Saturday, January 17, 2009

OTTO GRIEBLING: Madison Square Garden, 1951

I can't believe it!!! It's an absolutely amazing discovery!!!

Absolutely PRISTINE broadcast-quality raw, unedited WABC-TV NY video footage of Otto Griebling's come in IN IT'S ENTIRETY taken from his very FIRST performance with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden in the spring of 1951!

Decades of performance experience distilled into 15 minutes of unparalleled perfection.

EVERYTHING! Working the seats! Working the floor! In the ring! From the moment he walks through the curtain until the whistle blows to start the show, it's all here as clearly as if they had shot it at this morning's matinee.

I have to admit, I had tears in my eyes watching this. It's beautiful.

Please click here.

KEVIN JAMES: America's Got Talent

Friday, January 16, 2009

BARRY LUBIN: Sarasota Circus Celebrity

Congratulations go out today to Mr. Barry Lubin who will be honored as a Sarasota Circus Celebrity this evening at a ceremony at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL.


Look like fun? Think again.

Please click the title of this post to be taken to a recent Onion article about the sad life of Mr. Michael Dewey.


Photo courtesy of AUCIRQUE.COM


"When we pray together, I feel something. I do not know whether you would call it blessings or grace, but in any case there is a certain feeling that we can experience. If we utilize it properly, this feeling is very helpful for developing our inner strength."

VAS & STAS: Warm Up


Happy 29th birthday today to...

Peter Strauss

ELLIOT: Just For Laughs Festival 2

Thursday, January 15, 2009



Ryan Combs and his common-law wife Steve Copeland will be the clowns on all-new 2009 edition of the Kelly-Miller Circus!

They are extremely talented guys and will do an absolutely incredible job. I hope they have an amazing season and I wish them both the very best of luck.


Everything in the universe may be nothing more than a hologram.


Photo courtesy of AUCIRQUE.COM

GREG DESANTO: "Everything But the Kitchen Sink"

Ringmaster Jim Ragona about to get hit with the blow-off to Greg DeSanto's Spike Jones tribute in the 114th Blue Unit of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1994.

Many people often mention this routine to me as being their very favorite Ringling gag of the modern era.


"The more we care for the happiness of others, 
the greater our own sense of well-being becomes."

SHANE CASHIN: Halloween 2003

Going through some old photos for a project in Shane's kindergarten class I found this picture from October 2003 of Shane trying on his first Halloween costume.

Yes, he went out that first Halloween as Bozo the Clown.

He looked so much like a toy in that costume that I grabbed some of my old Bozo stuff from the basement, opened the curtains to his bedroom and took this picture with nothing but my cheap little camera and natural light.

JOE E. BROWN: Bright Lights trailer, 1935

Joe E. Brown's extensive circus and burlesque training serve him well in this familiar but likeable yarn. Brown and Ann Dvorak stars as small-time vaudevillians Joe and Fay Wilson, presently employed by a seedy burlesque troupe. Also on tour with the Wilsons is society girl Peggy (Patricia Ellis), who's merely joined the troupe for a few laughs. Publicity agent Daniel Wheeler (William Gargan) offers Joe a big-time contract, but only if he will team up with Peggy. Surprisingly, Fay goes along with this, though she soon has reason to regret her generosity. The film's many intrigues give way to slapstick when Joe commandeers an airplane to expedite a reconciliation with his ever-loving spouse. The film's comic highlight is Joe E. Brown's "drunken mouse" routine, which later caused him courtroom trouble when comedian Bert Wheeler (of Wheeler & Woolsey) insisted that the bit was his personal property.

Joe E. Brown - Joe Wilson
Ann Dvorak - Fay Wilson
Patricia Ellis - Peggy
William Gargan - Daniel Wheeler
Joseph Cawthorn - Otto Schlemmer
Henry O'Neill - J.C. Anderson, Theatrical Producer
Arthur Treacher - Wilbur
Gordon Westcott - Wellington
Joseph Crehan - Airport Attendant
William Demarest - Detective
William "Wild Bill" Elliott - Actor in Roman Legion Costume
Clarence H. Wilson - Freight Agent

SCOTT AND MURIEL: Monte Carlo, 2008

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Very happy birthday wishes go out today to...

