Saturday, January 09, 2010

STEVEN BANKS: Home Entertainment Center (1989)


From Wikipedia

Steven Banks (born November 27) is an American musician, comedian, actor, mime and writer of television, plays, books and cartoons, including SpongeBob SquarePants.

Banks attended Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. Shortly after that (during his honeymoon), he met fellow clown college alumnus Penn Jillette and began a lifelong friendship with the future magician. Both shared a fascination with punk and classic rock and roll music, yet both men eschewed drugs and alcohol. The two also shared a love for comedy.


In 1987 Banks landed his first acting role, performing as a minor character in the fantasy-comedy Date with an Angel.

Banks hit it big when he developed (and starred in) a one-man theatrical show titled Home Entertainment Center – a comedic play about an easily-distracted procrastinator trying to meet a work deadline. He gave 440 performances of Home Entertainment Center at venues like the Canon Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Marine's Memorial Theater, and The One Act in San Francisco (where the show ran for eleven months). For his performances, he was awarded the LA Weekly Theater Award, four Drama-Logue Awards, and three San Francisco Bay Area Critic's Awards. He also performed at the Aspen Comedy festival, the Cast Theater, Callboard Theater, and Las Palmas Theater.

In 1989 Home Entertainment Center achieved national fame when it was filmed and aired on Showtime; the filming was done at the Marine's Memorial Theater. The show featured original songs written and performed by Banks. On May 14 of 1989, he appeared (with Penn) on the Dr. Demento radio program (that year's Mother's Day Special) and performed a number of his songs live on-air.

The ensuing fame landed him a tv pilot on Showtime in January 1991 – The Steven Banks Show (sometimes inaccurately referenced as The Steven Brooks Show). The plot of the show was much the same as his one-act play: Banks portrayed Steven Brooks – an underachieving, chronic procrastinator fascinated by trivia and cursed with a penchant for comedic songs.

In the summer of 1991 after Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens was arrested for allegedly masturbating in an adult movie theater, Banks was among a number of entertainers who protested the decision of CBS to drop Reubens' show from their lineup. Banks can be seen in a crowd of protestors on an LA street in the E! True Hollywood Story episode about Reubens' arrest. Reubens was later offered (and declined) a supporting role on Banks' fledgling TV program.

Showtime aired the pilot for Banks' show, but never ran any other episodes. In 1994, PBS took an interest in his act. They filmed and aired The Steven Banks Show that summer – the first original sitcom ever produced and run by PBS. Brandon Tartikoff produced the show, filmed at WYES in New Orleans. A CD album for the show was also released, consisting of original songs written and performed by Steven Banks. 13 shows were shot and the program garnered critical acclaim, but one episode "Miss Janie Regrets" was not aired due to controversy over a PBS-like children's show parody. Banks' show has attained a kind of cult status despite its short run on PBS.

However, that same year, Banks landed a bit roll in Beverly Hills Cop III. By the late 90s, Banks was making guest appearances on various TV shows, including Dharma & Greg, King of the Hill, and Dream On. He also appeared in Caroline in the City.

Steven Banks performed a set of songs at the 2004 B.O.R.E.D. Tour on the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA.

Banks most recently performed as "Billy the Mime" in the 2005 comedic documentary "The Aristocrats" which was uncoincidentally co-created by his good friend Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza.


In 1998 Banks began writing for Nickelodeon's animated series CatDog. He wrote several CatDog books as well. He continued working for Nickelodeon, penning several SpongeBob books (including The Big Halloween Scare which actually charted on the New York Times bestseller list). In 2002 Banks was named head writer for The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and in 2004 he was nominated for one of the 56th Annual Writers Guild Awards for the episode Rescue Jet Fusion.

In 2004 he wrote for Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi – an animated series from the Cartoon Network about the adventures of real life J-pop music stars Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura.

In late 2004 he became story editor for the hit show "SpongeBob SquarePants" and has worked on the show for five seasons and continues as head writer for season eight.

Banks and friend Penn Jillette also collaborated in writing Love Tapes – an unconventional love story for the stage which premiered February 2005 at Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood.

Banks's novel (King of the Creeps) was published by [Knopf] in 2006.

