Boasting an ever-increasing fanbase of little and big kids across Gloucestershire and beyond, Tweedy the Clown is a guaranteed crowd pleaser, whether he’s performing in pantomime, circuses or going solo.
Discussing his new show, Tweedy’s Slapstick Symphony, that’s added extra dates due to popularity, SoGlos chats to Tweedy about his musical endeavour, clowning inspirations and of course, his sidekick Keef.
How did the first show at the Everyman go?
Very good, I was very pleased. The thing is, if things go wrong the audience finds it really funny and it kind of adds to the show – the audience thinks it’s all part of the act!
Do you get as many adults in the audience as the kids?
Yes! It was interesting because I did an afternoon and evening show at the Everyman and at the later one, there were a lot of adults on their own without kids, which is really nice.
Clowning originally wasn’t just for kids, but it’s got the reputation for being that now. It’s nice that people are starting to realise that it’s not just for kids.
I quite often get people saying ‘I’d love to come to the circus but I don’t have any kids’. But you don’t need kids! And people are realising that now. It’s not just kids’ entertainment, it’s for the whole family.
Have you found the music element challenging?
Yes, it has been a challenge! I still do mess up a little bit… or I did the other day! But luckily, I can get away with it.
I’ve loved doing it. I’ve learned a lot about music, and I’ve loved learning the instruments. I’ve managed to get all of these new skills that I’ve made into a show, so it’s always great to give yourself that challenge and deadline. That’s when you know you have to learn it, and not put it off!
How do you find the time to create new shows?
I find time around the panto and circus performances. Days when I only have a show in the evening, I have all day and annoy everybody practising!
And how do you find the inspiration?
With this show I was exploring clowns from the turn of the century, the end of the 1800s and into the 1900s. There’s a famous clown, Grock, who was the highest paid variety artist in the world at the time and he was a clown.
So I studied him; his act was 45 minutes long and it was all music, so I looked at him a lot, and clowns of that era, and I got an old book with routines from that period. In the book they don’t sound funny at all, but I did take a couple of them and they do work.
It was very interesting to bring those things back to life, things that haven’t been seen in a long time.
I do like there to be a slight narrative in my shows; even though it’s a series of routines I like there to be a story. So I brought in this other character, Ludvink Loyal, someone who’s trying to put on a serious classical concert – and of course, I’m getting in the way and messing it all up!
Have you worked with Tom (playing Ludvink Loyal) before?
He was in the Everyman’s pantomime a couple of years ago and he’s been brilliant, perfect for the role.
I didn’t realise it was going to be so difficult when I had the idea. I thought there’d be hundreds of actor-musicians; I just wanted someone who could play the piano, guitar and act too – and it was very difficult to find someone!
Then I remember Tom, who was in Cinderella and got in touch with him – and it’s worked out brilliantly.
What’s your favourite thing about your solo shows?
I can take my time more because it’s completely up to me what happens. With other shows you’re a bit restricted because the other acts are waiting to get on, you can’t drag it out.
But if something goes wrong or happens you like to go with it, and in solo shows I can take my time more with it – I have a bit more freedom, that’s the main thing.
Does Keef make an appearance?
Of course! I think people would complain if he wasn’t in it!
How are the preparations for Giffords?
It’s very exciting! The new tent is up, and there are lots of new and exciting things going on there.
Can we expect any dog appearances, as in the past?
Well… there’s a whole act of dogs! A little troupe of dogs, so that’s very exciting! Very funny!
And finally, what can audiences expect from your show?
They can see me doing things that they won’t have seen me doing before… I do a bit of singing, a bit of dancing, and play lots of musical instruments!
By Kathryn Purvis
For more information see Tweedy's Slapstick Symphony, call (01242) 572573, or visit everymantheatre.org.uk directly.