Lisa Soverino

Neal Skoy


How did television take everything that I really love and turn it into six and a half minutes of something that I really don't?



FELIX ADLER: with Modoc, circa 1930s

My very favorite photo of Felix, by Maxwell Fredrick Coplan

MYSTERY CLOWN: with John Stamos

Anyone have any idea who this 80s era mystery clown might be?

And don't tell me "John Stamos".

And don't give me your guesses as to what's going on in this picture. I'm sure that I don't want to know.


"In this ever changing world there are two important things that we should keep in mind. The first id self-examination. We should reexamine our own attitude toward others and constantly check ourselves to see whether we are practicing properly. Before pointing our fingers at others we should point it toward ourselves. Second, we must be prepared to admit our faults and stand corrected."

CLOWN ALLEY: Mills Bros.

Photo courtesy of the archives of Edmund O'Neill

My guess is that this is from the same late 50s/early 60s period as the photos of Herman Joseph and Bumpsy Anthony.

That looks like Hal Haviland on the far right. That may be Billy Griffin next to him.

ELLIOT: Just For Laughs Festival


Cobbled together from several sources that I will credit soon, here is my attempt at a definitive tribute post to "Papa Lou"...


A fixture in the clown alley of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for over five decades, Lou Jacobs was truly a "Master Clown" who performed with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey from 1925 to 1987. He came to be known as one of the greatest circus clowns in the world through his innovative comic routines, compassion for others and strong dedication to his work. He truly earned his status as a legend among clowns with his constant contributions to his craft and continued presence after his retirement. Through laughter and strong character he taught major life lessons of compassion, love and kindness.

Born Jacob Ludwig in Wesermude, Bremerhaven, Germany in 1903, Jacobs' first job in show business was as the rear end of an alligator costume with his brother when he was seven. He saw his first clown act at the age of 11 and joined a small German circus as a clown that same year. He excelled as an acrobat and balancer. “As a boy in Germany” he recalled, “I learned it all. Barrel jumping, acrobatics, making like the human pretzel." It was training which would stand him in good stead. By the time he was 15 he was appearing in a double contortion act with his partner/straight man Michael Morris.

Upon emigrating to America through Ellis Island in 1923, it was as a contortionist that he first found work appearing at fairs and in vaudeville. "I was working with an old man and his son. I was the straight man, but I persuaded them to let me do comedy."

While performing for a year with the Morris and Morris Circus in 1924 he came to the attention of the Greatest Show on Earth and joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus 1925 where he remained for virtually all of his professional career.

There, together with fellow circus comics like Otto Griebling, Paul Jung, Emmett Kelly and Felix Adler, Jacobs would form an elite group of circus clowns. While readily acknowledging the grueling nature of those early years under the Big Top, Jacobs recalled those early years of clowning: "It was a good life. We had sunshine in the backyard. We washed our own clothes. We would have baseball teams. We lived to clown."

Seen on many Ringling posters over the years, Jacobs' clown character is instantly recognizable with his high arched eyebrows, elongated cone head with tufts of red hair and his large oversized mouth; his classic makeup became the prototype for the 20th century Auguste clown in the American circus and in the 1940s served to inspire the look of Capitol Records’ mascot, Bozo the Clown.

Jacobs was a “Producing Clown”, writing, building props and creating his own original repertoire of classic gags: He zipped around the hippodrome track (the area on the arena floor that surrounds the three rings) on water skis; zoomed past amazed spectators in a motorized bathtub; chased down a cigar-smoking clown "infant" who was attempting to make a getaway in a baby-buggy turned hot rod.

In 1944, Lou Jacobs began work what would become his most famous prop. He constructed a 2-by-3 foot, fully operational miniture car. Using skills honed over his lifetime, he contorted his 6-foot-1-inch body to fit inside the contours of the rattling, backfiring tiny automobile. He introduced the car at Ringling’s premier during “spec” (a lavish production number) at Madison Square Garden in 1946 only to have it sputter to a stop. He labored tirelessly for another two years before a reliable version of the prop could be reintroduced with the assistance of George Wallenda, mechanical expert of the Flying Wallendas. By the 1948 season Lou had perfected the car and the routine (originally performed with partners Jimmy Armstrong and Frankie Saluto) that would bring him lasting fame and that he would continue to perform for the rest of his career.

