In his one-man play Jesters Incognito, Hamilton’s Harrison Wheeler doesn’t just tell one story. He tells two. Part truth and part fiction, Wheeler juxtaposes his own personal story of coping with Bipolar disorder with his humorous tales about the lives of underground jesters, living, as the title of the play says, incognito, in a make-believe world where jesting isn’t allowed.
“Celebrate the madness, or die. That’s my motto,” said Wheeler, who is a cartoonist, author, comedian, and educator, during his close-to-sold-out performance at Hamilton Theatre, Inc. on Saturday afternoon. Funny and charming, Wheeler commanded the stage from the second he walked out (in full jester garb).
“Creativity can save your life,” boasts the play’s programme, and for Wheeler, it did. For twenty years, he has filled sketchbooks with words and drawings in an attempt to get his stories out of his head. It hasn’t been an easy journey. One week after he finished the draft of Jesters Incognito in novel form, he was in a coma — the result of an autoimmune disease. It took him six months to walk again. Wheeler also has more than eight years under his belt of recovery from substance abuse.
These things aren’t things to laugh about … obviously. Yet, Wheeler finds a way to laugh, and while he’s at it, to make everyone else laugh with him. “Sillyness is serious business,” he says.
Wheeler’s brand of physical comedy, commanding storytelling, and above all, his captivating imagination, are all reasons to go see Jesters Incognito at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. The festival, which is in its 11th year, runs until July 27th. There’s a lot to see this year with 45 shows at 12 different venues across the downtown core.
There are four more chances to check out Jesters Incognito at Hamilton Fringe. I’d definitely recommend it!
Hamilton Theatre Inc.
140 Macnab St N
Thursday, July 24th 9PM
Fri July 25th 4:30PM
Sat July 26th 9:30PM
Sun July 27th 12:30PM