Friday, August 25, 2006

Johnny Tripp

The first of literally HUNDREDS of circus clown photos recently (and very generously) donated to this blog from Fred Pfening and the Pfening Archive of rare circus photographs...


Johnny Tripp


One of the oldest clowns traveling with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in the 1940s, Tripp was a virtuoso on the Carillon (Bell Wagon used in parades and in spec).

Tripp, along with a young Bobby Kellogg, created the "Washer Woman" gag in 1944. Built on a classic "tit-for-tat" rhythm of escalating reciprocal violence (a device also used extensively by Laurel and Hardy as the framework for several of their most successful shorts), "The Washer Woman" has become a standard of the American circus canon as well as an excellent "Teaching Gag" for training new clowns.

I believe it was one of a handful of classic gags that was taught to every single student, for all 30 years of Ringling Clown College.

2 comments:

Jess Kiddin said...

The washer woman gag is still a teaching tool. Taught by Leon Buttons McBryde under the supervision of Michael "Coco" Polikovs at Leon's Advanced Studies August 2006 at Buchanan VA. The gag was then performed in the public show right after "the decorators" gag.

Anonymous said...

I think the Dentist Gag, the levitation gag and the boxing routine were the other major gags taught every year at Clown College.

-Greg