An audience member is presented with two options. Photos by Gabe Stern
by Gabe Stern
Hometown Weekly Intern
Sherborn’s summer reading program kicked off with Alex the Jester performing medieval comedy for families of young children at the Sherborn Community Center on Tuesday, June 27.
The performance, spanning just over an hour, included Alexander dancing, juggling, and performing comedic magic tricks, all while encouraging audience participation.
But this wasn’t your average audience participation.
Many families were surprised to see that Alexander did not speak one word of English to them. Instead, he spoke to them Grammelot, his own form of gibberish that uses random sounds and hand gestures that have been developed over his 25 years of performing.This only added to Alexander’s comedic style, as he communicated through his actions rather than his words. Through eye contact, facial expressions and gestures, he was able to bring up participants on stage and have them follow his antics. Whether it was yelling out nonsense or just interacting with him, the crowd participants always knew what he was trying to communicate to them.
Although Alexander used to perform his shows in English and communicate to his audience in a more conventional manner, he turned to gibberish during his performance at a comedy festival in Montreal.
“They wanted me in the French section … they asked ‘Can you do it in French?’ and I said ‘Oui,’ and then I hung up the phone and I panicked,” he reminisced after his performance.
Instead of going on stage and performing in a language he hardly knew, Alexander changed his act so that he could perform in gibberish, which seemed to resonate more with his whacky on-stage persona.
“I would say that was the turning point” Alexander said. Since his performance in Montreal, Alexander has had shows in over 14 different countries. He was even recognized by the U.S State department, who chose him to perform in Russia.
What Alexander’s “Gammelot” language has allowed him to do is stick to one main performance wherever he goes. His Sherborn audience was treated to the same performance he uses at comedy clubs all over the world.
For the thousands of performances that Alex the Jester has done in his career, he hopes his audience sees comedy the same way he does. “One of my favorite sayings is: ‘You don’t so much stop playing when you get old, but you do get old when you stop playing.’ I hope people feel a little more playful when they go out the door.”