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Mump & Smoot

Ian Jackson

Michael Kennard and John Turner know there are far more things to fear than fear itself.

Performing together since 1988, the Canadian clown artists are famed for their hilarious alter-egos Mump and Smoot, who live in a parallel universe (Ummo), speak in their own language (Ummonian), worship their own god (Ummo), but tap into all the things we Earthlings fear – from eating spaghetti in public to dealing with the death of a friend.

"When John and I first got together, we created a credo – and at the top was fear," Mr. Kennard says. "So we looked at all the things we could explore that had to do with fear, and that people were fearful of."

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Known as the "clowns of horror," the pair is returning to Vancouver with the 25th-anniversary edition of Something, a show that sees the pair shovelling food into their mouths at a café, wreaking havoc at a friend's wake and carefully inspecting all of the instruments in a doctor's office before embarking on a surgery that involves a staple gun, a pizza cutter, and a slightly used leg.

At times their antics are devilishly disgusting, and venture down paths that few would dare tread; at others, they're tender and sweet. But at bottom, it's the relationship between Mump, the underqualified leader, and Smoot, his hapless sidekick, that speaks volumes – and has made the pair a perennial hit in this universe.

"It's the love between the characters, and the betrayal – all those aspects we have in relationships in the real world, but they are just taken so far with Mump and Smoot," Mr. Turner says. "But there's always that connection that brings us back to a happy-ish ending."

Something is at the Cultch until June 2 (tickets.thecultch.com).

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