His labored emergence from the automobile -- heralded by the appearance of his oversized red and white clown shoe jutting into the air -- never failed to amaze and amuse.

Jacobs was also known for working with his dogs and partnered for 14 seasons with his chihuahua, Knucklehead, presenting an adaption of his friend Charlie Bell’s classic Hunting Gag. When Knucklehead passed away Lou was heartbroken but eventually taught the gag to another chihuahua named Pee-Wee who worked with him for the rest of his years on Ringling.

In 1952, Jacobs (and his tiny car act) was prominently featured in Cecil B. De Mille's Academy Award winning film The Greatest Show on Earth. Jacobs was selected to tutor Jimmy Stewart in clowning (they perform the car act together in the film) and he and Stewart became good friends.

In 1953 Lou Jacobs married Jean Rockwell, a former circus performer. Both of their daughters became renowned circus stars in their own right. Lou Ann, her husband George and their children present one of the world’s greatest African elephant acts and Dolly has won many awards and international acclaim as an aerialist. She and her husband Pedro Reis created Circus Sarasota, a beautiful show headquartered in Sarasota, FL.

Lou Jacobs has been seen on millions of posters, t-shirts and other circus memorabilia but his greatest distinction came in 1966 when his clown likeness was selected to appear on a United States postage stamp commemorating the American circus. Lou Jacobs is the first (and to date, only) the only American citizen to be so honored during their lifetime.

Lou Jacobs was awarded the title of “Master Clown” by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, one of only four clowns in the circus’ long history to earn the distinguished title.

Advancing age and failing health forced Lou Jacobs to officially retired from the Greatest Show on Earth in 1987 but he continued to teach at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, where he was a founding professor, sharing his vast knowledge of the intricacies of his craft with the next generation of clowns from 1968 through 1991. He was, by all accounts, the college's most revered faculty member for all of the twenty-three years he taught there.

Lou Jacobs teaching at Clown College (with an assist from Bob Momyer, Assistant Dean
in 1976 and '77) demonstrating the Spider Gag at the Ringling Winter Quarters arena in Venice, FL

Lou’s students had the opportunity to show their appreciation for him at the 20th anniversary reunion of Clown College. As Jacobs walked haltingly on stage to perform, 500 alumni rose to their feet of one accord, chanting in unison, "Lou! Lou! Lou!" acknowledging the man they had come to revere as both a teacher and clown.

In the last decade of his life, Jacobs was the recipient of the highest accolades the dual worlds of Circus and Clowning have to offer. In 1987, Producer Kenneth Feld presented Jacobs with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1988, Jacobs' star was unveiled in Sarasota's Circus Ring Of Fame. And in 1989, Jacobs was inducted into the Circus Hall Of Fame in Peru, Indiana, and the Clown Hall Of Fame in Delavan, Wisconsin -- one of only six clowns to be honored in that Hall's inaugural year. Several of Jacobs' fellow inductees, sadly deceased by the time of their recognition, were those same clown friends with whom he had once appeared under the Big Top. "It looks like I'm the Last Of The Mohicans," Jacobs commented.

Jacobs was a tangible link with the rich clowning tradition of the past, which is the very soul of circus comedy. Toward the end Jacobs' spirit remained indomitable. "I've had good times and bad times. It may seem like a rough day today, but tomorrow may be a good day, and the sun may be shining in the next town."

Jacobs died on Sunday, September 13, 1992 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida of heart failure. He was 89 years old.

" In 1987, on the 20th Anniversary of Clown College, Lou Jacobs walked out onto a small stage and 500 Clowns leapt to their feet. It was a spontaneous outpouring of love, warmth, friendship and respect for a man who had been their teacher and friend.

