The wonders of the internet! I am always amazed at the simple things in life and how technology has enabled us to talk and record conversations and interviews with people all over the world. Today I was talking to and did a great interview with clown/teacher/author Joe Dieffenbacher who resides in Oxford, UK. His professional work as a clown spans over 3 decades and he has taught at some very prestigious schools as well. His new book “Clown ~ The Physical Comedian” is a great textbook for working on a clown show.
Jeff’s first experience as a clown had come as part of the Ringling show, but he felt much more comfortable in the intimate, one-ring European format of the Big Apple Circus. So, in 1983, he became a full-fledged member of the Big Apple Circus’s Clown Alley as “Gordoon,” a newly created clown persona. Mr. Stubbs, Gordoon, and Grandma would be, for the following five years, the iconic clown trio of the Big Apple Circus.
In 1989, in a quixotic attempt to run away from the circus and join a home, Jeff found himself on Broadway, playing The Dean in Bill Irwin’s Largely New York, a role he subsequently played on tour. By 1991-92, however, he was back at the Big Apple Circus, performing in Greetings from Coney Island and, 1992-93, Going Places, a show in which he was the lead character.
Jeff subsequently performed in Asia, appeared with Bill Irwin in the Seattle Rep’s production of Molière’s Scapin, and was for several years “Le Clown Gordoon” at the French Pavillion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center. He then moved to San Francisco, where he became involved with the successful Teatro ZinZanni. In 2000-01, Gordoon was again back at the Big Apple Circus, where he starred inClown Around Town with Tom Dougherty.
Jeff later participated in the Tianjin International Comedy Festival in China (2001) and toured with Circus Vidbel in 2004. He has worked extensively in Asia and the United States, and In 2007-2008, he was featured with Zany Umbrella Circus in Amman, at the Jordan’s Children Museum. In addition, Jeff has done many Artist-in-Residencies in the Pittsburgh area, where he now lives.
Thanks to Circopedia for this Bio of Jeff Gordon. A great resource for all things CIRCUS!
He recruited, trained and created clowns to perform with The Greatest Show on Earth.
Dick and Tiffany split their time between Dallas and New York. (Mostly Dallas!) Between bring up two children and performing in hospitals and other venues in Dallas they are quite busy!
I just finished doing a video interview with Dick Monday about the NY Goofs and it’s history.
While researching for this post I found a quote from Dick that I thought was great!
“Utilizing the power of laughter to uplift the spirits of humanity is a huge responsibility and one that historically has been left to the clown. As a clown, I gladly accept this challenge and will strive to parody the power and enlighten the people where ever and when ever it is called for. This is what I do for a living. I’m also good at Ping Pong.” – Dick Monday
This past month there was a wonderful show which actually happens every month. The New York Downtown Clown Revue. When most people think about ‘clowns’ they have this image pop into their head.
The American public has had almost no exposure to the true ‘european’ style clown. This Bozo image has been popularized by the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus and other American circus shows traveling the country for almost 100 years. Most graduates from the Ringling Brothers Clown College (no longer in existence) are required to wear a certain type of clown costume if they make it to the ranks of the Ringling Bros.& Barnum and Bailey Circus. The impression one gets is that this is either ‘family’ or ‘child’ entertainment. Unlike Europe where they have beautiful theatres devoted to serious ‘clown theatre’ where adults attend without the little ones in tow. There is a tradition of ‘types’ of clown which goes as far back as the greeks. Author/historian/professor John Towsen could tell you more about ‘history’ of clowns in his wonderful blog and his book CLOWNS. In this interview with the trio Le Fromage Royal all three participants talk about their influences on this ‘new’ old skit.