Generally at A.C. Weekly we have a strict policy for our celebrity interviews. They are either done in person or, at the very least, over the phone. But when the opportunity to interview the most famous non-verbal clown in America — Puddles Pity Party — landed in our laps we were initially left scratching our heads as to how to go about conducting the interview.
Puddles, who comes to Harrah’s Resort 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, remains in utter silence at all times other than when he sings (which he does on a level unmatched by any clown since Pagliacci).
Taking songs from such unrelated artists as Ozzy Osbourne and Leonard Cohen and somehow making them completely his own is Puddles’ forte. While his silent-yet-singing shtick works beautifully onstage, in interview format it can prove tricky. We couldn’t reasonably ask him to sing each answer to us, despite how amusing that may have been. Luckily Puddles is an avid emailer, so we decided to forgo our policy just this once for Puddles, who was nice enough to offer us a full Q&A via the magic of technology — without ever uttering a word.
A.C. Weekly: What makes you so sad? I have heard you mention a broken heart before. Who or what broke your heart?
Puddles Pity Party: It’s a sad and beautiful world. I’m often moved to tears by all the sadness, but also by all the beauty. Even when things are going well for me, I’m painfully aware of the suffering that others may be facing. My heart hurts for them.
ACW: What type of songs are you most drawn to? How do you decide what to perform?
PPP: A song’s gotta have the feels. Sometimes they’re buried under a lot of production and fast tempos, but the feels are in there somewhere, and I like to bring them to the surface. Some songs are more challenging to interpret than others and can take me a while to crack. I’ve been working on a Led Zeppelin song for five years. I guess you could call it my “Moby Dick.” The song is titled “Moby Dick.”
ACW: Why is it OK for you to sing, but not to speak?
PPP: I believe it’s OK for anyone to sing, rather than speak. Imagine if everyone did that! A world where we express ourselves through song. Everyday stuff, like ordering a coffee, but doing so in song. What’s that old quote? Where words fail, music speaks!
ACW: Do you hang out with any other clowns? If so, what kind of activities do you do together?
PPP: I always enjoy the company of fellow clowns. I just ran into Bill Irwin the other night. We discussed— at great length — which coffee shop to go to, but by the time we decided on a place, they were all closed. So we just said goodnight and went our separate ways.
ACW: What do you think of circus clowns? Are they artists like yourself?
PPP: I love circus clowns. That’s what I want to be when I grow up.
ACW: What can fans expect from your live show in Atlantic City?
PPP: I’ve added some new tunes to the mix. And with all my shows, I try to provide a safe space for audience participation by way of sing-alongs, dance, camaraderie, coffee and snacks. And a very special, but secret, super celebrity appearance via satellite. Please don’t tell anyone. I want to keep it a surprise.