Shakes the Clown is a 1991 American black comedy film directed and written by Bobcat Goldthwait, who performs the title role. It also features Julie Brown, Blake Clark, Paul Dooley, Kathy Griffin, Florence Henderson, Tom Kenny, Adam Sandler, Scott Herriott, LaWanda Page, Jack Gallagher, and a cameo by Robin Williams as Mime Jerry using the pseudonym "Marty Fromage".

Plot[edit | edit source]

The film is a dark comedy about a birthday-party clown (Goldthwait) in the grip of depression and alcoholism, who is framed for murder. Different communities of clowns, mimes and other performers are depicted as clannish, rivalrous subcultures obsessed with precedence and status. This was Goldthwait's bitter satire of the dysfunctional standup comedy circuit he knew as a performer.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Reception[edit][edit | edit source]

Shakes the Clown was not a financial success, earning an estimated $115,000 in ticket sales against an estimated budget of $1.4 million.

Critical reaction to the movie was mixed: Leonard Maltin gave it his lowest rating, while Betsy Sherman of The Boston Globe called it "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies". Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, writing that while some isolated scenes were "very funny" the plot was scattered and the performances often seemed under-rehearsed. The film has a 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews, with the consensus; "Shakes the Clown has a handful of memorable moments, but they're scattered in a movie whose best ideas were left undeveloped on their way to the screen."

The film was nominated for Worst Picture at the 1991 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards but lost to Nothing but Trouble.

In an interview with Conan O'Brien, Goldthwait revealed that Martin Scorsese had defended the movie from detractors. When a film critic derided the movie in order to make a point about good and bad movies, Scorsese revealed, "I like Shakes the Clown. Haven't you heard? It's the Citizen Kane of Alcoholic Clown Movies!"

In popular culture[edit | edit source]

A sample from this movie was used in the song Interloper by the heavy metal band Slipknot.

The song Binky the Doormat by R.E.M., from the album New Adventures in Hi-Fi, is titled after a supporting character of this movie.

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