Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 21, 2013.

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Everyone's family feels like a circus. Lorenzo Pisoni's actually was.

What's the project?

Lorenzo Pisoni has teamed up with friends Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, William Rexer, and Sarah Dusseault to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund Humor Abuse: The Documentary, a doc based on his life growing up in The Pickle Family Circus with a clown for a father.

At age 2, Lorenzo stumbled into the circus ring during intermission with a fully realized silent clown act. And a life in the family business began. It was sealed when Lorenzo signed a contract with his parents' circus at age 6, becoming his dad's clown partner.

The documentary will expand on the themes in Lorenzo's one man show, Humor Abuse, co-created with Erica Schmidt, which centers on the unconventional father/son dynamics that develop when your father's a clown -- and you're his straight man.

The Pickle Family Circus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickle_Family_Circus was founded by Lorenzo's father Larry Pisoni and his mother Peggy Snider in 1974. The Pickles played a pivotal role in the foundation of the New American Circus Movement, integrating theater into circus arts and paving the way for Cirque Du Soleil and dozens of other successful companies.

Peggy Snider and Larry Pisoni. Photo: Terry Lorant
Peggy Snider and Larry Pisoni. Photo: Terry Lorant

We want to capture Lorenzo's unique story --- and those of his father Larry, his mother Peggy, his sister Gypsy (who recently created the circus work in the Tony-winning Broadway smash Pippin), his godfather (and original Pickle member) Bill Irwin, Geoff Hoyle and many others in The Pickles.  We want to document the spirit, the lunacy, the daring, the danger and the dysfunction of growing up in a circus family.     

Lorenzo and Larry Pisoni. Photo: Terry Lorant
Lorenzo and Larry Pisoni. Photo: Terry Lorant

Background

Westfeldt met Pisoni when the two played opposite each other in The Explorers Club at Manhattan Theater Club this past summer, and she was instantly captivated by his life story. "It was completely incongruous to me that this straight-laced, terrific actor who looks like Clark Kent grew up juggling, flying through the air, and tap-dancing in a gorilla suit! I couldn't stop asking questions," said Westfeldt. Hamm and William Rexer (Director of Photography, Friends with Kids) were similarly taken with Pisoni's family history. “Every kid wants to please his Father.  Not every kid had to learn how to fall down a flight of stairs to do that,” Hamm said.  

How will we use your pledges to create a great documentary?

In addition to capturing Humor Abuse live on stage and behind the scenes  at the Mark Taper Forum, we want to complete extensive interviews and capture the life stories and perspectives of Lorenzo's father, Larry, and other original members of the Pickles. Our small film crew will have to travel to New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Montreal (where Lorenzo's sister Gypsy Snider runs Les7Doigts (the Seven Finger Circus - http://7doigts.com/).

Once we have all of this footage in the can, we will have to comb through it all. Documentaries are made in the editing room so we will employ a fantastic editor as we put this story into a cinematic form. 

Part of this process also involves getting rights to photos, music, and archival footage -- all of this costs money.

We will be using graphics, animation, and lots of computers to make the Humor Abuse: The Documentary beautiful. 

Who are our partners?

We are a small band of people getting together to do this project and we've asked for a lot of favors along the way. People have donated their time, expertise, changed plans with their families -- we've basically started acting like The Pickle Family all over again. 

Here are some of the folks that have already helped out:

• All of the photos used on this Kickstarter page and used in Humor Abuse the stage play come from the amazing Terry Lorant. We will have access to thousands of these incredible photos for use in the documentary.

I feel so lucky to be doing this work! Each assignment, is an invitation to witness and record the complexity, the richness, the intimacy and the occasional hilarity of our lives and work. To help tell the story of a nonprofit foundation, one day we'll be following the staff and residents of a temporary shelter and the next day we might be making a portrait at the stately home of a community leader/philanthropist whose vision and generosity has helped to fund the shelter. Our location portrait and environmental assignments have taken us all over the country, from operating suites in uptown Manhattan to the rural backroads of Nashville to San Francisco boardrooms with a magnificent view of the Golden Gate. Finding the comfort zone for each of our subjects and bringing out the right combination of personality, emotion, interest and humor in every situation…that's the goal. That's the challenge and the fun. We are incredibly fortunate to have ongoing collaborations with talented and skilled designers, web masters, copywriters, video production teams, public and media relations professionals, custom production houses, assistants and other wonderful "creatives" to help assemble the right combination of resources for any job no matter how simple or complex. It's not just a picture, it's your story. - Terry Lorant

http://www.tlorant.com/

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http://cirqueschoolla.com/about/

