It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Monday, January 16, 2006

All right, who here is a mime? C'mon! Speak up!!

A dark and terrible fate has swooped down upon the city of London, England. Even now, as I write this, her streets are infested with an evil so dark, so foul, so brutally oppressive, that mere mortals can dare speak its name. They silently swarm the streets, shops, queues, tube stops, and train stations. Stealthily they bicycle by Buckingham, trapse through Trafalgar Square, waddle within Whitehall, and parade past Piccadilly. What is this awful scourge, this vicious, miserable pestilence that casts a sickening, desperate pall over England's first city?

Those of you who bothered to read the title of this piece already know I'm talking about mimes. Yes, the Annual London International Mimefest has begun, an awful tradition that dates back to 1977, when The Mimes first invaded England from Calais. (They took the ferry over.) Each year they gather together to explore the vast and extremely unnecessary possibilities of mimedom, and also to get beaten up by tourists for horning their way into photo after photo. Police expect to find dozens of mimes in the Thames... as Synchronized Miming is on the schedule this year. (I hope you weren't thinking we were condoning throwing mimes into the Thames? Everyone surely knows that pies are the most appropriate defense against these plucky, white-faced, mute little bastards.)

I sat down with the chief mime behind the Festival, Zuzu the Wonder Mime, to talk about this year's edition:

Earl: Zuzu, I'd like to say it's lovely to see you, but you're a mime, so that wouldn't be very honest of me now, would it?

Zuzu: (Smiles. Pretends to climb an invisible rope.)

Earl: Zuzu, what kind of exhibitions will be featured at Mimefest 2006?

Zuzu: (Silent laughter. Does the "trapped in a box" bit.)

Earl: Sorry, I didn't get a bloody word. Are you concerned about the general public's attitude about mimes?

Zuzu: (Traces pretend tears from eyes. Does the "walking in the wind" bit.)

Earl: Say something, you stupid prat! (Strikes Zuzu in the kneecap with a very real ballpeen hammer.)

Zuzu: Ow!!! (Does the "hobbling about in a circle" bit.) What'd you do that for you rotten nutter?? (Covers mouth in shock.)

At that point Zuzu had transgressed the unwritten law of the mimes by making a noise and had to go off to commit hara-kiri with an imaginary sword. Unable to get any information out of the other mimes, much less Zuzu, who was now pretending to spill his guts out all over Covent Garden, I decided to peruse the itinerary for tomorrow's events. Below is an excerpt revealing that not only is Mimefest the equivalent of a month of someone scratching their nails on a very dry blackboard, it's serious business for full-time mimes:

Tuesday, January 17 - Mimefest 2006

8:00 a.m.
Continental Breakfast - Pretend crossaints with imaginary butter, unreal grapefruit, illusionary assortment of juices - The Savoy Grill

9:00 a.m.
Session A: "The art of annoying people. How to avoid bodily injury. " Presenter: Billy the Mime - The Savoy - The Windsor Conference Room

Session B: "Shields and Yarnell: Mimes, performance artists, or really lame dancers?" Presenter: Marcel Marceau - The Savoy - The Benny Hill Room

10:30 a.m.
Session A: "Walking against the wind in an actual gale" Presenter: Greg Goldston - The Savoy - The Robert Wagner Pavilion.

Session B: "Mummenchanz - Are there really people in there, or miming robots?" Presenter: - The Savoy - The Steve Irwin Ballroom

12:00 noon
Lunch - Fantastic buffet (empty). The sidewalk - The Strand (Mind the constables.)

Very serious business, indeed. Hopefully, the British military will be able to put a stop to it before things get out of hand and mimes invade Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, where they will almost certainly get roughed up by the Liberal Democrats.

I also understand the mimes were going to have a reading of Juan Carlos Vega's most recent book of poetry, Secret Tears: My Year Among the Mimes, but Sean Connery turned them down flat and it was too late to get a non-mime to handle it. That's a pity, as I know JCV could've used the royalties to make bail.

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