He wrote the book and additional lyrics for "SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical!" opening May 2007.

He was nominated for an Emmy in 2008 for the SpongeBob episode he wrote "The Two Faces of Squidward"

In 2009 he collaborated with the dance company Pilobolus on a full-evening piece "Shadowland" opening in Madrid.

Friday, January 08, 2010


MYSTERY CLOWN: Billy Smarts Circus

Toast. This morning I had toast.



Big Apple Circus - Bello Nock, Barry Lubin
Ringling Red - Alan Digweed, Clown Alley
Ringling Blue - Clown Alley
Ringling Gold - The Caveagna Family
Circus Sarasota - Al Calienes
Cirquesa - Tom Dougherty
Circus Vargas - Jon Weiss and "Matti"
Hamid Shrine Circus - Greg and Karen DeSanto, Pat Cashin, more TBA
Kelly-Miller - Ryan Combs, Steve Copeland
Shrine Circus, Springfield MA - Barry Lubin
Yankee Doodle - Pat Cashin
New Cole Bros. Circus - Bermudez Triangle/Cassalino Clown Alley
Showfolks Circus - The "Congress of Clowns" All-Star Clown Alley

If anyone else knows "Who is Where" on other shows, please share!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

CLOWN ALLEY: Ringling (Oct 1969)

Photos courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center

Prince Paul

Mark Anthony

Bobby Kay and Coco with Ladybird Johnson

SASCHA: Contrabase


Probably the best promotional video that I've ever seen for a clown doing fair shows. Mr. Thumond really knows his market and expertly tailored this video specifically for its total domination.

Nice job!


The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. You are free to disagree that their reverence for the material and its message combined with their "irreverent" presentation constitutes a very subtle form of highly educational clowning...

Symphony of Science

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Symphony of Science is a music project created by Washington-based electronic musician John Boswell. The project seeks to "spread scientific knowledge and philosophy through musical remixes." Boswell uses pitch corrected audio and video samples from television programs featuring popular scientists and educators. The audio and video clips are mixed into digital mashups and scored with Boswell's original compositions. Two of Boswell's music videos, "A Glorious Dawn" and "We are All Connected", feature appearances from Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Stephen Hawking. The audio and video is sampled from popular science television shows including Cosmos, The Universe, The Eyes of Nye, The Elegant Universe, and Stephen Hawking's Universe.

Unruly Media, a viral video tracking service, first charted "A Glorious Dawn" on September 21, 2009. A month later, the video had received more than a million views and was ranked in the music category on YouTube as one of the top rated videos of all time. On November 9, 2009, Third Man Records released a 7-inch single of "A Glorious Dawn" for the 75th anniversary of the birth of Carl Sagan.

John Boswell

Composer John Boswell had been experimenting with sampling and remixing for some time before creating his first YouTube videos. Boswell had worked with Auto-Tune in the past and thought people might be interested in hearing American astronomer Carl Sagan sing. He first saw Cosmos in 2004 and soon after bought the set of DVD's. Boswell looked through these episodes for "profound quotes" that lacked music in the background. Once he found these quotes, Boswell Auto-Tuned Sagan's voice and picked from the best ones. After completing what became "A Glorious Dawn", Boswell posted the video on YouTube in September 2009, thinking he might get a few thousand views at most. Surprisingly, the video went viral within a week.[1][2] To date, the video has received more than two million views and is ranked as one of the top rated videos of all time in the music category.[3]

John Boswell attended Gonzaga Preparatory School[2] and graduated from college with a degree in economics. Soon after, Boswell started Colorpulse, an electronica music project, and began to focus on production.[4] Boswell lives in Bellingham, Washington.[2] His current music project, Symphony of Science, "aims to spread scientific knowledge and philosophy through musical remixes"[5] and to "deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form".[6]

Music and video

A Glorious Dawn

Boswell's first video in the Symphony of Science series is 3 minutes, 34 seconds long and features Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. Samples include clips from Cosmos (1980) and Stephen Hawking's Universe (1997).[6] On September 21, 2009, Unruly Media, a viral video tracking service, began to chart the popularity of the video.[7] At the end of the first week of October, the video had received 800,000 views,[2] and by the end of the month, more than a million. By the end of 2009, the video had surpassed 2 million views.

