Clown Lecture: Herman Ootics, the Clown: An Idiosyncratic History of Circus Clowning (NY)

This lecture is produced in conjunction with a great circus exhibition that is happening at Bard College.  The exhibit is called Circus and the City: New York 1793-2010. The exhibit runs through February 3..

The lecture itself is given by Clownlink reader and friend, David Carylon, a former Ringling clown, a PHD in theatre/circus history, and the author of THE book about Dan Rice (the original Uncle Sam). Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of

The exhibit also has a catalog (pictured left) filled with photos, paintings, and lots of great essays: (Buy the book on Amazon) There will be another lecture on January 17 with the instigator of this project, Susan Weber, who is also the founder and director of the Bard Graduate Center, and the editor of the book )

Find out more about the exhibit:

Herman Ootics, the Clown: An Idiosyncratic History of Circus Clowning

Date: Thursday, January 10, 2013 

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Place: 38 West 86th Street

COST $20.00 Adult , $15.00 Students and Seniors

MORE INFO: 212.501.3011,


The whimsical

reference to hermeneutics in this program title is itself no whimsy. Instead, it introduces a challenge to cozy

david_caryloncultural narratives about “the clown.” The various and intrinsically related clichés—clown as kiddy favorite, sad clown, happy clown, scary clown, and that academic pet, the trickster—have little to do with the work of a

comedic performer. In this lecture, David Carlyon will dig into those faith-based clichés to examine how clown and culture influence each other.

David Carlyon was a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus clown, after the Army and Berkeley Law School and before acting in New York and acquiring a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. He has published scholarly work on performance, 19th-century culture and politics, and Shakespeare. He wrote the award-winning Dan Rice: The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of, and is on the Speakers Bureau of the New York Council for the Humanities.  Find out more at


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