One thing that is true both of baseball and the performing arts is that just when you think you have seen it all something else comes along to fool you. Early last week I was introduced on Facebook to Puddles the Clown and his website PuddlesPityParty.com. In reality Puddles is a 6'8" singer and performance artist out of Atlanta named Mike Geier who performs as "Big Mike Geier."
The video embedded here is of him doing a cover version of Lorde's "Royals" both of which I had been unaware of until I became aware of Puddles as well. As my young friend Lucas Murray would say "it's a well constructed song." And Geier sings the living Hell out of it.
The imagery is striking. Here's a big man in white face portraying a melancholy clown singing a song written by a woman. He silently comes on stage carrying a suitcase and a lantern giving off a vibe of homelessness and searching. As I've gotten interested in this act, I've noticed that Geier typically starts a performance by staring at the audience with no expression on his face at all a la Andy Kaufman. If Andy Kaufman were built like a lineman and dressed as a Pierrot. At about 3 minutes (I've timed him) you start to hear nervous laughter from the audience.
And then he just starts singing. The video here has him silent for about 30 seconds before he gets going.
One of the most striking things about Geier is that he reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman in that both are big men and yet so graceful. As you watch the video take notice of the gestures and the changes of expression. I watched it 5 times in a row the other day and caught something different every time.
And the expressions. Is Puddles angry? Euphoric? Psychotic? Depressed? Hubris infected? Overly in touch with his fem side? Gay? Straight? Dunno. Maybe yes to all. The expressions change with every measure. Which leads me to the next point.
Geier isn't just screwing around (I resisted the word "clowning") up there. This character is the product of a lot of thought rehearsal and discipline. And Geier isn't stupid. This video has gotten over 8,000,000 views. Geier's got as nice a baritone voice as I've heard lately. But Bryn Terful he is not. And Mike Geier doing grrl music isn't going to get 8,000,000 hits.
A Bunyanesque man in whiteface with a nice voice and a crown just might.
Is Puddles a gimmick? Of course it is. But unlike Kiss, Gwar, Insane Clown Posse, and even Parliament, this is a benign gimmick in service of the music. And Geier, in creating this semi-menacing character, has achieved what every performer wants. After all, you can't not watch as that beautiful voice comes out of that, that thing. My friend S was over the other night. Clowns scare her and she couldn't take her eyes off him.
This is pretty crazy. But it's inspired crazy.
And if the brain trust behind the Batman movies is reading this I've got another candidate to play the Joker.
Oh, and check out the video on You Tube where they cover Lorde's "Team." Watch for the saxophone player.
Like I said, this is pretty crazy. But it's inspired crazy.