photos: Travis Guba

About the Artist

The Short Answer

Deanna Fleysher is a comedy artist, teacher and director devoted to fierce vulnerability and interactive comedy magic. She tours the world with her award-winning hit show BUTT KAPINSKI and her popular performance workshops Naked Comedy (Fully Clothed) and Drag King Comedy. She directs comedy artists who work without a 4th wall and teaches audience connection and physical presence to people of all ages.

The Long Answer

My first acting teacher was actually a clown (don’t call it clown).

I was 6 years old, painfully shy, and my parents thought theater might open me up a bit. My teacher (shout out to Tim Anderson!) opened me up to a world of expressiveness on stage, and I’ve never loved anything more.

I grew up in a household in which my parents have always fought about who is funnier (they’re both funny), my sister is funny, everyone is funny and loves to laugh and loves comedy. I learned a lot about being funny by watching them, as well as early Saturday night live, SCTV, anything with Madeline Kahn or Carol Kane or Gene Wilder. 

After early professional acting gigs as a kid, and nonstop acting training as a teen, I studied with the incredible Peter Lobdell at Amherst College, who taught me to bring my truth and my body to everything I did on stage. I learned the harold from a guy who learned it from Del Close. I moved to New York City. 

I continued my training in improvisation with luminaries in NYC like Burn Manhattan, and at the PIT, UCB and Magnet Theaters. Action Theater with Cassie Terman, butoh with Jeff Janisheski, Clown (don’t call it clown) masters Giovanni Fusetti, Mick Barnfather, and many more. I taught high school English and Theater for a long time, and wrote a few (mediocre) novels. I directed improvised interpretive dance and intimacy-themed comedy shows. I got into film noir and immersive experiences. I moved to LA (the best clown scene {don’t call it clown!} in North America!), taught there for a while and then more recently, to Bellingham, Washington. 

My solo show Butt Kapinski debuted in 2012, but really hit it big in 2013, and led to pretty steady touring gigs until 2020. I’m lucky to have had two fabulous runs at Edinburgh Fringe, a week off-Broadway in NYC, and great runs at theaters in England, Finland, Norway, and across the US, Canada and Australia. I’ve been lucky enough to direct touring shows of solo artists and duos in England, North America and Australia, and a big drag king show in Vancouver, BC. 

A curious gaggle of characters have followed my own Butt Kapinski: Peanut Butter the rock ‘n’ roll werewolf, Ziggy Cupid Mellencamp, Dolores Slow Loris, Ol’ Linda, Bob the Destroyer. I continue to find new ways to unleash big, weird characters onto the world, as well as push my performing practice beyond the walls of traditional theaters to include experiential platforms. 

My current obsessions are drag, immersive experiences and who am I kidding, still film noir. 

I teach clown (don’t call it clown) because I am convinced of its power to strip the performer of pretense and get at the heart of their comedy and their lovability. I have taught this work for over 10 years now, all over the world, and continue to be in awe of its ability to lead performers of all levels deeper into their unique connections to their audiences, their bodies and their joy. 

These days I’m figuring out how to use online platforms for teaching and creating, having some modest success and some actual fun. 

Keep the dreams big and the bars low!

Deanna Fleysher at Lookout Arts Quarry

photo: Sulai Lopez