Friday, June 11, 2010


In my never ending quest to lead new clowns away from the usual Tickles, Huggles, Giggles, Chuckles, Freckles and Sunshine and help clowns find that perfect, unique clown name, I submit the following:

1) Vidalia Onionbreath

2) "Nutty" Erna Squirrelturd (say it fast)

3) Derp Nerfowitz

Your welcome. Enjoy!

BOBO BARNETT: Whiteface (circa 1920)

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Barnett-Murphy

Bobo's early, Felix Adler-inspired whiteface.


Video courtesy of M Lane Talburt

CHARLIE CHAPLIN: Lost Film Discovered

Link courtesy of Jeff Taub


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

He's wearing a little moustache that would soon become world famous, carrying only a nightstick and the possibility of greatness.

It's Charlie Chaplin, making a cameo appearance in a Keystone comedy called A Thief Catcher in January 1914, just about a month after he started working at the Edendale, California, studio. It's the 36th film he made in a frantic year's activity before he left for more green, not to mention greener, pastures.

Until a few months ago, nobody knew it existed.

A Thief Catcher, released by the Mutual Film Corporation on February 19, 1914, was thought to be among the half of all silent films lost to history. The short actually stars Ford Sterling, Mack Swain and Edgar Kennedy. Chaplin appears for perhaps 2 minutes of the 10-minute film.

Finding a lost Chaplin appearance can be roughly compared to finding a lost Beethoven quartet, and you can hear many potent notes in his brief appearance. Following on the heels of a previously lost 1927 John Ford film, a Clara Bow film and others being discovered recently in New Zealand's film archives, the existence of A Thief Catcher proves yet again that amazing discoveries are still possible even after a hundred years.

The 16mm print was found by historian and collector Paul Gierucki at an antiques show in Michigan. Thinking it was just another old Keystone comedy, he didn't look at it for a while. He finally got around to it in early March and quickly realized what he had.

"Is this who I think it is?" he asked fellow collector Richard Roberts, sending along a frame grab. "Probably," said Roberts, "but we need to see him move."

Once you've seen him move, there's no question who the actor is.

Mabel's Strange Predicament, the first film in which Chaplin appeared in his famous makeup, started shooting January 6th, 1914 - a day after production began on A Thief Catcher.

"It's either his second moustache picture or his first," says Richard Roberts. "It cements the concept that he had the character before he came to Keystone and didn't slap it together on the way to the shooting stage one day. Even when he's doing a minor part he's doing that character. It's a new brick in the Chaplin biography. And this opens up the door to other unknown Chaplin appearances at Keystone."

Every few years, someone rushes to the press with news of a lost Chaplin film, which invariably turns out to be a familiar film with a different title. But A Thief Catcher is the real deal.

Chaplin wasn't a known commodity in February 1914, when the picture was released. That would come gradually over the next nine months as his starring comedies took the world by storm.

In later years, Chaplin did an unbilled cameo in a 1915 Essanay comedy entitled His Regeneration, as well as a surprise appearance as himself in King Vidor's 1928 feature Show People.

A Thief Catcher will be unveiled at Slapsticon, a film convention, on July 17th at 8:00 pm at the Spectrum Theater in Rosslyn, Va.

From Slapsticon...


In past years, the International Film Festival Slapsticon has prided itself on recovering and presenting lost comedy treasures, even discovering previously undocumented films featuring the Great Clowns of early cinema, rewriting film history books and filmographies. This year, at SLAPSTICON 2010, motion picture historians will be updating the filmography of the Greatest Comic of All, Charles Chaplin, as SLAPSTICON presents for the first time since it’s original release, Chaplin’s 36th Keystone short subject, a heretofore unknown appearance Chaplin made at Mack Sennett’s legendary Fun Factory in the same year and at the same studio in which he made his film debut.

