Classy clowns: Festival elevates the red-nosed comedy performers

Funny amphibian: Performer Angela Delfini will skip the traditional white face and red nose in favor of a frog mask in her performance “Angela Delfini Explains It All For You,” playing as part of the New York Clown Theatre Festival.
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Send in the clowns!

Dozens of clowns will pratfall onto the stage of the Brick Theater for the seventh New York Clown Theatre Festival, starting on Sept. 3. The three-week event is sure to thrill fans of facepaint and red noses, and to horrify those who fear the giant-shoed circus performers. Fear of clowns is common, said the artistic director of the Williamsburg theater, but confronting a fear is the only way to get past it.

Coulrophobia is not to be taken lightly. It’s an epidemic, really. Well-meaning citizens walk into Stephen King movies every day and walk out with a life-long aversion to giant red-nosed Americans,” said Michael Gardner, who lives in Greenpoint. “This is why we launched the world-renowned biennial New York Clown Theatre Festival in 2006, to help combat clown-fear and clown misinformation. And to lend support to closeted clowns everywhere.”

The festival at the Metropolitan Avenue playhouse draws performers from all over the world — including India, Spain, and Poland — and features clown artists with skills beyond making balloon animals at a kid’s party, said Gardner.

“Clown Theatre artists, which is an art form distinct from circus clowns and birthday clowns, have a deep sense of community and support, and I always treasure that feeling of excitement that they instill in each other and in the audiences,” he said.

One of those artists will fly from her native Italy to perform “Angela Delfini Explains It All For You: A ¾-Woman Show” for three nights starting on Sept. 8.

Delfini says her comedic show, subtitled because of her diminuitive size, is about a recovery program designed by a mad scientist.

“It’s about how can we pass from depression to joy in five steps. This program is created by a crazy scientist — who is me,” she said.

Delfini’s three-quarter-woman show uses physical humor to convey her theme — which gives in more weight than just a red-nosed clown putting on silly tricks, she said.

“I talk about very important stuff — fall down and stand up again,” said Delfini. “My way to do clown is not the giant costume, just to live in the moment, especially when we improvise.”

The three-week festival has something for everyone, including a kid-friendly pie fight to kick off the fun on Sept. 3, and a mock funeral to bid farewell to its end, said Gardner.

“The free child-friendly indoor participatory pie fight is always a gas. And the obligatory closing ceremony of the Clown Funeral, in which we mourn the passing of another clown fest, is a necessary coda,” he said. “As we walk around Williamsburg with the recently bereaved, sometimes the casket gets accidentally dropped. But never more than 20 times.”

New York Clown Theatre Festival at the Brick [575 Metropolitan Ave. between Union and Lorimer streets in Williamsburg, (718) 907–6189,]. Sept. 3 –23, at various dates and times. $20.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, August 29, 2018
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