Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
From the July 21, 1911 issue of The Player, a vaudeville trade magazine put out by The White Rats Actor's Union, comes an ad bought by Producing Clown extraordinaire, Jim Rutherford.
Mr. Rutherford created the Firehouse Gag, long a staple of the American three ring circus. This ad gives the origin of the gag as being 1911 on the Sells-Floto Circus and describes it as "The Biggest and Most Expensive Entree Ever Attempted".
Now if we just had a photograph of Mr. Rutherford in makeup...
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Anyone near the Dallas/Ft.Worth area should check out the Lone Star Circus December 27-31st at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts in Dallas, TX featuring those NY Goofs Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley!
For more information, please click here.
(This was Vern Woerner's first appearance in makeup)
From Dean "Elmo Gibb" Chambers...
I've been looking for this alley picture for quite some time. I'd forgotten how big this print was--I couldn't get the whole thing into the scanner. This alley was hired by Jim Douglass for Gracie McIntosh's M&M Circus Internationale February 1981.
Middy Streeter was a fixture on Shrine circuses for a few years. One helluva nice guy.
Bobby Davis was Billy Barton's right-hand man. Billy loaned him to Jim Douglass for the alley. Most audiences remember Bobby for setting web for Billy Barton, wearing only a feathered G-string and a jeweled headband, the briefest costume I ever saw on an American male perfomer. He had so much fun working with the group that he became a full-time clown. When Billy became too decrepit to do his cloud swing, he and Bobby did a clown drag number with Billy as Baby Jane (he had a thing for Bette Davis impersonation). I worked the 1984 Zerbini tour with Bobby. He was a world of fun. I miss him.
Rick Legg was a magician and pretty talented announcer. I worked the 1983 M&M tour with him. He clowned the indoor dates and announced the outdoor dates. Don Bridwell and I worked the toothache and camera gags with Rick on the microphone. avery performance was different and spontaneous, with all three of us egging each other on.
Vern Woerner was Jim Douglass' partner. Each winter Vern would build the props for Jim and I would paint them (sometimes I would do both). Vern drove the truck (Jim always carried three ring curbs, lights, sound, clown props, four floats and spec wardrobe) and supervised the set-ups and teardowns of the shows. He was the hardest working person I have ever known, and a fiercely loyal friend, once you got to know him.
For over 40 years Jim Douglass put together alleys. He usually hired eight professional clowns. Every year he produced three to five original ring gags or new variations on the classics. Although he was rarely on the big name shows (he was with Pollack Bros. for many years), he worked for 40 years (the first professional circus he ever produced was at the DeLand, FL at AGE FIFTEEN!), taking time off only for military duty. He is also on record as having twin dog acts with 21 dogs in each act!!!
Jim was also one of the founders of the Clowns of America organization. He also designed and built the original Ronald McDonald wardrobe--he lost out on the make-up design and the company instead went with the busted watermelon ass make-up we all know. In my estimate Jim Douglass is the most important US producing clown after Paul Jung. I hope some group eventually recognizes him for a lifetime achievement award.
In honor of the Beatles most experimental foray into film, here is the best Beatles mashup video that I've seen in awhile: "There Are No Strings on Me" from Walt Disney's Pinocchio seemlessly mashed up with Radiohead's Creep video and the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" scene from Yellow Submarine.
Barry Lubin and Phil Stein from the Big Apple Circus' Jazzmatazz.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
From the Holland Sentinel...
Posted Dec 22, 2008 @ 04:32 PM
Holland, MI —
Rex E. Young, age 77, of Holland, died Sunday, December 21, 2008, at Lifecare Hospital in Muskegon.
Rex was a well known performer (clown) for 40 years traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. He was an avid golfer.
He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Sandra; sisters-in-law, Mrs. William (Vivian) McKnight of Hamilton, OH, Mrs. Kenneth (Adeline) Decker of Holland; several nephews, nieces and cousins.
A memorial service will be 10:00 a.m. Monday, December 29, 2008 at Lakeshore Memorial Services, 11939 James Street in Holland. Reverend Henry Idema will be officiating. Cremation has taken place.
Visitation will be from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, December 28, 2008 at Lakeshore Memorial Services. Memorial contributions may be given to American Heart Association or Grace Episcopal Church. An on-line registry book is available at www.lakeshorememorial .com for those who cannot attend the services.
It would be nice if folks would take a minute to visit the Lakeshore Memorial site and leave a message for Sandy.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Because this holiday season just seems to be chock full of bad news, word comes from Michigan about Rex "Count De Boxcar" Young...
Rex fell down his stairs, what looked like a broken nose.. has turned into something far more serious. He is not expected to recover. Something far worse happened when he fell, he continued to get worse and worse. Scott's dad went to see him in the hospital, he is not responsive, not able to speak, and I will try to find out more and let you know.
All my tries to connect with him were unsuccessful, I am so sick about this
Please keep Rex in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.
Last week I showed footage of Otto Griebling and Freddie Freeman doing the Boxing Gag and I'm sure that you could have heard the laughter all the way across 44th street.
