Friday, 9 August 2013

The Funniest Show On Earth!

The first seven days of August were International Clown Week, so what better way could there have been to round off the week than with a visit to Britain’s funniest clowns, father and son funnymen Clive Webb and Danny Adams in Cirque du Hilarious - Daredevils and Clowns?
The comic twosome usually work in theatres, with extensive engagements in the Butlins resorts of Minehead, Bognor and Skegness this year, so it was great to see them in a proper circus tent where they are appearing, in Southwold, for one month only, until August 31.
With 1950s rock’n’roll playing and creating a fairground atmosphere as we took our seats, the big top has been divided internally with a proscenium arch to create an intimate cabaret-style space. The semi-circle of tiered bench seats brings the audience much closer to the half-circle stage than you’d normally find either around a normal-sized in-the-round circus ring or in an ordinary theatre - and the intimacy of the set-up made every aspect of the show even better.
The show is called Daredevils and Clowns and some genuine daredevilry was provided in the first half by Sascha Williams who built a high-altitude rola-rola tower on an already tall platform... then proceeded to play a Led Zepplin electric guitar solo while balancing precariously on the summit! A slick juggler added more circus in the second half, while the Cirque du Hilarious Dancers performed in a number of classy costumes to give the show a fast-moving variety show feel.
As always, though, it was ringmaster Clive Webb and clown Danny Adams who dominated, with a non-stop barrage of genuine belly laughs. The thing with both performers is that their anarchic delight in everything they do is both palpable and infectious. Never just going through the motions, you can feel them pushing and pushing themselves and each other to new heights of cheekiness.
Danny Adams takes a fall
The bit where Danny torments a singer by squirting her with a water pistol, covering her in toilet paper and spraying her with foam? Of course it’s scripted, but Danny plays the part with such a mad gleam in his eye you’d really think he was making it up as he went along. Surely he won’t really squirt it up her skirt, you think. And the moment when you can almost see him thinking about it, like a naughty kid wondering if he’ll get away with it, makes it all the funnier when he does.
“How do you get a fat girl into bed? Piece of cake!” quipped Danny in an opening salvo that set the tone for his endless stream of one-liners.
The humour was cartoonishly visual, too. A piano and a Punch and Judy tent are blown up in gleefully noisy explosions. Two of the funniest moments come when Danny, dressed as Elvis, is first shrunk to a couple of feet tall then blown up to sumo wrestler size.
Then again, some of the biggest laughter comes from embarrassment and tension, and Danny milks every drop of Mickey-taking from an eye-wateringly funny skit involving four audience members and a unicycle.
Add a custard pie fight, a royal baby fart gag that’s a literal blast, and a musical climax by clown rock band Clown Force, and you have the funniest afternoon or evening you could ever enjoy in a circus tent.
If you are within 100 miles of Southwold, Suffolk, DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Show times are 3pm daily and 3pm and 6pm Wed, Thur and Sat until Aug 31. Box Office: 01775 764777.

As we left, it was impossible to resist the romantic image of the stripy big top against the setting sun, with its brightly lit box office wagon to the front, vintage lorries and caravans parked to the rear.
But what’s life really like for those who run away with the circus?
Find out in the 1930s romance The Showman's Girl by Julia Douglas, available to borrow in paperback from your local library or to download from iTunes for the Circus Ridiculous price of just 49p!

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