Book Reviews

Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx and Rowland Barber

Harpo Speaks! an autobiography of Harpo Marx

Harpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx and Rowland BarberHarpo Speaks! by Harpo Marx, Rowland Barber, Susan Marx (Photographer), Bill Marx (Photographer)

Review of Harpo Speaks:

Buy from Amazon.com Frankly, Harpo Speaks is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s hilarious, serious, witty, poignant and thought-provoking, sometimes all at the same time. It details what it was like to grow up in the Marx household, how all of the brothers were pushed into show business by their mother, Minnie, how hard they worked for so many years at (barely) subsistence wages, how they entertained each other, grew up on the road, and in one night changed from a singing group to the first great ‘screwball’ comedy team. If you love clowns, or are interested in clowning, you want to read this book; it’s a wonderful insight into clowning, what’s funny and why, as well as some of the Marx Brothers’ classic routines. It’s also a wonderful insight into a man I would have loved to have known; Harpo Marx. (more…)

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Emmett Kelly - greatest clown on Earth book

Emmett Kelly: The Greatest Clown on Earth

Emmett Kelly: The Greatest Clown on Earth (Notable Missourians)

Buy from Amazon.comIn the early 1900s, the circus was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in America, and one of the most popular circus acts was the clown. White-faced clowns in bright costumes made adults and children laugh with their silly antics. When the Great Depression caused many Americans to lose their jobs, Emmett Kelly decided to be a different type of clown a sad-faced clown who reminded people of their struggles, but still made them laugh. (more…)

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Comic Ministry Routines, by Randy Christensen

Comic Ministry Routines

Christian skits –  Comic Ministry Routines, by Randy Christensen

Comic Ministry Routines, by Randy ChristensenFirst, it needs to be pointed out that this is a short book (41 pages, 5.5″ x 8.5″), with a lot of information packed into a small package. It contains a lot of good clown skits, both silent and speaking, for multiple clowns, as you can see for yourself in the  Table of Contents below. It’s a very well-written and well-rounded collection of skits (16 total). If you’re looking for a nice, inexpensive collection of clown skits suitable for use in church, youth group, etc. I recommend the book. (more…)

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Tall Tales of a Short Clown, by Barry Lubin

Tall Tales of a Short Clown

Editorial review of Tall Tales of a Short Clown, courtesy of Amazon.com

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Tall Tales of a Short Clown, by Barry LubinTall Tales of a Short Clown is the story of Barry Lubin, whose alter ego, Grandma, became one of the most successful clowns in American history, and was named “The World’s Funniest Grandma” in Germany. Barry has entertained well over a hundred million people in circus rings, stadiums, arenas, on stage, in festivals, in films, and on television as the funny little carpetbagger with a mischievous view of the world. (more…)

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Clowns: In conversation with modern masters

Clowns: In conversation with modern masters

Clowns: In conversation with modern mastersClowns: In conversation with modern masters, by Ezra LeBank (Editor), David Bridel (Editor)

Editorial review of  Clowns: In conversation with modern masters, courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com Clowns: In Conversation with Modern Masters is a groundbreaking collection of conversations with 20 of the greatest clowns on earth. In discussion with clown aficionados Ezra LeBank and David Bridel, these legends of comedy reveal the origins, inspirations, techniques, and philosophies that underpin their remarkable odysseys. Featuring incomparable artists, including Slava Polunin, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Oleg Popov, Dimitri, Nola Rae, and many more, Clowns is a unique and definitive study on the art of clowning. (more…)

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The Clown in You, by Caroline Dream

The Clown in You

The Clown in You, by Caroline DreamThe Clown in You, by Caroline Dream – editorial review courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com THE CLOWN IN YOU is a clowning manual for students, teachers and practitioners. It contains all kinds of valuable clown knowledge; both practical and theoretical. Within its pages readers will find all the basic principles of clowning, first-hand clowning experiences, tried and tested clown games and exercises, quotes from interviews Caroline held with professional clowns, examples of clown improvisations, and explanations of the clown philosophy underlying all the comic techniques used by clowns. The book thus provides an unprecedented insight into the heart of clowning and throws a fresh light on all the skills, audacity and dedication needed to encounter, encourage and set free one’s clown.

(more…)

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world-of-clowns

The World of Clowns

The World of Clowns, by George Spreight

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A wonderful book (now unfortunately out of print, but you should be able to find a copy in your library, used bookstore, or Amazon.com 🙂

It does not deal with make-up, costuming, skits, juggling, etc. It does deal with the history of clowning prior to the commedia del arté to the ‘present day’ of the 1950’s. If you’re looking for current information, you’ll have to look elsewhere, although it has a treasure trove of information from the heydey of the circus in the first half of the 20th century. (more…)

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The Buck Book, by Klutz Press

The Buck Book

The Buck Book: All Sorts of Things to Do With a Dollar Bill — Besides Spend It, by Anne Akers Johnson

The Buck Book, by Klutz Press

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I have a weakness for Klutz books — they seem to be universally easy to follow, fun, and fairly usable for clowning. This is a good example. In essence, The Buck Book is really just a glorified origami book; but a very good origami book, focusing on what can be folded from a dollar bill. As you can see in the illustration, it includes a ring, a ring with a dime as the ‘gem’, an elephant, a peacock, a jumping frog, and more.

Like all of the Klutz Press books, it’s well-written, clearly illustrated, with step-by-step instructions for making all of the creations. It even includes a dollar bill to start you with. (more…)

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The Hospital Clown a Closer Look: What Hospitals Need to Know About Clowns, What Clowns Need to Know About Hospitals

The Hospital Clown

book review – The Hospital Clown – A Closer Look
What Hospitals Need to Know About Clowns, What Clowns Need to Know About Hospitals
by Patty Wooten and Shobhana “Shobi” Schwebke

The Hospital Clown a Closer Look: What Hospitals Need to Know About Clowns, What Clowns Need to Know About Hospitals

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Perhaps you’ve heard about hospital clowns — these are the clowns who go into hospitals to spread cheer. But how do they start? What training do they need? Do they need certifications, or medical training? This book answers these and many more questions. (more…)

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The Gospel in Greasepaint

The Gospel in Greasepaint

The Gospel in Greasepaint by Mark D. Stucky

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Editorial Reviews:

The Gospel in GreasepaintThe author, Mark D. Stucky,  75017.3506@compuserve.com, said on 08/10/96:   More information on the book…   How are sermons like Brussels sprouts? What do clowns have to do with church? What is the greatest hardship inflicted on civilized people?   Find out in “The Gospel in Greasepaint!” For more information about the book, including a table of contents, see the book’s page on my web site:  http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/cyberwriter/tgig.htm (more…)

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