Joe Dieffenbacher

Joe DieffenbacherI’ve written about Joe Dieffenbacher before, but as it turns out, I’ve written mostly about projects he’s been involved with, or classes he’s been creating.  I’ve never written a post directly about him.  So It’s time.  It’s time.

When I met Joe, he was the janitor at the Dell’arte School.  He’d graduated a few years before, and was hanging around Blue Lake, soaking up the ambiance, using the facilities and resources after hours, and creating masks, characters, and shows.  Since that time, he’s become a master clown teacher, both for Dell’arte and then later at the Clown Conservatory in San Francisco, where he was the director from 2012-2015.  He lives in England with one of my Dell’arte classmates (Hi Minna!) where he creates masks, and tours shows all over the world.  He headlined the London Olympics show/celebration, and most recently I saw him in Chicago where he was touring as a character/clown for Just Dance Live.

 Here's a video I took of Joe juggling. To read the full review/post of the show
visit my post on Dadapalooza, my dad blog.

Joe Dieffenbacher has had a number of performance lives, including as a clown on Ringling, a Ren show performer (he traveled the Ren Fair circuit as part of the group the Abbots of UnReason), a street performer (Joe was one of the instigators of the legendary street/clown troupe Los Payasos Mendigos) and as I mentioned previously, he was featured in the Olympics celebration.

Joe Dieffenbacher Joe Dieffenbacher Joe Dieffenbacher

Joe Dieffenbacher


Above:  Four different characters that Joe Dieffenbacher plays in the introductions to his Youtube videos.


Joe recently wrote me to tell me that he’s been creating videos of some of the performers he’s taught and putting them up on his youtube channel. The first few that he’s been doing have been focusing on female clowns, but he’s also got Ninja clowns, a crazy cabaret, and a bunch of other topics.  I’ve taken a look at some of the work and it’s well worth watching.  He’s gotten some really inventive and creative work out of his students.
I also really like how Joe introduces each video as a completely different character.  It’s funny, and show off Joe in a very good way.  Here’s a sample of one of them.

I really like the videos, but I have two cavils, and one is easily correctible.

a) While the videos always have a credit screen after the show, telling us that Joe directed the show, and who helped him in the process, he doesn’t list the actual performers in the videos.  Joe, please fix this.  I want to know who they are, and what they are doing now!  Please link to them in the description!

b) Some of the videos feature soundtrack and sound effects, which actually detract from the clown and physical work.  The edited-in sound effects are distracting to watching the work itself.  It’s possible he did this to shore up work that wasn’t getting big audience laughs, but the sound effects being the star does not help.  [NOTE:  Joe wrote to me to say that he was shoring up bad camera angles or bad audio.  I completely understand where he is coming from– you want to present the best stuff possible, and here’s a way to do it.  At least on the pieces I watched, it didn’t quite work, and the piece became about the sound effect as much or more about the performance.  It’s a hard row to hoe. Joe. (sorry, I like that alliteration, yo. ]


Joe also has two books coming out in the next year or so.

Book one will be published by Nick Hern Books and will be entitled, Drama Games for Teaching Clowning and Physical Comedy. It will include discussions, games and exercises on the themes of Play, Curiosity, Competition, Collaboration, Provocation, Physical Expression, and Clown Solo, Duo, Trio, and Ensemble work.  (Nick Hern is currently not releasing new books due to COVID-19.  Not sure when Joe’s book will come out.

Book two will be published by Bloomsbury, with the working title, CLOWN, The Physical Comedian. This will be a much larger book and along with insights into Joe’s teaching process, games and exercises, it will include photos of clowns and physical comedy performers.  This book is slated for release in February 2021, and is already available for pre-order to Europe and the US on  (Not sure if it will be distributed in the states)


To find out more about Joe, visit his website

To see the videos mentioned above visit the Joe Dieffenbacher Youtube channel


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