ClownAlley is Back! : Interview with B & B’s Clown Alley from 1908

I’m happy to say that ClownAlley, the late Pat Cashin’s excellent blog about the history of clowns and circuses, is back.  (It’s not currently at, but at it’s original place

I have always been a big supporter of that blog, which has had some amazing photos and articles about circus clowns past and present. Friend of Pat’s  Beth Grimes (who is a clown and board member of the Clown Hall of Fame) has taken over as the lead blogger, and they are soliciting on a limited basis other bloggers to help out.

One of her recent posts is fantastic– it’s a compilation of a series of interviews with the 36 Alley members of the 1908 edition of the Greatest Show On Earth.  Great historical stuff, and well worth reading.

An Interview With The 1908 Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley

Here’s an excerpt:


Foolish Ford

It is caused by the unusual experience of being interviewed.  All the merry quips and cranks which people ordinarily associate the genus Clown are gone.  They sit on the extreme edges of their chairs and wait for each other to speak.  When one ventures, after explanatory cough, the rest admire and envy his eloquence and self-possession.

     “If we’d only known about it two days ago,” one of them confesses, “we’d had a chance to think up something to say.  Lord, lady, we’ve got stories enough.  Some of us’s been more’n forty years in the clowning business.  But you can’t think of stories right off the bat, begging your pardon, this way.”
Then they introduce themselves and each other.
     “Lady, I’m the policeman, the jockey and the ballet girl.”

“I’m the man with the long rope and the short dog.  My! But I thought he’d bite my ankles today, exposed as they be.”
     “I’m the one whose feet flap the most.”
     “I’m Foolish Ford.  In my contract it says that I can come and go ad lib.”
     “I call myself the most absurd, ridiculous individual in the world, abounding in the melody, mirth and madness.  Then when people say I’m so bad I’m good I don’t have to make apologies.  I just point to my explanation that’s written in the posters.”
     “I’m the man that’s got a sort of cousin on Park Row who gets all his funny ideas from me.”
     Others content themselves with merely saying names, Austin Walsh, Arthur Borella, Fred Egener, Stanley, Baker, Gerome, Bennack, Ackley, Clemens.

I’m so glad that she is continuing the important historical work that Pat had so expertly done.  You should definitely put this blog on your must read list.

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