While backstage I also had the opportunity to emotionally and physically support Ms. Hilary Chaplain and got to meet Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker and their six year old son, James.
Matthew and SJP and I discussed the show. James and I discussed clowns, Halloween, Christmas and Star Wars.
James likes Luke. Shane like Anakin ; )
Vaudeville’s half-century run of popularity may have died back in the 1940's, but don’t try to tell that to Al Simmons or the crowds of fans that have packed theatres across North America to see him. Into the tradition of the great comedy kings--Danny Kaye, Spike Jones and Jimmy Durante--comes Al Simmons, a man dedicated to the all but lost art of combining comedy with song, dance, magic, and sight-gags. The end result is a one-man variety show--one hour of old-fashioned good-natured fun.
In the entertainment business since 1970, the popular Manitoba-based children’s performer is likely Canada’s most versatile comedian. He puts on a funfest, full of bizarre gadgets, wild costumes, unique songs, crazy vaudeville-inspired routines and of course bad puns.
It's as if he was genetically engineered for comedy. From his distant Romanian and Scottish ancestors Al has inherited a quick wit, lanky legs, large flipper like feet and a rubber face. His father, a charismatic magazine salesman and would be performer, spent many hours telling tall tales and re-enacting old vaudeville routines in their living-room. Al's Mom taught the budding young vaudevillian the genteel art of punning, silly songs and magic tricks. But the most important thing that his parents taught him was how to use his talents to do good and bring happiness to the world without hurting anyone. His extended family was made up of punsters, pranksters and eccentrics, including Al's Uncle Nick, who toured Eastern Canada as Steamboat Harris, best known for playing a ukulele made out of a toilet seat!
Al’s debut album "Something’s Fishy at Camp Wiganishie" earned a Juno nomination for best Children’s Album. His follow up recording was a brilliant ode to vaudeville, "Celery Stalks at Midnight". It won the 1995 Juno Award and the 1996 U.S. Parents’ Choice Award. "The Truck I Bought From Moe", his third album, garnered a Juno nomination and a Parents’ Choice Award. He is an author; “Counting Feathers,” his illustrated children’s book, was short-listed for the McNally-Robinson Book of the Year in 1997. He received a coveted Cable Ace Award nomination for his music video "I Collect Rocks," which is also the title track of his brand new DVD that contains 6 of his wacky music videos and features his Horse-cycle “Ol’ Spoke”.
Al and his wife Barbara have been married since 1976 and live in harmony and pandemonium near the small Manitoba town of Anola. They have three sons, Karl, Will, and Brad, and two granddaughters, Ashley and Kaitlin. Their home, built around two train cars, is equipped with a fire-pole that connects an upstairs shop with a main-floor playroom lined with mattresses and filled with pillows. Their 15-acre yard is flowered with zip lines, Tarzan ropes, slides and swings.
A Creative Genius with the Soul of a Vaudevillian -Al Simmons is a one-man cast of thousands! A modern day comedy chameleon! A wizard of one-liners!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
1 Barry Lubin
2 Bill Irwin
3 Greg and Karen DeSanto
4 David Shiner
5 David Larible
6 Mitch Freddes, Jeff Gordon, Bello Nock (tie)
8 Fumagalli and Daris, Rocco Paris (tie)
9 Slava Polunin
10 Aga-Boom, Umbilical Bros. (tie)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Any working clown act, anywhere in the world, is eligible for nomination; just ask and they will be added to the list.
I've come to find out that names can only be added until the first vote is cast, then it becomes locked. So this isn't really the solution that I was after.
I'm changing the closing time on the poll, so voting will end at midnight tonight and results will be posted immediately after.
Jeff’s first experience as a clown on the Ringling show had not been conclusive, but he felt much more comfortable in the intimate, one-ring European format of the Big Apple Circus. So, in 1983, he became a full-fledged member of that circus’s Clown Alley as "Gordoon," a new, and this time, definitive clown persona. Mr. Stubbs, Gordoon & Grandma would be, for the five years that followed, the iconic clown trio of the Big Apple Circus.
In 1989, in a quixotic attempt to run away from the circus and join a home, Jeff found himself on Broadway, playing The Dean in Bill Irwin’s Largely New York, a role he subsequently played on tour. He was back at the Big Apple Circus in 1991-1992, in Greetings from Coney Island, and 1992-1993, in Going Places, where he was the show’s lead character.
Then Jeff went on to perform in Asia, appeared with Bill Irwin in the Seattle Rep’s production of Molière’s Scapin, and was for several years "Le Clown Gordoon" at the French Pavillion of Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. He then moved to San Francisco, where he was involved with the very successful Teatro ZinZanni. In 2000-2001, Gordoon was back to the Big Apple Circus, where he starred in Clown Around Town with Tom Dougherty.
Afterwards, Jeff Gordon participated in the Tianjin International Comedy Festival in China (2001), and toured with Circus Vidbel in 2004. He has since worked extensively on dates in the U.S. and in Asia. In 2007 and 2008, he was with Zany Umbrella Circus in Amman, at the Jordan’s Children Museum. He has done many Artist-in-Residencies in the Pittsburgh area, where he now lives.