Puddles Pity Party Plays Santa Barbara

Singing Clown Brings Tragicomic Ballads to Lobero

Puddles Pity Party

Emily Butler

Puddles Pity Party

He’ll make you cry; he’ll make you laugh — he’s Puddles Pity Party, the singing sensation known as the “Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” who is set to play Sunday, October 21, at the Lobero Theatre. With his tragicomic baritone ballads, the white-faced wonder has touched the hearts of many with covers such as Lorde’s “Royals” and the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” Puddles has entertained on shows such as America’s Got Talent and YouTube’s Postmodern Jukebox with a compassionate kind of clownery, smilingly sorrowful. I recently emailed Puddles, asking his thoughts on his favorite songs, circuses, and universal moments of sadness and difficulty.

When did you first feel inspired to sing? My meemaw said I came into this world screaming and carrying on to the tune of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” So I guess you could say I was born this way.

What sort of songs hit you the hardest? What kind of songs make you feel the most? I’m a simple guy with simple tastes. Songs of brokenhearted love usually get me right in the ticker. As far as feeling the most, that would be marching band. Something about a marching band just lifts me up, with its celebrational spirit and the energy of all the players as they parade on down the street.

You remind in your art that we’re all in this together, in our moments of sadness and difficulty. Was there a moment in your creative career when that reminder struck you, when you felt it was your mission to communicate this? I think that it is more of a reality than a mission. I’m not big on giving advice or “should-ing.” It’s not my place to tell others what to do or how to feel. And there will be times in our lives when we are utterly alone or at our wits’ end. But it can be comforting to know that we’re not the only ones struggling. Even though we’re alone, we’re all alone together.

What makes you most sad? People not feeling free to express themselves creatively. I also get pretty bummed out at the end of the show. It’s hard to come down from so much camaraderie and love.

Conversely, what, these days, makes you most happy? Animal adoption and the perfect cortado with almond milk.

Who are some of your favorite clowns — historically, musically, otherwise? Oh, boy. So many. Jimmy Slonina, Mooky Cornish, Martin Short, Deanna Fleysher, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Pitofsky, Pee-wee Herman, David Shiner, Emmett Kelly, Bill Irwin, Amy Sedaris, John Gilkey, George Carl, Jef Johnson, Frank Ferrante, Dr. Brown, Christine Deaver, Shakes and Binky …

What are your thoughts on circuses? I love how a circus sounds and smells. I love the spectacle of colors and lights. It’s like … from another dimension. And I love that pretty much every circus features casts and crews from all over the world working together to create magic!

What’s something you love to do for fun? Cooking in moving vehicles. Today I’m making a red-lentil chili in an Instant Pot while Will drives us to Iowa City. It smells great in here!

How many roads must a clown walk down before you can call him a clown? The answer is blowin’ in the wind, but don’t be standing downwind of the clown who has just eaten a pot of red-lentil chili. While we’re on Dylan references, let me close with this one: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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Puddles Pity Party performs Sunday, October 21, 8 p.m., at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.). Call 963-0761 or see lobero.org.