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Catharsis in Clown Makeup

Not all clowns can be seen in the big top or down in the sewers!

Performance Artist Puddles Pity Party  

I was laying in bed one afternoon, casually scrolling through YouTube on my phone. This was an activity I enjoyed frequently, especially during my junior year. I tend to stay on the home page, scanning to see if YouTube had recommended any quality entertainment to me. Once again, a video of a clown performing on America’s Got Talent (AGT) showed up. This hadn’t been the first time I’d seen it; the video often appeared in my feed, only for me to purposefully ignore the odd looking performance piece. For whatever reason, I eventually gave in and clicked on the video’s thumbnail.

As the video begins, a lumbering clown meanders on stage toward the microphone located center stage. He’s dressed in an all white, silky clown suit accented with black, frilly pom-poms as buttons, and black embroidery of the frills around the collar and the ankles. He wears a golden crown upon his bald head, his lips black, nose red, and four red dots decorate his cheeks and forehead. With him, he carries a briefcase that reads in bold, white letters: “Puddles Pity Party”. The audience is perplexed by the sight before them, and they are even more dumbfounded during the pre-performance interview by judge Mel B, where the clown named Puddles doesn’t utter a syllable. Through gesture and pantomime, the sad-clown informs Mel B that he’s going to be singing for them. Much to the surprise of everyone in the audience, this unknown clown performs a jaw-dropping rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier.” His voice fills the room with its sheer power accentuated by his facial expression and his gestures. The song comes to an end, the audience goes wild, and tears stream down Puddles’s face. He becomes an internet sensation.

I was amazed, and when the video ended I was in tears myself, moved by the passion in this performance and the incredible talent I had just witnessed. I needed more, and I was not disappointed. Puddles had his very own YouTube channel which had exploded thanks to AGT, and he had performed multiple times with another musical group called PostmodernJukebox with the likes of Haley Reinhart. Instantly I was obsessed, watching as many of his covers as possible, researching the man behind the face paint, reading comments, and searching to see if he was on Spotify, and lucky for me, he is. I simply could not get enough of this singing clown, and I wasn’t the only one.

WIth every song I listened to, I was continually impressed and intrigued. He also moved me emotionally. He allowed me to be open with my emotion; he acted as a catharsis that I didn’t know I needed. His videos were comforting, sometimes funny, and they were filled with so much expression. As I explored the comment sections on his videos, I found that I wasn’t the only person moved to tears by many of his beautiful performances.

The deeper I buried myself into the Puddles Pity Party YouTube channel, the more I began to question why he affected people so deeply. I made my cousin Makayla listen to his voice and she would weep every single time. What I’ve come to believe is that the character of Puddles encourages people to be more open with their emotions. He encourages people to feel. By being a ‘sad clown,’ he openly expresses his emotions 100%, making him radiate this surprising amount of comfort and honesty. Puddles creates this atmosphere that invites the listener to feel and release. I always feel happier after listening to Puddles belt classic and modern hits. Puddles may not be for everyone, but I’d highly recommend any to give him a try. Some of his covers I would recommend listening to are ‘Hallelujah," his AGT audition, and "Mad World" with Haley Reinhart. Puddles Pity Party can be found on YouTube, iTunes, and Spotify!