Chaplin had recalled in his own autobiography that apart from his starring role Keystone Comedies, he had also played bit parts as a Keystone Kop in several pictures. Despite this information, the titles of these works remained elusive for over 90 years and no film prints have surfaced -- until now. SLAPSTICON 2010 proudly presents one of those previously thought lost Keystone comedies, A THIEF CATCHER, released by the Mutual Film Corporation on February 19, 1914. The short stars Ford Sterling, Mack Swain, Edgar Kennedy, and features Chaplin making an extended and very funny cameo as a policeman. The film was shot January 5th through January 26th, 1914, making it perhaps the second or third film Chaplin made at Keystone. The short was released following Chaplin’s third starring Keystone comedy MABEL'S STRANGE PREDICAMENT. Its importance as an early Chaplin appearance cannot be underestimated, and definitely adds another interesting chapter to Chaplin’s early film career.

The print of A THIEF CATCHER was discovered earlier this year by Film Historian / Preservationist Paul E. Gierucki, current head of restorations for CineMuseum LLC, and one of the"Godfathers" of a group of Comedy Film Historians known as the “Silent Comedy Mafia” who help to organize the yearly Slapsticon festivals.

A THIEF CATCHER will be part of a Chaplin Rarities Program at SLAPSTICON 2010 showing Saturday Evening, July 17th at 8:00 pm at the Spectrum Theater in Rosslyn, Va. Also featured in the Rarities program will be a newly recovered reel of Chaplin Outtakes from his Mutual Comedies, and a sparkling print of Chaplin’s Liberty War Loan propaganda short, THE BOND (1918) featuring outtakes from that film. These remarkable comedies are just a few of the rare treasures that will be screened in the four days of SLAPSTICON 2010, which runs Thursday through Sunday, July 15-18th at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater in Arlington, VA. For more information, a complete program schedule, registration and hotel information, go to


Link courtesy of Michael Karp

The 7 Ashtons learned their Risley act from their maternal cousins, the Warrens (AKA The Martinettis) who went to Europe in the 1930s and returned with the outbreak of World War II.

The Ashtons left Australia in 1946 and sailed to South Africa and Europe where they performed 10 times at the London Palladium and a Royal Command Performance.

They finally ended up in the America where they appeared in New York at the Latin Quarter. Managed by Sir Lew & Leslie Grade, they were rumored to be amongst the most highly paid variety performers of their time.

The comedian of the act is, of course, Dougie Ashton. When the act broke up Dougie was prominently featured for several seasons in the Clown Alley of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus where he was widely regarded as one of the very best circus comics of the mid 20th century.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ABBOTT & COSTELLO: The Friends of Abbott & Costello Cruise 2011!!!

The families of Bud & Lou are hosting the 2nd Abbott & Costello group cruise next year and it sounds fantastic...


Photo courtesy of Sue Lenz


Jackie Gleason, Professor Irwin Corey, Jayne Mansfield and Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim.


See what you can do when you take the whistle out of your mouth?

CLOWNZEN: Moshe Cohen and Roshi Egyoku (2007)

From Moshe Cohen's SACRED MISCHIEF

Conversations about Clown and Zen, Clown at the Zen Center

This conversation between Moshe Cohen and Roshi Egyoku took place during Cohen's six weeks (Jan-Feb 2007) as an artist in residence at the Zen center of Los Angeles. A few times a week, he would sit down for a half hour chat to examine the relationship of Clowning and Zen.

Moshe: What is the clown doing here?

Egyoku: I think it is a great question, and I think that it is a question that we should keep raising actually. For one thing, I think that is the first question that arises. What is he doing here? What place does he have here?

M: Some people are still a little skeptical…

E: Yes it just challenges, what should we be doing here? What is Zen? What is spirituality? What is it really? This is why we have to take it out of the clothes, and the words. This is where we have to trust that we can really make it our own.

