Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ringling 1993: Big Bike

Ringmaster Eric Michael Gillett, Boss Clown Dave DeDera as the old lady, and cyclists Darren Cooper, Max Richardson, Ray LeClair, David Frank, and Zac Whinnem performing the big bike routine on the Ringling Red Unit in 1993.

This was during David Larible's tenure as headliner on the Red Unit, so this was the Alley's one big ring spot for the tour.
As a kid I remember being disappointed that there wasn't more of the Alley clowns in the show, although between Come In gags, track gags, and walkarounds, they were doing more that the clowns got to do in the final decade or so of the show's run before the "closing" in 2017.

This act was on the Blue and Red Units in 2000-2001 and 2011-2012 respectively, but done by Eastern European acrobats. 
It is my understanding that the clowns in this act suffered many injuries from the apparatus, which is not surprising. That thing is a beast! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

In Remembrance: Leon "Buttons" McBryde

Leon McBryde passed away today. Many people know him best as Buttons, a clown who got his start in the business by graduating from the Ringling Clown College in 1969.
After spending a year on the Blue Unit, he toured ahead of the Greatest Show on Earth as a Goodwill Ambassador. 

His true legacy to clowns will be his work in clown education as a founder of the program Advanced Studies, of which he is a founding member, and also as a top clown nose maker. Leon and his wife Linda created the company Proknows, which sold all kind of clown supplies, most notably a fantastic array of clown noses that the majority of clowns in America have worn.

Throughout his career Leon performed as Santa, which became his main source of performing in his later years. 
He is an inductee of both the International Clown Hall of Fame and the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, and was a loved and respected practitioner in both fields.

Above is a video of Leon and Michael "Coco" Polakovs taken at Advanced Studies in the 1990s.
What I have written is just a brief glimpse into Leon's long, full life. Please feel free to add more information, stories, or thoughts in the comments below. 

Friday, June 07, 2024

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Jan Damm: Circus Flora

Here is Jan Damm, who just finished touring with the new Ringling show, performing in the 2023 Circus Flora production, 'Undercover'.

From the New England Center for Circus Arts website: 
"Jan Damm began performing juggling shows for kids in central Maine when he was 12 years old. Since then he has toured nationally and around the world as a professional clown and circus artist. Highlights include headlining the production show on Celebrity Cruises ‘Silhouette’, Montreal’s ‘Festival Completement Cirque’ with ‘Midnight Circus’, playing Broadway with ‘Cirque Mechanics’, ‘Big Apple Circus’ 40th Anniversary Tour, and performance intervention work in Haiti and Lebanon with ‘Clowns Without Borders’. He’s also appeared on David Letterman, and with Circus Bella, Circus Zoppe, Flynn Creek Circus, and Circus Flora among others. Jan has a passion for coaching and creation, and has worked as an instructor throughout the country, including coaching featured acts on Smirkus Big Top Tour. He lives with his wife and circus partner Ariele, and their children Timo and Ilsa."

Friday, May 10, 2024

Clown College Makeup Class


Photo courtesy of Steve Marshall

Here are some of the students of the Ringling Clown College class of 1983 painting their faces in makeup class. 
Note the photos of previous graduates on the wall that the new students could study for inspiration in coming up with their unique clown face.
This photo was taken by Steve Marshall, who was a graduate of the class of 1983, and toured with the show's Red and Gold Units. He currently performs as a magician in Japan.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Mr Lorenz

Mr Lorenz aka Lorenzo Carnevale performing at the 45th International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo in 2023.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Give Back Sunday: Benefitting the ICHOF

Mark your calendars for this Give Back Sunday event on June 23rd, benefiting the International Clown Hall of Fame. This is an all day event dedicated to fundraising for the cause.

The International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center is a not-for profit 501 (c) 3 organization located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Since they opened their doors to the public they have had thousands of guests visit in person and view the most amazing collection of clown artifacts in the world.
Learn more about them at:  International Clown Hall of Fame
10% of our 06/23 brewery sales plus direct donations taken at the bar will be donated. The International Clown Hall of Fame will be selling some awesome memorabilia you won't want to miss out on. 
We hope you can come out and show your support for the local community!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Happy Birthday, Bill Irwin

 Happy 74th birthday to one of the absolute best, Mr. Bill Irwin.

Birthday Greetings by Jason & Justin Senft
Photo: Mark Seliger

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Nick & Squid: Movie Act

From Nick: 

NiCK & SQUiD are a clown duo currently based out of Dallas, TX USA. Previous employers include but are not limited to: "Lone Star Circus", "Circus Espana" and the historic Italian circus "Circo Peppino Medini". NiCK & SQUiD's style of clowning is a mix of Theatre and Circus. By implementing strong visual elements, storytelling, humor and audience participation their content can be easily understood by various cultures around the world. Nick is a second generation circus clown and when he found Squid in 2015 he instantly fell in love with her!