Cirque School was founded in Los Angeles by Pickle Family Circus veterans Aloysia Gavre & Rex Camphuis in 2004 with a vision to create an opportunity for 'anybody with any body' to run away with the circus.  Cirque School’s classes help build an individual’s physical and mental wellness through one of the most intense, exhilarating and safe circus arts programs ever developed.  Students have fun while gaining the strength and flexibility.  Aloysia envisioned a safe, warm, non-competitive environment: "Growing up in San Francisco with the Pickle Family Circus School in my neighborhood, I discovered a world where art, performance, and one’s own unique physical talents came together. I wanted to give that same opportunity to others. . . All you need is a belief in yourself.” 

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•The amazing band - The 88

The 88 have been hailed as one of the finest pop/rock/alternative bands in recent memory; a distinction proven all the more relevant by their soon to be released LP, entitled FORTUNE TELLER. Founded in 2002 by high school pals Adam Merrin (piano/keys) and Keith Slettedahl (vocals/guitar), and solidified as a band with the addition of bassist Todd O'Keefe and drummer Anthony Zimmitti, The 88 made their bones on the Southern California indie scene, releasing two well-received albums and earning acclamation as "Best Pop/Rock Band of the Year" from L.A. Weekly. In addition to touring with such artists as The B-52s, Matt Costa, Smashing Pumpkins, and the late Elliott Smith, the band has sustained itself in large part thanks to a seemingly infinite series of high-profile song placements - spanning films, commercials, video games, and TV shows - as well as resourceful projects like self-produced YouTube videos and the digital single, "Love Is The Thing," recorded entirely via iPhone app. The 88 returned to the road with Ray Davies in late 2011; a run that also included a string of television appearances on shows like Live With Regis & Kelly and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. At the start of 2012, the band earned the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform a Kinks medley with Davies at Clive Davis' annual Pre-Grammy Gala, sharing the stage with Jackson Browne and Elvis Costello. "Musically, the high point of the night," as Rolling Stone stated of the performance. Currently, The 88 continue to see their film and television presence rise to the top of the heap, with music featured in the Universal film The Lorax, as well as their song, "At Least It Was Here," serving as the theme song to the NBC comedy Community. In March, the band added a new credit to their resume: scoring a movie. For the Lionsgate release Friends With Kids, the band co-scored the Jennifer Westfeldt film, while also contributing three original songs. By remaining true to themselves, The 88 have crafted an immensely satisfying LP that stands tall among their impressive catalogue.

The interwebs: http://www.the88.net/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/the88 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/the88

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The Center Theatre Group

http://www.centertheatregroup.org/ 

*****This campaign is not affiliated with Center Theatre Group. Contributions made here do not benefit CTG, nor is CTG responsible for the fulfillment of donor benefits.

Tickets for Humor Abuse now playing through November 3, 2013 can be purchased at  http://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/Humor

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And of course the team that created Humor Abuse, the play-

ERICA SCHMIDT, director and co-creator.

BEN STANTON, Lighting designer.

BART FASBENDER, original music and sound design.

and last but nowhere near least, Larry Pisoni and Peggy Snider.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We are a modest operation with everyone -- producers, directors and cinematographer -- donating their time and resources. We believe that this collective work ethic, a trademark of the Pickle Family Circus, will help us overcome any unforeseen challenges in our path. However, making a great documentary is challenging and we may face unforeseen obstacles including: spikes in budget due to required union minimums for use of footage from the stage version of Humor Abuse; obtaining personal waivers for interview footage captured if material collected is unexpectedly revealing; difficulty or significant expense in obtaining music clearances; significant costs in obtaining rights to historic Pickle Family footage and footage from the 1970's to contextualize Larry and Peggy's world; and travel expenses for our small crew to obtain footage.

An added challenge is our timeline to complete this doc, as everyone will have to juggle their day jobs.

