The Flying Karamazov Brothers Swoop into Center for the Arts

Posted: October 2, 2009 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: October 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm

The Flying Karamazov Brothers aren’t Russian. They aren’t brothers. And they certainly don’t fly. Misnomers aside, this four-member comedy troupe is as wacky as their name implies. Once again, center audiences will have the opportunity to witness this funny foursome when they return to Mason’s Center for the Arts on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 4 p.m.

A zany combination of theater, comedy, music and juggling (with objects as diverse as bowling balls and chain saws) with a bit of philosophy thrown in for good measure, The Flying Karamazov Brothers are the most enduring, immensely popular and unique phenomena performing today.

The group was founded in 1973, when founders Paul Magid and Howard Patterson were working as juggling street performers in San Francisco. After spending two years honing their craft, Magid and Patterson began performing on the campus of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and were soon joined by Randy Nelson and Timothy Furst.

They christened themselves The Flying Karamazov Brothers after seeing similarities between themselves and the characters in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov,” and each chose a Russian stage name.

After spending several years performing on the street and in smaller venues, The Flying Karamazov Brothers graduated to performing in more established theaters, and their professional debut in the Goodman Theater in Chicago in 1980 helped launch the Karamazovs onto the national scene.

Among their most notable performances are appearances in the film “The Jewel of the Nile” and in an episode of “Seinfeld” titled “The Friars Club,” in which they appeared as The Flying Sandos Brothers. They have also performed a unique adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” at Lincoln Center that was aired on PBS’s “Live from Lincoln Center.”

The Karamazovs also incorporate music into their performances and are adept with a wide variety of musical instruments, including percussion, brass and woodwinds. In 1981, they performed music live with the Grateful Dead at a performance in Germany.

Throughout the course of the group’s history, The Flying Karamazov Brothers have performed at numerous venues both in the United States and abroad and have gone through several lineup changes, but they have always stayed true to presenting comedy that appeals to audiences of all ages.

The current incarnation of The Flying Karamazov Brothers includes writer, director and founder Paul Magid (Dmitri); resident musician, composer and conductor Mark Ettinger (Alexei); master juggler Roderick Kimball (Pavel); and Stephen Bent (Zossima), the newest Karamazov, whose parents attended a Flying Karamazov Brothers performance in 1982 as their first date.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21; tickets for youth through grade 12 are half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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