true tales from the clown in charge

The Circus Freaks Blog


Remembering Julie Goell

Julie Goell

Goell always said that humor was “intrinsic to my survival,” and she maintained her sense of humor. Last week, Avner heard “gales of laughter” coming from the bedroom and went running to check on the situation. He found Goell and a caregiver laughing so hard, they were crying. Using her letter board, Goell managed to spell — painstakingly, one letter at a time, “Quick, Look behind you.”

Portland Press Herald

That was Julie Goell, who I was lucky to meet and have as one of my teachers. I came to know her only briefly, and only after a tragically unfair medical condition had robbed her of much of her ability to move and speak.

I'm told despite taking her life at the end, it never took her mind or her heart. The fighter in me is proud to know that.

At the time we connected, every word was clearly an exhausting and frustrating struggle.

She chose each one carefully, and for maximum effect. Despite it clearly taking a lot out of her, she took the time to have a one-on-one talk with each of the students in my class for critical notes about our work.

I don't remember which exercise we spoke about. What I will always remember vividly was our narrowing down to a specific moment she wanted to tell me about, and then I received exactly one sentence worth of commentary from the legendary Julie Goell:

"For that moment, you were not quite so full of shit."

It was hilarious. It was also the thing I needed to hear most.

For all of the teachers who have busted my chops about being too clever or hiding behind too much shtick, Julie was the first mentor to show me a moment where I was actually being real. For all the "No" I have heard about my work as a clown, Julie gave me my first "Yes" and in doing so showed me the path to follow to find more of them.

I'm still too clever, and sometimes I still hide, but I want to be as brave as Julie someday.


Less than a week until I start the #IdiotRoadTrip!

I’ll see you in the following cities on the following dates:

workshop schedule, with links to sign up:

Space is limited at all stops. Register now and let’s play!

A Juggling Feast!

This wacky passing pattern, and it’s variations, are known as feasts.

This was one of our first attempts at the ‘vanilla’ feast with five jugglers:

We’re working on the ‘chocolate’ and ‘strawberry’ variations next. 🙂

Jugglers: Russ Sharek, Alan Blakely, Avalon Woodard, Jonathan Rogers and Frank LeCoq

Circus Music!

Musical clown Marie Martin and I spent an evening in the recording studio with her trusty toy piano, creating a brand new version of the song we use for my “La Belle et la Bête” contact juggling performance.

Sadly you can’t see all the wonderful faces she makes when she sings this fairytale of love gone awry, but you can absolutely hear them:

I’m absolutely spoiled by the talent in my troupe.

Special thanks to The Kitchen Studios, HitRecord, and Peppina for making this possible.

A call for help with #clownspotting

I’m beginning work on some much needed clown PR, in hopes of getting a sane voice out there to offset some of the insanity that’s been in the news of late.

I’m starting locally, and I’d love to hear both publicly and privately from clowns in the DFW Metroplex*, specifically on productive ways we can do some good.

*and beyond, as amazingly that’s already happening.

If you are a clown, reach out now.

If you know a clown, please put them in touch with me.

If you’re a fan of clowns, help me start by posting some positive things on social media using the #clownspotting hashtag. We need a unified voice that shows the value of the work clowns do.

If you’re afraid or dislike clowns, I’m sorry you learned that lesson. I’m sorrier still if one of our ranks did something specifically to inspire that fear. If you’d like to talk about that, I’d be interested in hearing your perspective as well.

Please reshare this post. We need all the help we can get.


Conversation with Clowns

Turkish Coffee

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down for a pot of Turkish coffee with the host of the newly launched Avert Your Eyes podcast, Michael Gibson.

As tends to happen when you combine a clown, a journalist, and an ibric full of tasty caffeine, the result of our meeting was a fair bit of philosophical rambling with only a few naughty words tossed in for proper emphasis.

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