A Fool’s Idea: Inspirational Stories About Clowns, Vaudeville Comedians & Creative Performance Artists

A Fool’s Idea is a conversational documentary series, produced by Brian A. Bernhard, that pursues the fool in all his permutations. The project’s scope is vast, encompassing clowns from Cirque du Soleil to humble street artists, local and nomadic, to stand-up comedians and vaudeville legends; A Fool’s Idea asks more than what is a clown, but rather what is clown? How has clown, in the contemporary entertainment scene evolved from its origins in cultural rituals, and become more than a style of performance, but rather a state of the performer. This beloved character, clown, who makes the audience laugh and cry within a singular act, is the subject of much controversy. We adore him, we fear him, we remove ourselves from him, this fool. A Fool’s Idea has developed into the largest growing database of history and knowledge on physical comedy, performance, life, clown, and so much more. By taking the curious journey of the fool through — personal profiles on artists of all statures, long-form interview podcasts, and question-driven episodic content — audiences of A Fool’s Idea are invited to join a widely undocumented culture of clown and acquire their own understanding of it.

Above you will find an installment of “A Fool’s Idea – Presents” that features Summer Shapiro. An up-and-coming physical comedienne with an acute sense of the audience, and a striking ability to expose her own failures to create her brand of “clown-ish” entertainment, Summer smells the roses, tells us about her origins in performance, and shows off her beauteous gait in this touching story. However, as with any climb, we must overcome the resistance of gravity, and sometimes, the most challenging of obstacles offers the chance to discover our finest abilities. Summer, in her humble way, grapples with the reality of death and shares some details of her recent struggle to beat Lymphoma.

There is a wide variety of magic and wonder an audience may find when they agree to enter a theater space. A unique ritual takes place in these gatherings we willingly attend. And in these community gatherings, we inevitably have a personal experience unique to us. Tommy Twimble, a modern day vaudeville comedian from Portland, OR, is intrigued by this inevitability and plays his foolish antics before the audience in an effort to unify them. Although we are separated by our individual perspectives, Tommy understands that these temporal experiences are shared, and in the physical spectacle, in the magic he orchestrates, Tommy inspires us to “laugh together” and make greater the value of those intimate times we share. This profile piece from “A Fool’s Idea – Presents” explores why Mr. Thomas Schroyer believes it is important to do so, and wonders how the clown can serve the people and feed their laughter.

You can find A Fool’s Idea podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes. More short documentaries can be found on their YouTube channel.

This post was kindly contributed by Jeremy Charles Hohn, Art Director at ClownMa dell’Arte.

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