Deemed “the sad clown with the golden voice,” Puddles Pity Party is a 6-foot 8-inch melancholy baby on the outside, but joyous on the inside.
He doesn’t speak. Music gives him voice, but he agreed to do an email interview with Hoopla. His answers are illuminating and fun — every inch of the way.
He’ll be coming to the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Oct. 12. He’s one of the star attractions of the annual Witching Hour festival, dedicated to “exploring the unknown, discussing creative process and presenting new work,” welcoming “the brightest artists and thinkers pushing the boundaries of their respective crafts.” That’s an apt description of Puddles Pity Party, who refers to himself as P3.
Q: I first stepped into the Puddles realm via the 2013 “Royals” video on YouTube. Since then, you have toured with Postmodern Jukebox and competed on “America’s Got Talent.” How do you keep building your fan base — is social media still your biggest outlet?
A: I prefer to think of it as my “friends base,” not “fan base.” Social media is a huge part of it. But going from town to town and high-fiving P3ers in the audience creates an instant and lasting connection. I also enjoy Puddles Cuddles in the lobby after each show. Looking people in the eye and listening to what they have to say gives me lots of inspiration.
Q: On AGT, Simon loved your voice but is no fan of clowns; Heidi and others felt you were too sad; Howie said: “I, too, am a clown who’s sad inside.” What role does the sad clown play in the clownosphere?
A: I’m just doing my thing. And the judges do their thing. You know someone once said that the world’s a stage and each must play a part. Clowns get bad press sometimes because of a few scary characters in the movies. But I’m definitely not playing that role. I’m a hugger, not a mugger!
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Q: Puddles seems to follow in the traditions of the Pierrot style of French and commedia dell’arte Whiteface clowns. Why do you gravitate toward this, as opposed to an Auguste or Tramp persona?
A: Ah, the French! They’re all about the fashion and the passion.
Q: What do you strive to communicate through your music and song choices?
A: That it’s OK to feel whatever you’re feeling. Sad, happy, bewildered. Just let it go!
Q: What did you take away from the AGT experience, which seemed to give you one of your largest stages for mass exposure?
A: I made lots of new friends in the cast and crew and the audience, too (like you!).
Q: I read Puddles’ story on www.puddlespityparty.com/about/ It says you’re originally from River City — is that in Georgia? (I’m checking, because Iowa has its own River City — Mason City — home to our Music Man, Meredith Willson.)
A: I’m not from Mr. Willson’s River City even though my name starts with “P” and that rhymes with “T” and that stands for Trouble!
Q: How did you make your way to Atlanta?
A: I-85 South
Q: How did you hook up with Scott Bradlee?
A: Hook up? That sounds naughty! I first met Scott when we were both working as painters on the Queensboro Bridge in NYC. I didn’t last long on that job due to my fear of heights and hard work. Many people don’t know what a fantastic painter Scott is.
Q: During your world travels, where have you found your most enthusiastic audiences?
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A: Every place has it’s own special style. Enthusiasm is expressed differently in different regions. Some audiences are polite and reserved at first (like in London or Madison, Wis.). And some audiences are hootin’ and hollerin’ like lunatics before I even sing a note (I’m looking at you, Glasgow and San Francisco!).
Q: What will audiences see in your (Oct. 12 appearance) at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City?
A: This will be my first time ever in Iowa City. I’m excited to be part of the Witching Hour Festival! Audiences can expect singalongs and free Puddles Cuddles for whoever wants ‘em!
Q: What kind of atmosphere do you hope to create for your concert audiences?
A: I always try to foster a sense of Inclusivity at my shows. And I encourage audiences to let their freak flag fly. It’s fun to be a weirdo!
Q: What do you want them to take home from the experience?
A: The feeling of fellowship and that we’re all in this together. And some official Puddles Pity Party souvenirs, if they are so inclined!
Q: How much time do you spend on the road?
A: Most of the time.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Q: Will you reveal your age?
A: I’m old enough to know better and young enough not to care.
Q: What’s next for Puddles?
A: Lunch! Wanna join me?
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WHAT: Witching Hour presents: Puddles Pity Party
WHERE: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Oct. 12
TICKETS: General admission: $25 advance, $35 show day, or with Witching Hour passes, Englert Box Office, (319) 688-2653 or Englert.org/event/puddles-pity-party/
WITCHING HOUR: $55 two-day pass, $35 one-day pass, $20 student two-day pass; Englert Box Office or Witchinghourfestival.com
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Puddlespityparty.com