M: I really find the creative side of life akin to all this, because that is where it comes from. It comes from letting go. This weekend, I was talking to my brother about a script he and his writing partner were writing (they are comedy screenwriters). His story was about how all week he couldn’t get around a problem in the script. This one part didn’t feel right, they felt stuck. E: that is part of the process…

M: That’s what you said in the koan class and I shared with him your thoughts about being stuck. You said “you get used to that. OK here I am in this stuck place and just be there, accept it. Just know that you are going to be there, and that it will pass. That it is just part of the process.”
E: Yes it is wonderful.

M: My brother said something very interesting. He said, “we were going with this fix to the script, and I knew in my gut that it was wrong. I knew and I was upset all week. I knew that I wasn’t going with my gut feeling.

E: And we keep canceling it out. We cancel it out.

M: I think as an artist that is what you do; you go with your gut.

E: Well life is a great artwork. It is a creation. We kind of think that it is happening to us. But actually we are creating it every moment. It’s all our creation, karmically and otherwise. When you start to step into that way of seeing things, it becomes a whole different now.

M: Art is Zen in that way, isn’t it? It demands letting go of the thought process. One becomes so deeply concentrated in the art that everything else dissolves. Which is why for me the practice of clown is akin to Zen.

E: Yes, it is just another way to reinforce that way of being, that way of complete embodied presence. From a Zen perspective we would look at it that way. We have our forms, but there are other forms that could really get us to…I mean look at how hard it is for us to be a pillar (referring to the Koan workshop)

Post conversation notes:
Indeed in the koan workshop, at one point, we went around the oblong circle of some 40 participants in the dharma hall, and different participants stood up and physically embodied being a pillar. The koan is “Hide yourself in a pillar”, or sometimes they say “show me a pillar”.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I've got to start cleaning out the Clown Closet since Jamie will be needing all the space in his room soon so...

Anyone interested in my Clown College "agent suit" (jacket, pants, vest, shirt and tie), Clown College "Bozo" wig and/or my Clown College coveralls, please contact me at

There is a laundry list of magic props that I'll post next week.


CLOWN ALLEY: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Red Unit (1979)

30 years ago, THIS is what circus clowning in America looked like.

DUET BLUES: Hat; Cirque Bouglione

ABBOTT & COSTELLO: Sandwich Bit; Keep 'Em Flying (1941)

TOM PICCARD: Circus World Audition (1982)

Video courtesy of Jerry Darkey

Tom Piccard on why in 1982 Circus World made all the clowns that worked there audition to keep their jobs:

"Pat__they wanted to get rid of some clowns__and they want to see who could and couldn't get a laugh__and there where some clowns trying to bring a union into CW and they want those clowns gone I think not sure__but my job was saved and I lasted till my brother died and I left to go to his funeral and never went back except to visit Bill Hamilton and the alley from time to time..I enjoyed working with all those people,many of them now work for Sea World and Disney now."

Monday, June 07, 2010


"Clown Theory" is an event of the soul and mind. There are no previous experience required, in fact the less you know the more freedom you will find. The stage is the least important place for the clowns spirit...Life is the grand stage with the greatest risk but grandest reward. To be clown means you must do one most important thing. Know who you are. You don't have to change but be honest to yourself and able to admit the truth to those who ask. This is the painful part but to have the right to reflect humanity one must see oneself first. In this class I'm not the teacher, I'm the doorman. I just open the have to walk through them. "Come on in!"


The art of the clown
is not just ...a profession, but a
lifestyle that demands an
understanding of emotion, sensitivity,
passion, pathos and heart.

27th, 28th, 29th and 30th (CLOWN THEORY -1ST LEVEL)
June 24th, 25th,
July 22th, 23th

From 5pm to 10pm
180€ each workshop

Contact to reserve place: Cristina
Place:AsociaciĆ³n Freedonia C/Lleialtat, 6
Bajos. Metro Paralel (L-2 and L-3))

MIKE BOURBON: Holly Pitchell Snapshots

Scans courtesy of Holly Pitchell

Hopefully, if enough of you ask nicely, Holly will favor us with some of her circus stories here.

PROFESSOR WACKO: International Circus Festival of Budapest (2010)


DUET BLUES: Microphone; Cirque Bouglione