Michel Lauzière at the Ottawa Children’s Festival

Earlier in the Spring, I was contacted by the Ottawa International Children’s Festival and invited to take my family to a show of our choice in exchange for cartooning about our experience. How’s that for an awesome deal? I was honoured and psyched all at once. 

In case you aren’t familiar with it (and I wasn’t, before this year), The Children’s Festival is a yearly outdoor celebration of “the best in live performing arts for children,” featuring world-class performers as well as a variety of on-site activities for kids and families. Man, Ottawa’s such a great city for raising kids, isn’t it?

We went early in the day so we could check out the goings-on around the grounds before the show. I was most excited to see the Luminarium (an inflated world of light and colour!) and the Instrument Petting Zoo. I’m all about any exposure the boys can get to musical instruments. I took mental notes for activities I know the Brobeans will appreciate when they’re older, too.  

When picking a show, it wasn’t easy to decide which performance would be best to see with my two boys under 5. There were many options suitable for younger kids, including theatre and acrobatics combined with live music. Luckily, the festival’s website included videos for many of the performers, so we could get a sense of what they would be like. I wanted a show with lots of visuals for the kids (and for cartoon material, natch). In the end, we decided on Michel Lauzière, the Master of Unusual Comedy. *I* was excited to see it. Never mind the kids. 

We were one of the first in the circus tent, which meant we got some nice third-row-centre seats on the bleachers. Great seats for viewing, not-so-great seats for getting out of there if one of the kids doesn’t make it, we realized as the venue filled to capacity. Uh oh. Before the show, they were starting to get restless: 

This wasn’t looking good. (what is it with this kid losing footwear out in public?). 

But, once Mr. Lauzière came onstage and showed us his Dishophone— a big rack full of various mugs, plates and bowls– and started playing a tune on it with a wooden spoon, the kids perked up like meerkats. 

What a great show! Lauzière has performed all over the world, in many languages at that, and is truly a world-class performer. Not only is he engaging with the kids, he’s an incredibly talented inventor, musician and comedian.

Lauzière has MacGyvered crazy instruments out of household items, and he plays them– and not like the lame-o coffee-can drums or shakers I’ve made at home. Better than that. He wears his instruments. He plays them by shooting them with water pistols, by blowing plastic darts through a tube or by just moving around with flair.

I tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard the Peter Gunn theme played with a turkey baster, plastic spoons, and a peanut butter jar being beaten by a shoelace on a rotating machine (aptly named the “toc-toc”, if I recall). 

Click to Enlarge

The show was almost an hour long, and though my kids were up and down at times in their seats (sorry, kid in front of us, that my toddler kept attempting to rub your head) they were captivated nearly the whole time, which says a lot for 2- and 4- year-olds.

In fact, all the kids (and adults) in the audience were laughing, clapping along and interacting with Mr. Lauzière right up to the finale. I was hoping he would bring out the suit of horns I’d seen in the videos (AKA the Hornophone), and I wasn’t disappointed. I’d see this show without kids.  

As an aside, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Lauzière: remember that toddler that briefly burst into tears during your 12 p.m. Tuesday show when you took out your broom-and-ketchup-bottle instrument? Yeah. That was mine. He’d gotten his leg stuck somehow when I was too busy being enthralled by the performance. It wasn’t about the music, I swear.  

When we got home, Big Bro was all inspired musically. He treated his parents to his own one-man music show, complete with myriad shakers and bells and TWO (count ’em) kazoos.

It was… um… also good. I think I got a nosebleed.

Afterward, I encouraged him for some reason by taping a bunch of the instruments to his arms and legs, so we had our own little Master of Unusual Comedy in our living room. It was unusual, alright. If you saw a kid out on a balance bike Tuesday night with maracas and a tambourine masking-taped to his leg, that was also mine, and it was homage to the memorable performance of Michel Lauzière.  


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Category: Arts/Entertainment, Babies & Toddlers, Dads, Entertainment, Events, Family, Kids, Living, Moms, Ottawa Events, Reviews

About the Author ()

I am a lifelong (award-winning!) cartoonist and mother of two delightful boys, aged 7 and 5. I like to view today's adventures in parenting as material for tomorrow's cartoon. Looking at family life through "cartoon-coloured glasses" helps me keep the all-important sense of humour required for raising kids... even for the events that don't seem so funny at the time.

Comments (5)

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  1. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Brilliant cartoons, looks and sounds like you all had a good time, you cartoons are priceless 🙂

  2. kathy downey says:

    Priceless,I love your cartoon.Sounds like it was a wonderful event

  3. Fan R says:

    Honestly, would be awesome to see it, some support for my crazy life, I always think it is only me who gets that.

  4. Victoria Ess says:

    Wow, this sounds like such a fun show!

  5. kathy downey says:

    Your cartoons always bright a smile to my face

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