Monday, August 3, 2009

Shakes the Clown

Shakes the Clown is a 1992 American movie directed and written by Bobcat Goldthwait, who performs the title role. It also features Julie Brown, Blake Clark, Paul Dooley, Kathy Griffin, Florence Henderson, Tom Kenny, Adam Sandler, Scott Herriott, LaWanda Page, and a cameo by Robin Williams as Mime Jerry (using the pseudonym Marty Fromage).

The movie is a dark comedy about a birthday-party clown (Goldthwait) in the grip of depression and alcoholism. Different communities of clowns, mimes and other performers are depicted as clannish, rivalling subcultures obsessed with precedence and status. This was Goldthwait’s bitter satire of the dysfunctional standup comedy circuit he knew as a performer.

Critical and audience reaction to the movie was decidedly mixed: Leonard Maltin gave it his lowest rating, while the Boston Globe called it “the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies."

In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Goldthwait revealed that no less than Martin Scorsese had defended the movie from detractors. When a film critic derided the movie in order to make a point about good and bad movies, Scorsese revealed, "I like Shakes the Clown. Haven't you heard? It's the Citizen Kane of Alcoholic Clown Movies!."

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