraption with four feet that he buckles around his knees, and walks around on six feet. Strange, nutty, and funny! He also performs an amazing acrobatic feat without using his hands. All while balancing a glass of red wine on his forehead, he whistles and plays a tune on the ukulele, balances on one leg, drops down and reclines on his back, uses only his knees to raise the wine glass from his forehead and places it behind his head, does a somersault and picks up the glass with his mouth and drinks it dry. A toast to Tomáš Kubínek.

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