I remember the applause and cheers, which grew more urgent, more fervent and more heartfelt. Lou was their mentor and this was their chance to return Lou’s friendship—their opportunity to give of themselves, as Lou had given to them—with the same generosity of spirit that had graced every word and deed of Lou, himself. For so many years, Lou Jacobs had given his time, his talent, and his heart to his fellow performers, to each child in the audience, and to every student who passed through the doors of Clown College.

I cannot separate Lou from the memory of that October night in which we all understood what it meant to be a Clown.

We cannot define magic. We can only sense when we are in its presence. Lou Jacobs was magic. And it is our blessing that a spark of that magic -- a spark of Lou's generous spirit -- lives on in every life he ever touched, and every performance of the Greatest Show on Earth"

-- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus owner, Kenneth Feld

"There will never be another clown like Lou Jacobs. He has embodied the very essence of the word for so long that he has actually molded its meaning. Probably no other entertainer in history has caused more people to laugh in live performances."

-- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus owner, Irvin Feld

"The Circus greatest clown ever."

-- performer Red Skelton

In the future, Circus lovers will be able to open a book and look at paintings of Lou Jacobs, Master Clown. They’ll look at photographs of Lou, watch movies of Lou, and see hours of video. They’ll even be able to collect a postage stamp of Lou. But those of us who worked with him, those of us who learned from him and those of us who had loved him… we were the lucky ones. We had Lou.

-Allen Bloom

Lou Jacobs was not only a Master Clown, but he was also a master human being. When I first met Lou, I was a nineteen-year-old, wet-behind-the ears kid. But he treated me with the same respect and dignity that he gave to all living creatures. He was patient and kind and giving. It is said that "Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profundity. Kindness in giving creates love." Lou created a lot of love and a lot of laughter. To me, he was a shining beacon who was willing and eager to show us the way. The art of clowning has, like a torch, been passed down through the ages. That torch never burned brighter than when it was held in those beautiful big hands of Lou Jacobs. And that torch is brilliant still, fueled by the love in the hearts of every life his life touched. I truly believe that some people come into our lives and quickly go; while others, like Lou, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.

-Director of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, Steve Smith

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

JANUARY 13, 1994


NAME: Olivia Rocco Antoinette Paris
DOB: 12/28/08
TOB: 11:18 pm
WEIGHT: 8lb.2oz.
LENGTH: 19 1/4 inches
PARENTS: Rocco & Yumi Paris
BROTHERS: Maxwell (10), Oscar (9), Alex (5)
SISTER: Grace (23 months)

It only took Yumi 2 pushes to get her out. All the kids were there and watch their sister come into the world. I thought that was cool. They thought it was gross. Olivia is doing great and Grace acts like a little mommy to her. That's about all I can think of. 

Take care, 


Follow the three Rs:

Respect for self

Respect for others 

Responsibility for all your actions


My friends Steve Combs and Ryan Copeland (giggle giggle, see what I did there?), seen above in their brand new Trick and Tara Kelly yak hair wigs have a big announcement that they are going to make very, very soon.

No, it is not that their "hillbilly mountain marriage" is officially recognized as legal in Massachusetts and Hawaii.

I'm not able to divulge any secrets at this time but know that a very big announcement is pending!



Am I alone in thinking that that I wouldn't feel so personally betrayed by Steve Martin (a man with a sizable personal fortune who isn't taking this type of work because he needs the money) for starring in drek like The Pink Panther 2 if he was using that income to finance a series of small, independent comedies of some style, substance or worth?

Certainly Steve Martin is free to take whatever job he likes, and spend the money he earns any way that he pleases, but something like The Pink Panther 2 is so unnecessary, so beneath him and his considerable talents, that it only becomes excusable in my mind if he's using that money to fund something truly important and vital.

My respect for Mr. Martin would rise to the level it enjoyed prior to the release of say, Sgt. Bilko were to find that his salary for that film financed 10 seasons of Sesame Street, the restoration of the films of Buster Keaton, brokered a lasting peace between Yankees and Red Sox fans with the rest being the huge donation that instantly solved any and all problems for Romanian war orphans so that they all live happily ever after.

Because, after seeing the trailer for The Pink Panther 2, anything less makes me want to see him run him over by a dump truck full of funny being driven by Peter Sellers.

