Thursday, November 09, 2006

David Shiner

David Shiner picking the first volunteer during a production of FOOL MOON, his show with Bill Irwin and the Red Clay Ramblers.

American clown David Shiner, seen performing his Silent Movie gag at Circus Roncalli in Germany. Most of his work is done in Europe and I believe he is the Director of a variety theater in Berlin.

Whenever I meet someone who has been around the circus industry for awhile I always ask the same two questions:

"Who is the best clown that you ever saw?"

"What's the best clown gag that you ever saw?"

The answer from most folks is always one of the same three: Otto, Lou or Bobo Barnett.

Those who were only around the Ringling show always choose between Otto or Lou (Lou's daughter Lou Ann even chose Otto as her favorite after "Papa" with his Delivery Man bit in the seats being her favorite) while those who spent time on the Shrine circuit always choose either Otto and Bobo.

It would be hard for me to pick a best clown, I've seen a lot of really excellent circus clowning in my lifetime.

I will say that among the ones that make me laugh the loudest are Barry Lubin, Karen DeSanto, Tom Dougherty and David Shiner.

Best clown gag? I would have to say that David Shiner's Silent Movie gag is probably the best circus comedy that I've ever seen.

The gag is genius in it's conception and execution and Shiner is absolutely brilliant in the way that he works with the audience volunteers.

My father-in-law was chosen as "The Clapboard Guy" during the last Broadway run of FOOL MOON, he had the time of his life and still asks "When are they doing that again? We GOTTA go see that again!"

If you've never seen the gag, it is available on the VHS and DVD of Cirque du Soleil's NOUVELLE EXPERIENCE.


Mandy (the Clown) Dalton said...

Hey Pat,

Good call on Shiner! Dominique Jando mentioned him in his workshop when he talked about how hard it was to get the French to leave their seats and volunteer. He said that in competition it was the talk of everyone backstage "How is he going to get the audience to go along." He did it and won. This routine is one of the most brilliant in circus history.

24-HOUR-MAN said...

It is always good to see American artists making it big in Europe, I saw Shiner in the Winter Program in Munich & he "WOWed em". Unlike the French, the German audiences love to get in the ring, they are more than willing to make fools of themselves for a laugh.

Another American Clown doing well there is Tory Cross.

I'm not 100%, but the Variety Theater you speak of may belong to Bernard Paul,(Roncalli).

Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard of Tory Cross for years!
David Shiner worked at Theater Carre in Amsterdam, Holland, last Christmas season, doing the movie routine, and the automobile routine. Unfortunately I didn't make it out there, but a friend who did tells me that DS spent about 30 minutes scouting the audience for suitable people for the routines.
And some just come into the ring and grab the first person available!
About 3 years ago, there were 3 different British circuses on which the principal clown was doing a movie routine. This season there's been just the one.


Pat Cashin said...

Coco Kramer had attempted it here in the States on Dick Garden's Sterling and Reid Circus a few seasons back to underwhelming results.

He then went back to his usual material.


JustLarry said...

Ok get this.
It's a picture of Quidam (cirque du soliel) this year, I believe the clown is Voki (Clown College '95, red show, Cheval, Circus Sarasota ) and that is most definitely the Camera gag.
Sadly I have seen the gag done on 2 different circuses this year (and also done by 3 russian clowns on a Chinese acrobats show) and not done well. UGH!

Anonymous said...

David Shiner has directed a few shows at the Wintergarten in Berlin, which is one of three varietes owned by Bernard Paul. Voki is gone from Quidam now, and Guillermo "Toto" Castineiras is performing both David Shiner gags.