Interview with Mel McGlensey

What inspired you to become a performer?
I’ve always loved performing, ever since I was a little kid. But it wasn’t until I graduated from Uni and started taking Improv classes that I found my way into comedy. I started doing improv in LA and New York and then before I knew it I was doing stand up, sketch, character and eventually, about a decade later… clown.

How did the concept for the show originate?
The concept for MOTORBOAT stemmed from a conversation with some fellow clowns about what weird little body talents everyone has. Some people have webbed toes or can lick their elbow, etc. I mentioned that I could “motorboat” myself and everyone laughed and encouraged me to find a way to do that onstage. Then, shortly after that I spent a summer studying at Ecole Philippe Gaulier and I got booked for a gig. Some fellow clown students and I sat around in our apartment brainstorming a new bit for me where I’d pretend with my whole body that I was a boat. My friend started throwing random sound effects at me using hot keys and pretty soon the Motorboat 5 minute act was born. I performed it that night and everyone loved it. From there I started doing the 5 minute bits all over, especially in Edinburgh Fringe last year. People loved it so much they’d come up to me and quote parts of it at me or call me “Motorboat Mel.” That’s when I knew there was something to this act and I wanted to explore the idea of turning it into a full hour.


Your show includes mime, circus, and physical comedy. How do you blend these elements to create Motorboat’s unique comedic style?
MOTORBOAT has been called clown, character and even Burlesque. There are also elements of improv and many other genres in there as well. I didn’t set out to intentionally blend all these things together, I set out to make a clown show, but the clown uses all the tools at his or her disposal to make the audience laugh, so I ended up using every bit of my previous comedy training and skills. Audience members have told me they think this show is unique or has a very individual style which I love to hear, but I have no idea how I achieved that. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that the show has so much of me in it. And I guess I am a strange and unique mix of many things as well.


What excites you most about being part of the London Clown Festival?
I am such a giant nerd when it comes to clown. I’m such a little fangirl. It’s a beautiful and enchanting art form and I’m so in awe of many of its practitioners so being included among them is such a highlight for me. A year ago I was watching many of these performers. Just sitting there in the audience in Edinburgh wide-eyed and awestruck. So it’s really an honour to be performing alongside some clown legends at this London Clown Fest. I guess that’s what excites me most; getting to be part of this community that I am deep down really just a fan of.


What do you hope audiences take away from seeing your show?
I want audiences to enjoy themselves. I want them to feel the magic of clown. I want them and laugh and feel momentarily engaged in something beautiful and ephemeral and alive. If they also take away any deeper messages or themes, if they feel moved or provoked in any way, then that’s a bonus. But first and foremost, as a clown, my job is to make them laugh.

You can catch Mel McGlensey is Motorboat on Friday 26 July at 7:30pm. Book your tickets here.

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