Friday, March 06, 2009

IN MEMORIAM: Alberto Zoppe

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the entire Zoppe Family.

After meeting and working with many members of the family over the years I finally had the opportunity to meet Alberto last summer. He impressed me as both a complete gentleman and a consummate professional.


Happy (belated) 11th birthday to one of the coolest kids in the whole wide world,
Ms. Emily DeSanto!

TONY FOSSETT: Bounding Rope


"If the mind is dominated by hatred, the best part of the brain, which is used to judge right and wrong, does not function properly."

OLEG POPOV: In Rehearsal (1980s)


Links suggested by Mike Naughton

Shaw and Lee in their 1928 film debut, the Vitaphone one-reeler The Beau Brummels...

From IMDB...

Shaw and Lee, “The Beau Brummels”
(1928) American
B&W : One reel
Directed by (unknown)

Cast: (unknown)

The Vitaphone Corporation production; distributed by [?] Warner Brothers Pictures, Incorporated? / Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format. Western Electric Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system. / Vitaphone production number 2686. / Full-sound film.

[?] Performance

Survival Status: Print exists in the UCLA Film and Television Archive film archive [35mm preservation positive].

Keywords: Synchronized sound film

Vaudevillians Al Shaw and Sam Lee take to the stage in identical ill-fitting suits with bowlers and bow ties. Standing shoulder to shoulder facing the camera, they begin and end with comic songs; between the songs is a string of jokes and quips. The first song is a parody of "In the merry, merry month of May" and the concluding song is a song about a song. At the end, they throw in a bit of tap dancing. The camera doesn't move.

And in 1949 in Hollywood Varieties.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

CLOWN ALLEY: Al G. Barnes Circus (April 28, 1938)

Clowns Mike Garner and Shorty Morris with Teddy the dog and Bertha Metlock.


"One aspect of compassion is to respect others' rights and to respect others' views. That is the basis of reconciliation. The human spirit of reconciliation based on compassion is working deep down, whether the person really knows it or not. Our basic human nature is gentleness; therefore no matter how much we go through violence and other bad things, ultimately the proper solution is to return to human feeling and affection. So affection or compassion is not only a religious matter, but in our day-to-day life it is quite indispensable."



From the Wikipedia entry on "jester"...

In societies where freedom of speech was not recognized as a right, the court jester - precisely because anything he said was by definition "a jest" and "the uttering of a fool" - could speak frankly on controversial issues in a way in which anyone else would have been severely punished for, and monarchs understood the usefulness of having such a person at their side. Still, even the jester was not entirely immune from punishment, and he needed to walk a thin line and exercise careful judgment in how far he might go - which required him to be far from a "fool" in the modern sense.

Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no-one else would dare deliver. The best example of this is in 1340 when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. Phillippe VI's jester told him the English sailors: "Don't even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French."

The position of the Joker playing card, as a wild card which has no fixed place in the hierarchy of King, Queen, Knave etc. might be a remnant of this position of the court jester. This lack of any place in the hierarchy meant Kings could trust their councel more. They had no vested interest in any region, estate or church.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009



The time has come to start thinking about the 2009 "Felixes" the winners of which, it has been decided, will be announced on April 1st.

That gives us 11 days to accept nominations and 17 days for open voting in the following categories:

1) THE OTTO GRIEBLING AWARD for best solo clowning

2) THE JOE AND CHESTER SHERMAN AWARD for duo, trio and ensemble clowning

3) THE HARRY DANN AWARD for best picture clown

4) THE PAUL JUNG AWARD  for best gag

THE LOU JACOBS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD is not voted upon and is awarded at the discretion of the Jacobs family.

We have the kinks worked out of the online voting system but we have no better working system for accepting nominations other than to have folks post their nominations here in the comments of this and subsequent posts.


1) The CLOWNALLEY.NET AWARDS are given to American circus clowns or foreign circus clowns working in the United States of America between January 1st and December 31st, 2008.

2) American circus clowns performing abroad between January 1st and December 31st are eligible for a 2009 "Felix".

3) BOTH editions of the Big Apple Circus that appeared during the calendar year 2008 are eligible.

4) Ballots for the 2009 CLOWNALLEY.NET AWARDS will be tallied by the accounting department at Mformation Technologies of Edison, NJ.

Folks, start your nominating!


"On a daily basis, you must take more care of your mind than just money, money, money!"

RINGLING: 116th Edition Television Special (1986)

There is a long list of things that Kenneth Feld will never do again. I'm sure this is somewhere near the very top of that list...

RINGLING: Winter Quarters and Madison Square Garden (mid 1950s)

At :45 in you'll see our old friends Charlie Bell and Peanut.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

PAUL JUNG: San Francisco Examiner Photo (1961)


"It is our enemies who provide us with the challenge we need to develop the qualities of tolerance, patience, and compassion."