Am I alone in that? Is it just me? 

If it is, you can tell me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

BRANDON "DOOBY" FOSTER: News from the Red Show

I hope that the holidays treated you and your family great. Now that winter quarters is over I wanted to fill you in on some exciting news.

First of all, the whiteface circus clown is not dead in the Ringling alleys. Trish, a first of may this year, was specifically asked by Kenneth and Nicole to be a whiteface clown in the alley and she looks adorable. Just wait until you see the pictures!

I have to tell you, after taking pictures this year, the red alley looks great! While only a few of us wear wigs, the make-ups are great, and the costumes this year are amazing!

And the most exciting news I have to share, is that the clowns have a total of 7 spots in the show! We have 3 gag spots, 1 chase, 2 transitions, and of course blow-off!

I cannot wait until you can come out and see it for yourself!

All the best!


I'm looking forward to seeing the Red Show this year. My 10th wedding anniversary is coming up this April so it just may finally be time to take Shane to see the circus at the Garden and see where Mommy and Daddy tied the knot.

HAPPY KELLAMS: Arte Bausman Remembers

Photos and comments courtesy of Arte Bausman...

Hey Pat,

So glad you caught that it's Hap Kellems with Chick and Ole'. I noticed it when it was posted, but didn't get a chance to write before the change.

Happy Kellems and Lillian were dear friends. They were the God parents of my daughter. I met Happy and Lillian in 1970 at Guntown Mountain in Cave City, Ky. They were performing in the Yellow Dog Saloon and I was hired as a magician and gunfighter.

In 1972, Happy told me of an opening at Santa Claus Land theme park in Indiana. I worked with the Kellems' there until 1980, when we both moved on.

I've attached some photos from Santa Claus Land...

Arte, Santa and Happy

Gene Smith and Happy. Gene was a tap dancing magician.
His motto was "feats of hand and feats of feet".

A flyer for Hap and Lil's comedy show at the Showboat theater

Arte Bausman
Dayton, OH


"The practice of morality - which mean guarding your three doors of body, speech, and mind - from indulging in unwholesome activities, equips you with mindfulness and conscientiousness. Therefore, morality is the foundation of the Buddhist path."

ELMO GIBB: Gibsonton Showmen's Circus, 1/10/09

Photo courtesy of Buckles' blog and Ben Williams

My friend Dean "Elmo Gibb" Chambers and his comedy dog act wowing 'em in Gibtown!


The clown in this photo turns up in MANY photos in the teens and twenties.
I now believe that his name may be Charlie Smith.

He looks a lot like Owen "Duffy" McQuade, a Ringling clown from the late 50s/early 60s.

This photo was used over and over, season after season, by many shows in the early part of the last century.
These clowns look to me to be Spader Johnson, Pat Valdo, unknown and Charlie Smith

VAS & STAS: Serenade; Ringling Gold Unit, 11/28/08

Is the word I'm looking for... "Jigalovian"? Is that it?


One of my very favorite clowns in the whole wide world, Mr. Tomas Kubinek.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Photo courtesy Mitch Freddes via Mr. Henry Barragan

Manuel Marcos "Zapata" Barragan Jr. and Johnny Peers in the mid 1970s at the height of their fame as the one of the most beloved and respected comedy duos in the American circus of that period.

Zapata, lamentably, passed away very, very young. Johnny continued on in circus and today his Muttville Comix are arguably the very best comedy dog act in the country.


"Be kind whenever possible.

It is always possible."

KOOKY: The World's Greatest Clown

Stretch-me-silly. Stretch to 8 Feet Tall Instantly - The funniest movie is here. Find it

Mickey "Kooky" O'Connor, "The World's Greatest Clown", has an instructional DVD available at his website. Just click the title of this post to be taken there.

DICK CAVETT: A Better Sort of Insult

Link suggested by Mark Evanier's blog NEWS FROM ME

Please click the title of this post to be taken to Dick Cavett's recent New York Times piece on the Art of the Insult.

EQUIVOKEE: Magic Gag, Circus Nock

From the Ukraine here is Equivokee, as seen on Circus Nock.