Most kids want to run away to join the circus at some stage in their lives. Lorenzo Pisoni ran away from the circus — in footie pajamas.
The mental picture of a young Lorenzo shuffling down the highway in PJs is humorous, but the scenario is representative of the serious themes behind the schtick: the father-son relationship on view in Philadelphia Theatre Company's one-man show Humor Abuse. Directed by Pisoni's college friend Erica Schmidt, Humor Abuse is a mostly true account of Pisoni's childhood growing up the son of two circus performers. Throughout the production, Pisoni performs pratfalls and physical gags, falls off of ladders, springs out of trunks, wears flippers, does back flips and employs an entire repertoire of physical humor — all of it handed down from his father, the professional clown Larry Pisoni.
The physical timing is first-rate, and Pisoni's 20 years of circus training and performance serves him well in this production. It's entirely possible to treat Humor Abuse as a behind-the-scenes tour of your very own circus, but the show also places a father-son relationship literally in the spotlight, showing the ragged edges hidden behind even the most sequined performers.