Saturday, February 27, 2010

SHEMP HOWARD: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I'm going to guess that Shemp was posing for a gag photo as Father Time... because any other explanation is worse. Much worse.

DAVID AND CHERIE GREGG: East Tennessee Children's Hospital (2/22/10)

Friends David and Cherie Gregg once again dispelling the old wives' tale that circus makeup and costumes can NEVER be used in a hospital setting. It depends completely and entirely on the individual performer, their skill set and their ability to adapt their performance to their audience.


With a guest appearance by Oleg Popov, from the film Carnival.

Friday, February 26, 2010


An interesting article that brings up many important points.

After re-reading it, I realized that it resonated with me for another, entirely different reason. If you remove the word "black" or "African-American" and replace it with the word "clown" it also pretty accurately sums up the frustration many of us feeling trying to gain a deeper understanding of American clowns and clowning, outside the deification of five or six Ringling performers from "The Golden Age of The Greatest Show on Earth"...

Taking Black History Out Of The Peanut Gallery

by Sam Sanders
February 26, 2010

At the beginning of February this year, I posted the following status on my Facebook page:

“Tomorrow begins Black History Month. I'm hoping not to end those 28 days armed with only a new set of Negro spiritual lyrics and a strange belief that I, too, can make anything out of peanuts.”

I was referring to George Washington Carver, one of so many Black pioneers whose face is perpetually plastered on cardboard cutouts in classrooms throughout the country every February.

I remember hearing the stories in grade school. George Washington Carver, the guy who invented a lot of things out of peanuts. Over 300, actually, with concoctions like peanut glue, peanut grease, peanut coffee and peanut meat tenderizer.

That was pretty much all that was said about him.

His story, and those of so many other Black historical figures, are done a disservice every February. That's why Black History Month annoys me — not just because it seems to be in no way focused on any kind of Black future, but because its historical coverage is one-dimensional, mawkish, and well, boring.

And at the end of this month, and the same old show, I'm still annoyed.

I want more than sainthood every February. I want complexity.

We need a better Black History Month, one that recounts the intricacies of the lives our ancestors lived, their human flaws, something that made them a little bit more — relatable. Or better yet, something that would help us believe we could aspire to their greatness. Because now, based on what I hear every February, the only way to make Black history is to be completely perfect — and rather uninteresting.

It would have been nice to have a discussion in my youth about how George Washington Carver’'s fervent belief in God ostracized him from many in the scientific community he became a leader in.

I would have loved to learn earlier that legendary Black soul singer Nina Simone wasn’t just an amazing voice, but was also someone who grappled with bipolar disorder for much of her life.

And I really would have liked someone to tell me that Martin Luther King Jr. got a D in French at Morehouse. Because I almost failed Spanish. Twice. In high school.

But the stories so many children hear February after February make Black folks of yesteryear nothing more than well-dressed, smiling, saintly caricatures.

I want more than that.

I want to know who was crazy. Who could never keep their mouth shut. I want to know who had the biggest ego, who made the funniest practical jokes. I want to know what gossip blogs would have speculated about Malcolm and Stokely and Bayard back in the day.

I want our Black History to be as intricate, and multi-faceted and many-splendored as our Black present. I want someone in my Black History to be extremely socially awkward, to spit when they talk every once in a while, to be too loud in public settings on occasion.

I want more than sainthood every February. I want complexity.

I think it’s doable. Revealing the multiplicity of our Black ancestors’ history won’t make us weaker as a race, or give some anonymous opponent something to exploit. Representing our truest past will only help make us our truest future selves.

Of course, I’m now too old to blame anyone for my incomplete knowledge of this Black History I long for. One can only point a finger at elementary school teachers for so long, if at all.

This heavy lifting is up to me, and “us,” whatever that “us” might be. And others already know this. In response to that Facebook status update, one of my friends, Paul, had the following to say:

“Make your own history, Sam!”

He was right. The best stories aren’t recited. They’re discovered.

MA & PA KETTLE: Another Math Gag

BALDER CLOWNS: Restaurant Entree


Thursday, February 25, 2010


Visit Adam Gertsacov's Flickr slideshow at...


Video suggested by Jango Edwards

A working/training session led by the Italian clowns "The Colombaioni Brothers" with a group of Swedish actors, taken from a 20 minute black and white special produced by Swedish TV and directed by Marianne Ahrne.

ABBOTT & COSTELLO: 7 x 13 (with Shemp Howard)

Link suggested by Jeffrey Potts


OLD SPICE: The Making of "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like"

Leo LaPorte interviews Craig Allen and Eric Kallman of Wieden & Kennedy to find out how Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" was made.

Ringling would be REALLY smart to involve Jonathan Lee Iverson in some type of parody of this by the time the show hits New York.

Monday, February 22, 2010


A schmaltzy jazz guitarist playing in a local restaurant on Thursday night doesn't detract from Django Reinhart.

The inept drunk singing karaoke in the hotel bar doesn't change how you feel about the Rolling Stones.

Your brother's video of his kids at Christmas doesn't make Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless any less of a film.

Your grandmother's paint-by-numbers lovingly framed in her back room doesn't diminish Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, Van Gogh's The Potato Eaters or Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Marat.

So why is it that when people see this... means that all clowns are amateurish and incompetent?

LAUREL & HARDY: The Dark Knight

MARCO CAROLEI: 4th International Circus Festival of Budapest (2002)


...and why isn't anyone else doing it???