Avner the Eccentric…and incredible…and amazing…(photo courtesy Marie Clauzade)

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a circus people kind of guy. I neither want stilt-walkers trudging towards me nor anyone wearing a funny nose attempting to engage me in conversation.

You can imagine my mood heading into this year’s Moisture Fest. I sat down at Hale’s Palladium in Fremont thinking, “Unclean! Unclean!” (I should’ve been at that Satan debate in Ballard).

And, for most of the show, my fears proved correct. There are only so many people you can watch demonstrate whimsical new ways to put on hats. But it is nice to hear children laughing—few sounds are better for the soul than that of a kid really cracking up—and the guy who made the children laugh the most also had me in stitches: Avner Eisenberg, aka Avner the Eccentric, clowned in a sublimely silly manner worthy of Chaplin. His particular mime and misdirection were so quick I honestly settled into that childlike state in which you simply accept that the person entertaining you must possess magical gifts.

Eisenberg grew up in Georgia but got a BA in theater from UW. You might remember him as the only decent comic part of that terrible Romancing the Stone sequel from 1985 in which he played the holy-man “jewel” in The Jewel of the Nile. He’s honed his craft to such a level that it’s a waste of time to wonder how he’s able to do what he does when you can just sit back and enjoy the results.

He isolated the movements of his limbs and tongue so that they all appeared to behave without his consent. He turned a napkin into a squirming, squiggly animal companion that had a strength greater than his own. He stuffed his face with paper and, yes, somehow brought it all back up again. And forget the other acts and their hats: Eisenberg’s bowler danced up and over and across his body like Astaire.

Don’t miss this guy while he’s here. He’s on the bill for two shows tonight and next Friday as well as appearances this Sunday and next Thursday. And, please, bring a kid if you’ve got one to bring.

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