Saturday, August 19, 2006

That Was Then, This Is Now: Bill Irwin

Before he was a two-time Tony award winning Broadway star, before he was a highly respected character actor in numerous films, before he was the first performer, let alone clown, to ever win the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (the "genius grant"), before he and his partners David Shiner and the Red Clay Ramblers created their show Fool Moon and before he won the hearts of every child on earth as Elmo's pal Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street he was just another Ringling Clown College graduate named Bill Irwin.

OK, even then he kind of stood out as being really good.

Bill alledgedly turned down a Ringling contact offer from Irvin Feld, headed west and became an original member of the Pickle Family Circus, where he spent five years in their alley as "Willy the Clown" working alongside Geoff "Mr. Sniff" Hoyle and Larry "Lorenzo Pickle" Pisoni.

Soon he would become one of the most well known figures, and one of the greatest success stories, of the "New Circus" and "New Vaudeville" movements.

And he's a really nice guy!


24-HOUR-MAN said...

David Shiner is one of several American Clowns making a big splash in Europe.

Anonymous said...

I went to cc with Bill. He was already accomplished in alot of things. He did his waiter routine with the spaghetti. He was also the original partner of Barry Lubin in the ventriloquist gag that became very popular with Barry using many differnt partners. My memories of Bill are that he was very funny,hard worker,and great guy to watch.