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.