Sometimes, all you need is stupid.
Performance artist Matthew Silver has honed his improvisational “village idiot” act — including headless rubber chickens and fart noises — on the streets for years, in hopes of getting Brooklynites to stop being so darn smart and just enjoy themselves.
“My show is about getting people to use their hearts more than their brains,” said Silver, whose regular appearances around the borough include performances at Goodbye Blue Monday, Muchmore’s, and 3rdeyesolation.
“The brain tells you not to like things, but your heart is an energy source. My inspiration is to try to open up the love portal through performance art.”
One of Silver’s more elaborate antics includes a cigarette pancake — where he tries to convince audience members to pretend to eat a cigarette as if it were a pancake.
Making an idiot out of himself is Silver’s way of breaking through the audience’s defenses.
“He’s a true bouffant,” said “Scary” Ben Doray, one of the producers of Bushwick Burlesque, where Silver performed last week. “He plays this village idiot character and uses a childlike innocence to convey a message. He’s holding up a mirror to the audience.”
In one evening’s performance at the Bushwick Burlesque, Silver came off in turns as confrontational and touching. The artist was not listed on the bill and instead planted himself in the audience. During the show’s second set, he jumped onto the stage and launched a rant against negativity. Then he pulled out his signature headless rubber chicken and a children’s chalkboard and, as it became more clear that he was part of the show, led the audience on a chorus of fart sounds.
Silver, 33, started his career in performance art when he was an undergrad at Ithaca College — though it may not have seemed like much of a career at the time.
“One day I got stoned and put on a dress and ran around people and they were cracking up,” said Silver. “After that, I started experimenting on city streets.”
Now that he’s running his own shows, Silver scouts for interesting acts at his performance art open mics at 3rdeyesolation. A few shows back, he found a woman who made Hobbit references and then cut off her body hair and glued it to the top of her feet.
“A lot of people don’t perform because they think they have to be so entertaining that they have a joke a minute,” said Silver. “But you really just have to engage the audience and push yourself through the embarrassment.”
Matthew Silver at Muchmore’s [2 Havemeyer St. between N. Eighth and N. Ninth streets, (718) 576–3222, www.maninw