John Stork is an actor, writer, and clown! He began his training in circus arts at age thirteen with Zina & Valodia Augustov, former Soviet acrobats with the Moscow State Circus. He has performed with Circus Smirkus, SeaWorld, The Midnight Circus, The Second City, and on his own as a professional busker. He played “The Handyman” in the clown play "Out of Orbit" in NYC. In the summer of 2010 he was the star of Yakov Smirnoff’s Moscow Circus, playing the main character “Andrei The Clown.” John appears alongside Taylor Lautner and Pat Morita in the independent film “Shadow Fury,” as the lead villain “Kismet,” performing many of his own stunts and fight choreography. He has also appeared on television, once again performing many of his own stunts and martial-arts choreography, starring as “Goku” from Dragonball-Z in a national Burger King commercial, as “Hyper-Strike” on Sci-Fi Channel & Stan Lee’s “Who Wants To Be A Superhero?” and performing his comedy-martial-arts-acrobatic-board-breaking act on Comedy Central.
John is currently starring with The Piccolini Trio in "Circus in a Trunk" at the Canal Park Playhouse in NYC (508 Canal Street) through January 29 on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 4pm. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer/clown? JACKIE CHAN. His masterful combination of martial arts, acrobatics, comedy, stunts, and prop manipulation inspired me like nothing else had. But also, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, before I discovered Chan when I was 11.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Jackie Chan, Akira Toriyama, Yusuke Murata, Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Stephen Chow, Edgar Wright, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Daniele Finzi Pasca.
3. How did you become part of the Piccolini Trio? Me and Josh Shack (director for the Piccolini Trio) have been close friends for over 10 years ever since we met at Circus Smirkus in 2001. Thanks to him, I got to make my clown debut in 2007 when he cast me in his clown play "Out of Orbit", also his directorial debut. The collaboration was great for both of us, but our careers went down separate paths afterward, during which time Josh formed the Piccolini Trio with Joy Powers and Shea Vaccaro. In the fall of 2010, he called me about possibly filling in for Shea who was unavailable for their impending engagement at the Canal Park Playhouse. I was more than happy to work with him again. Since then, Shea has decided to focus on a career in music and I've become his full-time replacement.
4. What excites you about performing "Circus in a Trunk" and at the Canal Park Playhouse? I enjoy performing for a live audience. I enjoy performing in a very physical way, combining character work with physical skill. "Circus in a Trunk" and the Canal Park Playhouse are both ideal for these things. Furthermore, this show is very collaborative, so I feel directly involved with the creative process. It is extremely satisfying to work with people you respect; writing, directing, producing, and performing your own work together. We are constantly able to experiment and hone our abilities on every level. Kipp Osborne, Sara Murphy, and everyone else at the Canal Park Playhouse has been unbelievably nurturing, encouraging, and understanding of everything we do. They've made it possible for us to not only continue growing as artists, but to also receive copious amounts of laughter and applause while we do it, all the while being paid for our work. I think any artist working (or attempting to work!) today can tell you how rare that is. On top of all this, we get to do it in New York City. It is a privilege to work at the Canal Park Playhouse and we are extremely grateful to them. We can't thank them enough. :)
5. What do you enjoy about working with the Piccolini Trio as opposed to your solo shows? Josh, Joy, and everyone at the Playhouse is super talented. When I'm working by myself, the sum talent of the show is solely my own. With this production, there are that many more people's talents involved, for a much larger grand total of talent and entertainment. Also, my solo shows are mostly street performing, so it's nice to have a roof over my head, not to mention lights, sound, and waffles... :) However, the thing I most appreciate about this collaboration is Josh's ability to push me into action. I am a perfectionist and, if left to my own devices, will often do nothing rather than compromise. Josh gets me actually doing what I love, and what's more valuable than that? I couldn't be more thankful.
6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together? Where is your favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? I like writing and brainstorming; actually coming up with the ideas. I dislike building props or working on costumes. I guess that goes back to what I was talking about earlier; how I have a tendency to be very, almost solely, cerebral, and Josh is one of the few people who can consistently get my head out of the clouds and my butt out of this chair. He gets me to stop dreaming and start acting, literally.
My favorite place to rehearse is the old Karate dojo where I grew up taking classes and got my black belt. As a matter of fact, my Mom still studies there and is now a 6th degree black belt!!! (But I still started before her... :) The master there, Freddie LaPan, has never accepted any money from me and has always let me practice there for free! It's very centering for me when I'm training there.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer/clown? Well, my life is completely centered around my performing, so I guess, you could say, everything I know.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Ha, ha. The best advice I ever received is contained throughout the entirety of the best book I ever read. But that book is a secret... (In the future, I hope to write and direct animation and I want to animate that book, but I want it to be a surprise for my future fans...I have a pretty active imagination, huh? :) Anyway, I'll instead cite another one of my favorite books, which has similar themes to my all-time favorite, since it too contains page upon page of the absolute best advice I've ever received. That book is "Walden", by Henry David Thoreau.
9. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Ha, ha. I'd rather not dream of anyone; I just want to relax while I'm asleep!!! :) My dreams are usually stressful, so I'd prefer not to have any at all. And, furthermore, in reference to my personal conflict of dreaming v.s. acting, I'd like to quote Mr. Thoreau from the book I just mentioned above:
"Through an infirmity of our natures, we suppose a case, and put ourselves into it, and hence are in two cases at the same time, and it is doubly difficult to get out. In sane moments we regard only the facts, the case that is. Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe. ... ... Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."
10. What made you want to audition for "Who Wants To Be A Superhero"? What was it like/did it mean to you to come in 2nd place? At the time that "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" was casting, I was in the habit of performing as a Japanese anime/manga/videogame inspired superhero character. A friend of mine heard about the casting call (I was living in Chicago at the time, working for The Midnight Circus), and they thought I'd be perfect for it and I agreed. I was just really into doing anything as that character at the time. :)
Coming in 2nd bummed me out, but I really respected The Defuser, and truthfully, then and now, think he would make a much better real-life superhero than I would. Either way, filming that show as a blast. Watching it on the other hand... :)
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? I like to read a new volume of manga. That's my favorite day off activity. "One Piece" and "Bakuman" are my favorite titles right now. I don't really play too many videogames anymore, but when I do, I go for classics like "Super Mario Bros. 3", or "Sonic 2". I also like to watch a good film I haven't seen before. Or anything by Miyazaki. His films recharge and inspire me. I also like to read books. I'm trying to learn how to speed read now so I can read much more. I often re-read my favorite books.
My favorite way to stay in shape is Chinese Wushu class! Right now I'm learning a broadsword form and soon we're going to learn a Snake-Fist form! (Anyone wondering how there can be a "snake-fist", check out "Snake In The Eagle's Shadow", Jackie Chan's first breakout hit film, directed by Yuen Woo-ping!!!!!)
12. Boxers or Briefs? Ha, ha. Come see "The Piccolini Trio: Circus In A Trunk" at the Canal Park Playhouse and find out! (Seriously, I'm sorry to say you really will... :)
13. Favorite website? Wikipedia. I'm always looking stuff up. I should probably donate...
14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Ha, ha. I think a better question for me and my tastes would be "Son Goku or Sailor Moon?" :)