The title takes its name from the chorus spoken by Carl Sagan, remixed from an episode of Cosmos:

A still more glorious dawn awaits
Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise
A morning filled with 400 billion suns
The rising of the milky way[6]

Third Man Records released a 7-inch recording of "A Glorious Dawn" on November 9, 2009, in honor of the 75th anniversary of the birth of Carl Sagan.[8] The one-sided single was created by United Record Pressing in a unique "Cosmos Colored Vinyl", limited pressing of 150 copies; it was then re-pressed on regular vinyl in a larger run. The flipside is etched with a copy of the diagram found on the Voyager Golden Record.[8]

We are All Connected

The second video in the series is 4 minutes, 12 seconds in length and features Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye. Audio and video samples are taken from The History Channel's Universe series, Carl Sagan's Cosmos, interviews with Richard Feynman in 1983, Neil deGrasse Tyson's cosmic sermon, and Bill Nye's The Eyes of Nye series. Additional visuals come from NOVA's The Elegant Universe, Stephen Hawking's Universe, and Cosmos, among others.

The title comes from the chorus spoken by Neil deGrasse Tyson and remixed by Boswell:

We are all connected
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically[6]

Our Place in the Cosmos

The third video in the series is 4 minutes, 21 seconds in length and was released on November 23, 2009. "Our Place in the Cosmos" features Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Michio Kaku and Robert Jastrow. Samples were taken from Cosmos, Genius of Charles Darwin, a TED talk, Stephen Hawking's Universe, interviews and visuals from Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi, History Channel's Universe series, and Cosmic Voyage.

The title comes from words spoken by Carl Sagan and remixed by Boswell:

The exploration of the cosmos
Is a voyage of self discovery
As long as there have been humans
We have searched for our place in the cosmos

The Unbroken Thread

The fourth video in the series is 4 minutes in length and was released on January 6, 2010. "The Unbroken Thread" is themed around biology and evolution rather than the cosmos, and features Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and Jane Goodall.

The video uses clips from Cosmos, several David Attenborough documentaries (Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, The Life of Mammals, The Living Planet, BBC Life), XVIVO Scientific Animations, IMAX Cosmic Voyage, Jane Goodall's TED Talk, and a Guinness commercial.

The title comes Sagan's Cosmos, and features in the refrain:

The secrets of evolution
Are time and death
There's an unbroken thread that stretches
From those first cells to us


Musician Carrie Brownstein found the idea behind Symphony of Science "quite beautiful and amazing in both its sincerity and aims". She also enjoyed the "hip-hop stylings" of the camera angle on Bill Nye while he is moving his hands around and expressing himself on "We Are All Connected".[9] Writer Nick Sagan, son of Carl Sagan, was impressed with "A Glorious Dawn", giving it a favorable review and stamp of approval. Sagan writes: "John Boswell over at Colorpulse Music is a mad genius, sampling both Cosmos and Stephen Hawking's Universe series into three minutes and thirty-four seconds of pure, concentrated awesomeness...Love it, love it, love it. Dad would have loved it, too."[10]

Columnist Franklin Harris argues that Boswell's videos show that science can arouse the minds of artists just as much as religion and mythology have in the past. Harris calls the videos "art for the Information Age, inspired by science".[11]

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part.

- Miguel de Cervantes

CLOWN ALLEY: Ringling Red Unit (1979)

Photos courtesy of Gigi Paul and Jeri Cannon

Cowboy Mike Keever, Gigi Paul, Chuck Sidlow, Jeri Cannon

Garry O. Irvingwhite, in performance and in Central Park with Jeri

Chuck Sidlow, on the train and in the ring (as the ref, in black pants)

CLOWN ALLEY: Free Ringling Ticket

Photo courtesy of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center

Clockwise -Jim Howle, Duane Thorpe, Frosty Little, Billy Ward, Bobby Kaye, Mike Brown, Keith Carey, Eric Braun.