Friday, March 29, 2024

In Memorium: Aaron Daniel Tucker

Aaron Tucker graduated from the Ringling Clown College in 1988. Here he is in the graduation performance with Eric Zander performing their lumberjack gag. 

Clown College 1988 Lumberjack Gag

Aaron performed on the Ringling Blue Unit in 1989 and then the Red Unit in 1990. Here he is performing a cowboy gag on the Blue Unit in 1989 with Kevin Thompson.

Ringling 1989 Cowboy Gag

Post Ringling Aaron studied with Avner Eisenberg, aka Avner the Eccentric and also Aitor Basauri of Spymonkey, and he was frequently involved with The Celebration Barn in Maine.

Aaron also toured with Fabulous Problemas, a trio show that he co-wrote and performed with Amanda Huotari and Daniel Orrantia. 

The Fabulous Problemas

More recently Aaron performed all over Japan with the renowned Kinoshita Circus alongside many clown partners, most recently Jessi Hoffschildt and Randy Brake. Here he is performing on Kinoshita with Sean Hartman in 2002.

Kinoshita 2002 Ring Toss

Aaron Tucker passed away on April 2nd.

More information from Aaron’s longtime friend, Jay Stewart:

“Not mentioned here are that Tucker was a founding member of The Seaside Clowns in Myrtle Beach, SC, as well as a powerhouse member of The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, in Providence, RI.  And, it should be noted that Tucker was an accomplished musician, fronting his own band, The Sleepwalkers, as well as walking stilts all over New England for Bravo Brothers Entertainment.

Tucker showed that the word “Clown” is a big umbrella, covering a lot of disciplines, skills and outreach.

Rest in Peace, brother”

Please feel free to share your memories or photos of Aaron in the comments.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Cirque Du Soleil: "Best of Clowning"

Over an hour of Cirque Du Soleil clowning from the shows Totem, O, Luzia, Alegria, Saltimbanco, Volta, Kurios, Dralion, Kooza, Le Cirque Reinvente, Luzia, and Novelle Experience.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Clown College 1993: Edge and Trick

Edge (Edzui Szumowski) and Trick Kelly performing a Greg DeSanto directed gag in the 1993 Ringling Clown College graduation performance.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Tickey the Clown

"Tickey the clown was South Africas premier clown from 1960s onwards and become a household name in South African entertainment. He was named after the smallest coin in circulation, the tickey. He is seen here performing with his long time partner Lew Mitchem, circus performer and impresario."

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Los Pepín León Trio

The Spanish trio, Los Pepín León performing in the Cirque Achille Zavatta in Paris for the 1982/1983 season.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Rocco Paris Circus Circus

One of my favorite clowns, Rocco Paris, performing as his old man character at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, NV. I had the pleasure of seeing Rocco live last year when our tour stopped in Vegas, and watching him is a true master class in physical comedy.

Les Rossyan

Last but certainly not least, it is a thrill to be sharing the bill with Yann Rossi, the white clown from the wonderful musical clown family, Les Rossyan, seen here at the 1997 International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo.

Fumagalli and Darius

I am also excited to share the bill at Monte Carlo with the great Fumagalli and his brother, Darius, here performing my favorite of his entrées on Italian television in 2014.

Petit Gougou and Eddy Sosman

I am very excited to get to work with Petit Gougou here in Monte Carlo as he assumes the role of Mr. Loyal, the ringmaster of the festival. 
Here he and his partner Eddy Sosman perform an excellent plate entreé on Circus Knie in 1988. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Monday, January 01, 2024

Happy Lou Year 2024

What better way to ring in the new year than with the man whose face is synonymous with the word "clown" AND who was born on January 1st one hundred and twenty-one years ago!

My Lou Year's resolution is to start regularly posting on this blog again. It was a busy year for me: being a single father, pulling triple duty as clown, publicity director, and social media manager for Cirque Italia's Paranormal Cirque II (as well as running influencer outreach for all five of the company's units). I am currently in Offenburg, Germany performing with my partner, Ryan Combs, in Zirkus Charles Knie's Offenburger Weihnachtscircus, AND we are preparing to appear in the upcoming International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo!

Ok, enough complaining and shameless self promotion. Stay tuned for a long overdue tribute to the late, great clown, Gaston Häni, and plenty more clowny goodness in the year to come.

Have a great 2024, everyone!