Knowing the Unknowable

The circus is coming, the circus is coming!

But don’t expect three rings, elephants and a lot of sawdust under the Big Top.

Fresh from a sold-out three-week run in Paris, Jamie Adkins will roll and bounce onto the Yukon Arts Centre stage next Monday and Tuesday with his one-man comic tour de force, CircusIncognitus.

Jamie Adkins in his one-man circus comedy, Circus Incognitus, which returns to Whitehorse next week PHOTO: Amanda Russell

With elements of juggling, slack-wire, ladders and acrobatics, Adkins charms danger with the personality and grace of a true clown.

Whitehorse is a place with special meaning for Adkins. It was here in 2007 that he performedCircus Incognitus for the first time ever.

It’s not every day that the arts centre welcomes back a repeat, but – take it from me – if you saw it then, you’ll love seeing it again!

“It’s a very funny show. I get a lot of people coming back to see it again and again, and bringing other people who they think should see it too,” Adkins tells me by phone.

If you are a fan of theatre, circus and comedy, and seek refined quality in all of those areas, this show is not to be missed. By anyone.

“The show has two levels of humour – silly for the kids, and cerebral for adults. But most often everyone laughs together, at all of it. I had a dad come up to me once and say, ‘I enjoyed it even more than they did!’ “

As well as being loved by kids of all ages, Adkins is also a clown’s clown.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about clowns. When I work in North America I say, ‘I’m a clown… No, not that kind of clown!’ right away, because I know what they are thinking.”

In his act, Adkins wears a plain gray suit and no makeup, except for the small eyebrows painted over his own.

“Nothing about me says funny. I just do funny things.”

And when I asked why he is referred to as a poet?

“There is a certain sensibility to my work, and some critics like to talk about it as poetry. For me it’s just clowning,” he says.

“Maybe it’s because I’m not the kind of clown that’s always going for the gag. Well, there’s always a gag, but sometimes it is built up to with drama and suspense.”

Adkins was born in San Diego, California, and started his circus career as a juggling street performer – just like Guy LaLiberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil.

He soon decided he wanted more than the laborious life of a busker.

“Being a street performer is a great place to begin, but not the best place to end.”

When Adkins saw the Pickle Family Circus perform in San Francisco, he knew the artist in him needed to complement his skills with elements of theatre, drama, comedy and “new circus”.

“I did my first show when I was 13 years old. It was, and always has been, more important to get laughs rather than applause. Applause is good, too, of course, but laughter has always been more satisfying for me.”

Adkins also did a stint at the same school where I studied, L’École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal. He enjoyed it there but said the regime was just too strict.

“I had handstand class at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays. But what if I wanted to juggle at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday?”

He also had so much experience under his belt that he was ready for something more.

“When you learn to do a cartwheel at the age of 22 you become a clown, not an acrobat.”

Don’t be fooled by the humble tumbler, though. He is also a doozie of an acrobat.

Pulling off an acrobatic stunt while feigning to lose your balance and pretending to fall takes even more skill.

Adkins has performed all over the world with many different circuses. When you see his show, you will understand why he needs to be alone on stage to have the attention he deserves.

This is an unforgettable one-man circus comedy not to be missed!

If you don’t believe me, visit the website

Circus Incognitus will play at the Yukon Arts Centre at 7 p.m. on February 20 and 21.

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