FAQ

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    For the price of a ticket to the circus in the 1980s, you will receive our heartfelt thanks expressed in a digital Thank You video from the Producers Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm.

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    Receive a high-resolution copy of a vintage 8x10 black and white photo from The Pickle Family Circus archives signed by Lorenzo Pisoni.* · In addition pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive a pair of premium seats for Humor Abuse (the play) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and meet Lorenzo Pisoni back stage after the performance (Closing week of the show Tuesday October 29 – November 3, 2013). · In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive a red vintage Pickle Family Circus Poster of the circus band with clown. • In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released (estimated delivery date March 2015).

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    Receive an invitation to a rough-cut screening of Humor Abuse: The Documentary, with a Q & A afterwards with the filmmakers in Los Angeles AND · a Pickle Family Circus T-Shirt · signed 8x10 black and white vintage Pickle Family Circus photograph o In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released. *estimated delivery date of shipped items January 2014 with Q & A and Doc March 2015

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    Receive an invitation to a rough-cut screening of Humor Abuse: The Documentary, with a Q & A afterwards with the filmmakers in NYC AND · a Pickle Family Circus T-Shirt · signed 8x10 black and white vintage Pickle Family Circus photograph o In addition, a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary; a Pickle Family Circus T-shirt; a vintage black and white photo from The Pickle Family Circus signed by Lorenzo Pisoni. *estimated delivery date of shipped items January 2014 with Q & A and Doc March 2015

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    Receive a rare vintage Pickle Family Circus coffee table book (collector's item) by Terry Lorant and Jon Carroll, signed by Lorenzo Pisoni, Larry Pisoni, Bill Irwin & other members of the Pickle Family. · In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive an onscreen Thank You in the film once completed AND a pair of premium seats for Humor Abuse (the play) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and meet Lorenzo Pisoni backstage after the performance (Closing week of the show Tuesday October 29 – November 3, 2013). · In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); and a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive the following: · a spot in the small group Circus class taught by Lorenzo Pisoni in Los Angeles the week of November 5, 2013 · signed 8x10 black and white vintage Pickle Family Circus photograph · a Pickle Family Circus T-Shirt · a pair of premium seats for Humor Abuse (the play) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and meet Lorenzo Pisoni back stage after the performance (Closing week of the show Tuesday October 29 – November 3, 2013). In addition, pledges will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary and a signed copy once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive an original clown hat used in Humor Abuse (one of only two that exist) AND Special Thanks onscreen in the film credits once released · a place in the small group Circus class taught by Lorenzo Pisoni in Los Angeles held the week of November 5, 2013 · an invitation to a rough-cut screening of Humor Abuse: The Documentary, with a Q & A afterwards with the filmmakers in LA or NYC · a signed 8x10 black and white vintage Pickle Family Circus photograph · a Pickle Family Circus T-Shirt · a pair of premium seats for Humor Abuse (the play) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and meet Lorenzo Pisoni back stage after the performance (Closing week of the show Tuesday October 29 – November 3, 2013). In addition, this pledge receives a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm) ; a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary and a signed copy once released (estimated March 2015).

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    Receive a vintage Lorenzo Pickle clown nose from the Pickle Family Circus (one of only three known to exist) AND Special Thanks onscreen in the film credits once released and the following: a spot in the small group Circus class taught by Lorenzo Pisoni in Los Angeles held the week of November 5, 2013 · an invitation to a rough cut screening of Humor Abuse: The Documentary, with a Q & A afterwards with the filmmakers in LA or NYC · a signed 8x10 black and white vintage Pickle Family Circus photograph · a Pickle Family Circus T-Shirt · a pair of premium seats for Humor Abuse (the play) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and meet Lorenzo Pisoni back stage after the performance (Closing week of the show Tuesday October 29 – November 3, 2013). In addition this pledge will receive a digital Thank You video from Lorenzo Pisoni, William Rexer, Jennifer Westfeldt & Jon Hamm; a 15 minute video Tutorial on The Basics of Juggling with Lorenzo Pisoni (and Jon Hamm); a digital download of Humor Abuse: The Documentary and a signed copy once released (estimated March 2015).

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Funding period

- (30 days)