The purpose of this blog is to share stories from the road of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown Alley. With this resource we can relive those days and have a better understanding of the transitions within Clown Alley over the years. I feel historically it's important to share these stories for future generations. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Thank You

Bobby Kaye usually wasn't on the show all of the time. He used to come and go a lot. The year was 1975 and the country was getting ready for its Bicentennial celebration. So for this special show Bobby had decided to do the whole tour.
 This was an added gem for us. Because he had taught the entire time at our Clown College it made for an easy transition for us. It was comforting knowing that he would be with us for the next two years.

 Besides the great ones that I mentioned before we had quite a collection of other people in the alley. We had clowns that had been there from 6 years down to 2 years. And then there were the eleven of us. We couldn't have had a better spread of knowledge.

 In the six year range we had Richard Mann, Peggy Williams, and Jimmy Briscoe.

 Richard Mann was a beautiful clown. So tall and elegant. To watch him was truly magical! It was almost ghostly to watch him as he floated throughout the arena. I never saw anyone move with the grace and smoothness of Richard.

 Peggy of course was the first girl from Clown College. Remember her article in the paper was the reason I was there to begin with. For this reason I always had the utmost respect for her.
 When she first joined the show she had to dress in the showgirls dressing room because there were no other girl clowns. She really paid her dues. When you had personal problems she was always there to council you. Always a great help in these situations.

 Jimmy was a little person with lot of personality. His antics would always keep us laughing. He did a lot of things with Uncle Soapy. They did a tv gag where Jimmy was a weatherman inside the screen. Uncle Soapy was watching as Jimmy would report the weather. Jimmy would douse Uncle Soapy with every thing from fake snow to a bucket of water. At the end Jimmy would jump out of the set and all mayhem broke loose. Brilliant gag. He was an all around fun guy.

 In the 3 year range we had Ron Jarvis, Mark Buthman, and Vince Monzo.

 Ron and Mark were two guys who grew up together and went to Clown College. They were like brothers. Because of this they had great timing between them. Ron was a mime sort of clown but very physical. Mark on the other hand was a typical auguste and also very physical. Together they made a great team. They did a two man juggling routine that was excellent. My favorite thing they did was a routine with a dummy they could spin around and fight with. Mark told me it was based on the story of Don Quixote.

 Vince was like watching a little wind up doll. His animated moves really made you fall in love with him. He also loved to go to movies and analyze them. He knew more about film than Siskel and Ebert!

 In the 2 year range were John Mchugh, Lenny Wolen, Anthony Chicino, Serf Rocha, and Jimmy Tinsman.

 John Mchugh was a clown ahead of his time. Everything about him was scientific. His costume were made of some kind of special vinyl he could only get in New York. He also had Christmas lights on the front of it that would flash in different patterns. He must have spent a fortune on batteries! His walkaround was Sherlock Holmes with a big magnifying glass. Behind him were some black footprints. As he walked they would follow him.
 Anthony and Lenny were best friends. Anthony was a beautiful whiteface who used alot of glitter in his makeup. He did alot of illusions and would usually work with Richard Mann.

 Lenny was a large man. He was usually dressed as a female for production numbers. Seeing this large man in drag, dancing around the arena was hilarious. They did a walkaround as two roller derby girls that would have you in stitches!

 Jimmy Tinsman was on the Blue show the year before. While he was practicing charavari  (This is an acrobatic act where you would jump on a trampoline and bounce over a 4' high barrier) he broke his ankle and was let go.
  Bill Irwin turned down his contract and they called Jimmy up. He was an All American guy who always seemed to have all the luck. I'm glad this happened because we became partners and very good friends. We did a table rock and were quite successful with it. I loved working with Jimmy. In four years we never had an argument.

 Serf Rocha was another little person. He had been a wrestler before Clown College and was in great shape. He was Lous partner for the little car. Serf never stopped working, constantly painting or fixing something. We did a walkaround where I was a porter pushing a trunk . When I stopped he would roll out in pajamas with a pillow. We would argue. He would slap me and jump back into the trunk.

 And then there were the rest of us. The 11 "First of Mays" included, Myself, Barry Lubin, Ruth Chaddock, Steve Laporte, Mark Stolzenberg, Dale Longmire, Bruce Gutilla, Kathy Herb, George Koury, Mike King, and Tim Doody. What a great alley we had.

 There was also one more clown from Poland . His name was Kochmanski.

  He had been horse riding clown in Poland, where he did an act similar to Poodles Hanneford. And now he worked with a dog named Krupka. I saw him practice an act where he and the dog would play cards, smoke cigars, and drink whiskey, at the end they would both walkaway in a drunk stupor! They never did it in the show. He was also the one who taught me the little teeterboard.

 I can only say thank you to all of them.     


  1. Hi Mitch, The dancing doll ring gag that Mark and I fought over was based on a sight gag at the end of The Three Musketeers movie with Raquel Welsh. It is the last gag in the movie and has Raquel looking in one direction when a knight's training device that swivels is hit and spins around and knocks her off her horse. It was that prop combined with a chair routine that made up the gag. It was originally about 3.5 minutes long when we opened the 2nd act but was shortened to 2.5 to fill the magic display when Dale took sick. Frosty said we would have to cut some of our bits in the gag to make it work... We didn't cut a thing... we just went faster! We were opposite the wrestling gag.

  2. If you know how to contact Richard Mann, could you please let me know by sending an email to We're trying to reach him for our 40th high school reunion. Thank you.

  3. Richard Mann was a very dear friend of mine in high school. I have been trying to get back in touch with him and came across your blog. Yes, I am certain it is the same Richard Mann. Your description of his height, elegance and grace confirm for me that he is the same Richard I lost track of while he was in Clown College. Would you still be in touch with him and/or able to contact him so I can either reach him or get a message to him?

  4. Hi, trying to find Vince Monzo. I'm his second cousin, his father (Tommy) was my godfather. Last i know he was in Brooklyn. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    can email me at


  5. I am also searching for Richard. My name is Samantha and I can be reached at