More information comes to light on the Lou Jacobs worshipping cults of the ancient world...

RINGLING: Madison Square Garden (Early 1960s)

Early post-tent show era Ringling in NYC. The clip starts with Jackie LeClaire at the elephant walk and ends with Coco doing the painters gag.

This film is labeled as being Ringling 1958 but I would dispute that. When I spoke with Coco he told me that he didn't start with Ringling until 1960 and performed the soap gag until 1965 when he took the Advance Clown job.

Monday, March 02, 2009

ADVANCED STUDIES: Advance Clowns (2008)

Photo courtesy of Ron Yarborough

Michael "Coco" Polakovs and Leon "Buttons" McBryde, two old friends and two of the best Advance Clowns in the history of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus together at Leon's Advanced Studies program in the summer of '08.


"To develop genuine devotion, you must know the meaning of teachings. The main emphasis in Buddhism is to transform the mind, and this transformation depends upon meditation. In order to meditate correctly, you must have knowledge."


SLIVERS OAKLEY : "In Dispute", New York Times Article (March 25, 1905)


Sunday, March 01, 2009

SLUMDOG MILLIONARE: It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

If you've seen the movie I'm sure that you'll agree, it's MUCH better this way!

HOUSCH MA HOUSCH: Congratulations!

Things have been a little hectic around here as of late and I missed a big piece of recent clown news so belated but hearty congratulations go out to Housch Ma Housch on his bronze clown at Monte Carlo!


"Let me explain what we mean by compassion. Usually, our concept of compassion or love refers to the feeling of closeness we have with our friends and loved ones. Sometimes compassion also carries a sense of pity. This is wrong--any love or compassion which entails looking down on the other is not genuine compassion. To be genuine, compassion must be based on respect for the other, and on the realization that others have the right to be happy and overcome suffering just as much as you. On this basis, since you can see that others are suffering, you develop a genuine sense of concern for them.

As for the closeness we feel toward our friends, this is usually more like attachment than compassion. Genuine compassion should be unbiased. If we only feel close to our friends, and not to our enemies, or to the countless people who are unknown to us personally and toward whom we are indifferent, then our compassion is only partial or biased.

Genuine compassion is based on the recognition that others have the right to happiness just like yourself, and therefore even your enemy is a human being with the same wish for happiness as you, and the same right to happiness as you. A sense of concern developed on this basis is what we call compassion; it extends to everyone, irrespective of whether the person's attitude toward you is hostile or friendly."


From Wikipedia...

The Dangerous Brothers was an early stage and TV act by anarchic comedy duo Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, performing respectively as "Richard Dangerous" and "Sir (or occasionally Lady) Adrian Dangerous". They appeared in a number of brief sketches in the 1980s TV programme Saturday Live.

The act was, in essence, a prototype of the career which the pair were to forge over the next twenty years in such shows as Mr Jolly Lives Next Door; Filthy, Rich and Catflap; and Bottom- two low-life loser perverts hitting each other in spectacular slapstick ways. It was arguably more hazardous than much of the material which was to follow in later incarnations - stage props in the brief run included a live (and very large, although apparently lethargic) crocodile, blank-firing submachine guns, and Edmondson apparently consuming Vim, a well-known UK brand of powder toilet cleaner. One of the early sketches went wrong when a stunt to set fire to Edmondson's trousers left him with serious burns - although much of this was left on the broadcast version.

Sketches include: 

World Of Danger (AKA The Towering Inferno)
Big Stunt
Torture - featuring Norman Lovett
Crocodile Snogging (which featured a live crocodile)
Flying Zebra
Exploding Politicians (in which Richard Dangerous attempts to become the 41st President of the United States of America)
How To Get Off With A Lady - featuring Edmondson's wife Jennifer Saunders
Babysitting - featuring Morwenna Banks as the wife.
Kinky Sex

The Dangerous Brothers were notorious for their unpredictable antics, once even interrupting The Flower Arranging Sketch being performed live by Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie, Fry & Laurie told The Dangerous Brothers they had been banned and they left only to return moments later disguised as The Ben Elton Brothers. One of the final sketches prepared for Saturday Live was entitled 'Kinky Sex'. This fell foul of Channel 4 censors who banned it. The duo responded by apparently hijacking the programme and blowing up the wall on which the show's logo was painted in graffiti art. The sketch, which by modern standards seems fairly tame, was finally released on a compilation video The Dangerous Brothers present: World of Danger.

Several Dangerous Brothers sketches are also included on the DVD compilation Saturday Live: The Best of Series One (2007).

LACHOUKOV-HERISSON: Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde