Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CLOWN ALLEY: Penguin Gag; Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey (2009)

This is the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Blue Unit's 2nd year Clown Alley performing their Penguin Gag. This was filmed in Nashville, TN. on Saturday, January 24th at 7:30 pm.


Anonymous said...

There's nothing 'clown' about those penguins. They look so pedestrian. It really kills me how unskilled those clowns are. There isn't one stand-out character. It looks like Tom is in the ring with a bunch of audience members who were invited to dress up and run around in formation.

I guess things have to go down before they can go up. It's not just the economy that's falling, it's the talent of Ringling's clowns as well.

Anonymous said...

This is a grand example of what happens when people who do not think funny are put in charge of people who are.

This entire gag premise is dependent on the costumes providing the laughs. Nothing wrong with a sight gag costume, but when that is all you have, then the problem become very apparent. I can only imagine that more than a few of the clowns in the alley are talented, but the way Ringling handles creative people prevents them from being able to perform as individuals and to grow as clowns.

Drew said...

I'm willing to be ALL of those clowns are extremely talented, but Ringling should just let the clowns handle the gags.

I feel like those costumes prevented exaggerated movement. I hear the ZZZ clowns are pretty good. There's hope right?

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to give all the blame to the costumes.

Anonymous said...

Not all the blame can go to the costumes, much is left desired by the gag premise itself. I seem to remember Ringling doing penguins in years past, and it not being funny then. Perhaps they are trying to cash in the penguin popularity that we see in animated kids movies? It does seem Ringling tries to be "current", but sacrifices comedy to gain that end. The entire premise, staging, sound effects, and placement just seem so contrived and, for lack of a better term, "created by commitee", that any chance of the individual clowns bringing character to the piece is lost. I have to wonder what these clowns think of performing in situations like this? Are they all so new to the artform that this is being presented to them as the way to clown? Or is this the way "Ringling" clowns are expected to conform and work within the big circus way of doing things? The end result is they might look like what the public thinks clowns should look like, but really they are empty, character-less people dressed in silly costumes.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first anonymous and with several of the other comments. It's not just that it's a week gag but the performance energy isn't there either. Good or bad you have to give it 100% and the clowns just aren't doing that. That's not an uncommon for many Ringling clowns,and other performers on the show, who simlpy wait till they are out of sight of the director and then they get sloppy. But as soon as the director shows up when you get near New York they suddenly develop a work ethic.
The gag itself starts off okay. The penguins enter walking like penguins, as should be expected, and then for some reason drop that movement so that for the rest of the gag they're simply people in penguin costumes performing table slides. I know performing a gag that really isn't of one's own making can be unpleasant( We've all experienced that on Ringling)but you should never forget that you are performing for the audience and not for yourself. They were performing in a pedestrian manner and their pantomime was weak. No, it was awful.Please have some pride in your work. Be self critical and be your worst critic. Don't coast your way through the year. You are physical comedians! Jeez!!


Anonymous said...

I know several of these clowns, and let me tell you, not a one of them had any creative control or input in the slightest in the creation of this "gag". Notes of "be more like penguins" followed right after by "why don't you have any character?"

This is a perfect example of what Ringling has become. Watered-down shows directed by bureaucrats and focus group, designed to push merchandise and cash in on popular memes. Putting anything out there because people will come to a Ringling show for the Ringling name alone, who cares if it's any good.

The clowns in this show are dancers in makeup at best.. and believe me, it's not how they'd prefer it. Ringling clowns only get preshow anymore, then they die a horrible stinky death at the hands of incompetent directors because concessions is where you make your money.. not good clowning.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what all the hubub is about... I liked the gag. The penguin costumes were cute, the snowball was really funny, and I thought the table slides were really good.

Anonymous said...

As one of the clowns in this gag (well, I was the first year of the tour before I ended my contract) I reiterate what was said before. Directors and management told us we'd be doing a penguin gag. The clowns came up with some great ideas, and they were all pretty much shot down to be over-ridden by what was thought to be good by management and directors. The clowns had next to no say in what happened in the gag, and the costumes hindered movement more than you can imagine. I do agree it can always have more energy and "clowning" but the costumes and the directing both limited our freedom to be "clowns." Yes, we were dancers in greasepaint for the majority of the show-and not by our choice.