September 12, 2002

Suspicious Clowns toss laughs, not pies


By Paul Barile

When Vincent Truman and Scott Munn created Suspicious Clowns a year ago, they set out to create a sketch comedy show the likes of which we have never seen before.

To find out if they succeeded, see their latest outing, which opens at 10:25 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13, at WNEP Theatre, 3209 N. Halsted, Chicago.

“The approach for this show is to use seven writers and seven performers and have them attack a loose topic,” Truman said. “We decided not to go after drugs; that would be too easy. We want to go after legal addictions - personality addictions.”

He went on to explain a scene that revolves around a community’s need (jones) for a cup of coffee and how it affects them.

“We open the show with a song entitled ‘We would never open with a song,’” Truman said. “We are kind of satirizing another group in Chicago with the initials S.C. There are a couple of other songs but mostly a lot of noises in between scenes.”

Speaking of S.C., Truman said the name Suspicious Clowns actually came from a cassette that he recorded back in 1986.

"I like to come up with combinations of words that sound [interesting] when you put them together,” Truman said. “Also, it sounds funny - like ‘What are these guys up to?’”

Reaching back to the early days, Truman and Munn had made the decision to form a group, but rather than riff on a bunch of topical stuff and learn as they go, the two saturated themselves with Improv Olympic, Second City, the Playground and other sketch comedy shows.

“There was this rock concert vibe to so many shows that we saw,” Truman said. “Like you knew where they were going. You knew where they were going to end. We took what we call ‘the Western Communist approach’ by working with seven writers. When you go with seven writers, the results are wildly unpredictable.”

He suggested that the time slot should tell you that this is not your children’s clown show - but just in case, he offered, “I would probably not bring a kid to this. There are some pretty heavy adult issues here - and there is a bit of nudity.

“When we do an 8 p.m. show, we expect there might be some kids in the audience, but expect a late show to be a little blue.”

Not to be taken lightly, though, Truman sees the Clowns’ place in sketch comedy history.
“We are trying to create a new form - or maybe twist the old one and make it funny again,” he said. “Think of it as an amusement park ride without the vomit.”

The future for the Clowns includes a variety of festival work, what Truman calls “the new rite of passage.”

They are working on a Christmas show and they are submitting material to the Aspen/HBO program.


Suspicious Clowns will perform at 10:25 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, 20, 27 and Oct. 4 at WNEP Theatre, 3209 N. Halsted, Chicago.
This show contains adult language and themes. The theater permits patrons to bring alcohol and other beverages.
Ticket price is $10 in advance, $12 at the door. 
For more information, call 773-296-1100 or log on at