Shakes the Clown

(Bobcat Goldthwait, USA, 1991)


If you can imagine an absolutely tasteless, feature-length, live-action sketch featuring Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons, you will have some idea what the very odd and quite singular Shakes the Clown is like.

This relentlessly sleazy comedy is essentially a series of gross scenes showing ugly men in awful wigs swearing, going to the toilet, spewing, brawling and ogling young women.

It is mostly set in a gloomy bar, with a slim plot involving a murder frame-up and the struggle for a kids' TV show kicking in rather late.

It is not a particularly auspicious writing and directing debut for its star, the grating comedian Bobcat Goldthwait (Hot to Trot, 1988).

Still, there are some memorable moments provided by ex-Brady Bunch Florence Henderson hung over and smeared with clown make-up after her one night stand with Shakes; Julie Brown (Medusa: Dare to be Truthful, 1992) sporting an outrageous speech impediment; and Robin Williams as a foppish mime instructor leading a class on "riding a pony into the Grand Canyon – an existential mime dealing with life and death".

MORE Bobcat: Freaked, Blow

© Adrian Martin September 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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