SACHA: The Photographer

THE BLUE TIE GUYS: Andrew Scarff and Bryan Fulton

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

ERNIE "BLINKO" BURCH: Auguste Makeup

Photo courtesy of Mark Newgarden


"We talk about theatre museums filled with old costumes and things. What we also need is a theatre museum of the old routines on videotape. We are only the custodians of those techniques, and they should be preserved."

Jim Dale

JEFF "GORDOON" GORDON: Ringling Red Unit (1979)

Photos courtesy of Gigi Paul and Jeri Cannon

Le Clown Gordoon out of makeup, riding the train

Gordoon's "Ballantinian" whiteface, before his iconic character emerged.

HEY YA BROTHERS: Joel Jeske & Christopher Lueck

SAGID ALI DESTA: Comedy Plate Spinning Act


The Abbotts of Unreason (Joe Dieffenbacher, Mark Renfrow and Bob Scheile) were all graduates from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College Class of '83.

They were a huge hit at festivals and clubs in the USA, combining strong comic characters with circus skills and slapstick. For more info, please visit

Monday, January 04, 2010


Congratulations go out to the new Vice-President of Showfolks of Sarasota, Mr. Yankee Doodle Circus himself... Mike Naughton.

To the best of my knowledge Mike is only the second Clown College graduate (after the late Dale Longmire) to hold elected office in the organization.


Just wanted to let people know there are three spots still open for the leather clown nose making workshop this January 5th and 7th at 7 PM. If you would like to participate let me know tonight as I will be buying tools tomorrow morning.

Have a great and healthy 2010

Want to make your own Custom Fitted Leather Clown Nose?


FROM 7:00 PM TO ABOUT 9:30-10:00 PM

"I just want to give a plug for Stanley's leather clown noses. I bought one twenty-two years ago and it's still in good shape. I used it a lot in performance the first ten years and still use it in rehearsal. It has
such a distinct (and comfortable) feel when I wear it, that I'm ready
to play as soon as I put it on (Pavlov's fool)."
Drew Richardson January 5, 2007

One great thing about the leather clown nose is they do not sweat like rubber or latex, you can breathe and they have a much more natural look than rubber. From what clowns have reported to me their leather clown noses have lasted on an average of 8 to 10 years. Ooops it is longer - Drew Richardson's nose is going on 22 years.

Clown Nose Workshop

Finished Leather Clown Noses: Ariane Anthony, Golan Reinitz, Jeff Seal, Lynn Berg andPat Cashin

How to make your own leather clown noses?
Making well over 100 custom clown noses for clowns in the New York area and around the world, Stanley will teach a two-day workshop...

In the class you will learn how to:

  • Choose leather for your nose
  • Prepare the leather
  • Mold leather into your clown nose
  • Sharpen the knife blade. (Very important, you cannot cut leather with a dull knife).
  • Fit the clown nose
  • Cut the clown nose
  • Punch the clown nose holes under your nostrils so you can breathe
  • Paint and finish your clown nose...(You can custom color your nose, any color you wish)
  • Prepare and fit the elastic and string

FROM 7:00 PM TO ABOUT 9:30-10:00 PM

Class size is limited

Price: $100 for the class
Tool and material fee: $89 (you get to keep the 7 tools)
Total: $189.

To reserve your spot you must pay the full fee in advance by October 29, 2009, because I need to buy the tools and supplies in advance. (Will accept 50% deposit from those people with financial needs. Now accepting credit card payments in advance with Google Checkout).

To sign up or find out more info Contact Stanley Allan Sherman
or call 212-243-4039
Mask Arts Home Page

YOGI BAIRD: Violinist/Contortionist


Sunday, January 03, 2010

SLIVERS OAKLEY: New York Times, March 9, 1916

Scan courtesy of Melanie Carty

HIGH NOTE: Chuck Jones, dir. (1960)

High Note is a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated short directed by Chuck Jones. It was originally released on December 3rd, 1960 and is performed without dialog, relying solely on the animation and music to carry the plot.


Why do I like clowns so much? Why are they so powerful to children? Probably because they are dangerous. That kind of danger is really what it’s all about. It’s that kind of stuff that I think gets you through life. Those are the only things worth expressing, in some ways: danger and presenting subversive subject matter in a fun way."

Tim Burton