Butt Kapinski. Go ahead, say it and try not to giggle. Every time I see the name, I find myself snickering like a middle schooler in health class. But this lisp-having clown turned private eye isn’t just funny in name only. I caught up with Deanna Fleycher, the girl behind the Butt, to talk about clownery, elaborate costumes, and naked comedy. Butt Kapinski can be seen at Salvage Vanguard Theater on Friday May 11, at 10 pm. Tickets here!
LAFF: First off, your name. It’s hilarious. What’s the story behind it?
BK: A name is best when it is bestowed by somebody else. Or maybe it’s okay if it comes to you in a dream. Butt was suggested to me by a teacher who heard me say “but…” a lot. Kapinski came from an old boyfriend. It feels very comfy to me.
LAFF: So Butt is a clown and a private eye. How’d you come up with the odd pairing?
BK: I once heard Fran Leibowitz say, “Every Jewish woman wants to be a private eye.” So there you go. I love the noir genre and the author Raymond Chandler, creator of my fictional hero Philip Marlowe. Seediness, perversion and darkness bring out the giddy delight in me.
LAFF: You play a great character. Your choices are very well thought out and deliberate. Talk to me about the training and experience that got you there.
BK: I come from a physical theater background, and then a lot of improv comedy, and then I moved into clown and bouffon. I’ve also spent a lot of time teaching high school kids. The character is me, you know. It’s me when I take off my human costume and get down to it. I’m a pig in shit when I get to be Butt Kapinski.
LAFF: How is Butt similar to clowns we’ve grown to know?
BK: If the clowns you’ve grown to know are Charlie Chaplin, juggalos and John Wayne Gacy, then I’d say Butt is quite similar to those.
LAFF: Were you afraid of clowns growing up? How about currently?
BK: I was terrified of clowns growing up. And then as an adult, I realized that I had just been terrified of bad clowns. Now bad clowns just make me mad.
LAFF: Your costume is really elaborate. Have you gotten completely used to moving with all the elements or does it present any problems for you?
BK: The street light presents its own challenges. It’s not incredibly comfortable. But fuck it, it’s super fun and wearing it means I can go anywhere in a space and be dramatically lit. Who else can say that?
LAFF: What can audiences expect from your show?
BK: Sin, sex, violence, metaphors, perversion, powerful uses of the semi-colon, and a lot of noir style. Also I suspect we will have some fun.
LAFF: Have you been to Austin? What are you excited to see while you’re here?
BK: I looove Austin. I’ve only been once so I’m psyched to return. I don’t know much about the comedy/theater scene in Austin so that’s a really exciting thing for me. Also, great music. Cowboy boots. Gingerbread pancakes.
LAFF: Are you teaching any classes or leading any workshops while here? Tell me about them!
BK: Hell yes! I’m offering a Naked Comedy workshop at the Hideout Theatre. This is an opportunity for funny people to strip down and explore their funny core. I love seeing usually-verbal performers discover how little they really have to do to be loved and get laughs.
Here’s the link for the class: http://www.hideouttheatre.com/classes/naked-comedy
I’m hoping some Austin folks will get naked with me.
Metaphorically, of course.