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.

SHANE CASHIN: Christmas Portrait, 2008

ELMO GIBB REMEMBERS: Damascus Shrine Circus Clown Alley, 1981

Top row: Middy Streeter, John Kane, Buck Nolan, Mike Naughton.

Bottom row: Elmo Gibb, Bobby Davis, Vern Woerner, Rick Legg.
(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.

THE BEATLES vs RADIOHEAD vs PINOCCHIO: Psychedelic Magical Mystery Mashup

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the first airing of the Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour on the BBC.

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.


If anyone needs me, I'll be downstairs wire-walking, Phillipe Petit-style, on Wii Fit.

BARRY LUBIN: The Ventriloquist Gag; Big Apple Circus, 1995

Link suggested by Mike Naughton

Barry Lubin and Phil Stein from the Big Apple Circus' Jazzmatazz.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HAPPY FESTIVUS: December 23, 2008

Who would like to begin the "Airing of Grievances"?

IN MEMORIAM: Rex Young, 1931-2008

Bill Strong sends word that Rex Young passed away on Sunday from injuries sustained from his fall.

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.

"Count De Boxcar" was much loved on the Shrine circuit and a sadly under-appreciated clown during his lifetime. He was inventive, creative and, as a Producing Clown, deserves to be thought of in a league with Paul Jung, Lou Jacobs, Jerry Bangs, Jimmy Douglass and performers of that caliber.

Another important link to American circus clowning's past has been lost.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Sandy and we are deeply sorry for her loss.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I would have posted something last night but the calendar from Shane's school has tonight as the first night.

It's not. The first night was "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!"

Spin the dreidel,

REX YOUNG: More Bad News

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


For those of you who don't know, Rex was longtime fixture on the Shrine circuit and very prolific producing clown. In fact, he was just about the last of the professional producing clowns on the Shrine dates as he retired at about the time that the Shrines and the producers stopped using pros and handed the chores over to the Shrine Clowns and their hysterical "skits".

Please keep Rex in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season.

RANDY CABRAL: Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Congrats to my pal Randy Cabral on his recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno!

Is Jay Leno flashing a gang sign in this picture? What's next? Letterman giving "The Shocker"?


I spent yesterday afternoon deep in the bowels of Broadway's Helen Hayes Theater showing circus and vaudeville clown videos to Slava Polunin and the cast of Slava's Snowshow. Charlie Rivel, Chaz Chase, Willie, West & McGinty, Johnny Puleo, O'Donnell & Blair and George Carl were all very big hits.

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 ; )

PEE-WEE HERMAN: Christmas Greeting to CLOWNALLEY.NET from Paul Reubens!

AL SIMMONS: Get To Know Him!

One of Shane's favorite recording artists is Al Simmons. The following information is from his website, which can be accessed by clicking the title of this post...

Al Simmons’ one-man, multi-prop, music-filled, off the wall performances have elevated audiences world-wide to collective giggles and all-out guffaws. At once childlike in its simplicity and sophisticated in its execution, Al’s humour touches a responsive chord in people of every age.

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

SUNDAY MORNING ART GALLERY: The Fratellinis by Rolf Knie


OK, so last night's poll results are as follows...

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)

7 Tom Doughery

8 Fumagalli and Daris, Rocco Paris (tie)

9 Slava Polunin

10 Aga-Boom, Umbilical Bros. (tie)

Congratulations to all the winners! This was just a preliminary test of the poll feature, run for a few hours on a Saturday night. It was in no way meant to be conclusive but I'm sure that the winners are glad to know that folks appreciate their work.

Now that I know more about the poll feature (both it's strengths and it's limitations) perhaps we could use it here more often.