LITERARY CLOWN FOOLERY: clowns meet books

Fri Feb 11 11, Booksmith

(Maureen Blennerhassett)

On the second Friday of each month, the Booksmith opens its doors to a pack of well-read clowns.  Let me clarify: the juggling, red-nosed, oversized shoe-wearing clowns; not to be confused with your childhood notions of overly giddy men with curly wigs and rainbow-striped pants who squirt water out of lapel flowers, sending cake-filled children screaming in different directions.

Despite the kitschy costumes, these clowns were young (mostly women), witty, and funny! Their monthly act features a parody of the hot book of the month. This month’s chosen text was Amy Chua’s The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir of an Alpha mom extreme who believes in “toughening” her brood to perfection. So much so that one of her daughters left teeth marks on the piano after an especially grueling practice. This book is an instant conversation piece. Which is why Thomas John pounced on the opportunity to mimic it with a performance titled “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Juggler.”

Of course, the evening wasn’t all bookish. Tristan Cunningham performed two skits. First, a violent maid in a fight with her feather duster. Then, Mrs. Gretchen, a dating expert desperate to get some.

Polina Smith was ringmistress Edward Finacchii Smichdt, an intellectual oddity privy to conspiracies, cover-ups, distractions, and bad Latin. Sir Edward was very charming; when asked by an audience member to comment on the protests in Egypt, he replied, “Its all just a cover-up actually, for us not to pay attention to what’s happening in the American government. It’s actually a ploy … all things that you see on television are protests that were recorded in 1763.”

Cathy Diebold played the Ruckus Muckus, an endangered creature with the hots for a big blue exercise ball.

Mahsa led the beat feet orchestra—a staple of Circus Finelli.

Audrey Spinazola performed some original songs on the ukulele between acts.

If you’re into a light hearted, interactive fix on current events, go to The Booksmith every second Friday at 8pm. The featured entertainers are individual performers, mostly graduates from the Clown Conservatory. They come together for this event but can also be found independently among San Francisco’s circus arts troupes.

Also, there’s always something going on at The Booksmith. Stop clownin’ around and check out their events calendar.