Food & Drink

Randy Minkler Celebrates 25 Years of Clowning Around

Seattle’s clown jewel turns 25 at the Moisture Festival

By Lara Roché-Sudar March 2, 2015

0315seattleite

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

For the last 25 years, Seattle performer Randy Minkler has been taking the stage in the guise of a clown named Godfrey Daniels, and even he agrees with the general consensus: “Clowns can be scary.” But Minkler has a strategy for getting beyond that hard truth. “I don’t think of him as a clown,” he says of Godfrey, “he’s more like an internally driven puppet.”

Minkler is completely hidden inside the Godfrey costume (his own face is at Godfrey’s chest level), so instead of facial expressions, he uses full body movement—awkward and gangly-armed—to convey emotion. Rather than the usual clown antics, the routine is a kind of silent dance between Godfrey and a big red balloon, which is partially filled with helium and weighted to achieve a floating effect. Live instrumental music adds to the charming, slightly disenchanted vibe. “There’s a grace to it,” Minkler says. “Part of the beauty of the act is that it’s simple.” He draws inspiration from on-stage slipups. Sometimes the balloon will go drifting off toward the ceiling, leaving Godfrey standing on stage, watching it fly away. “He’s naturally clumsy,” Minkler says of his alter ego. “Things go wrong, and he tries to fix them.”

The audience often can’t tell the difference between what’s planned and what’s serendipitous. See for yourself at this month’s Moisture Festival (3/19–4/12), the vaudeville extravaganza in which Godfrey and Minkler make their anticipated annual appearance.

Need To Know:

1/ Godfrey got his start in 1990, when Minkler and friends were performing as a 
troupe of vaudevillians at the Oregon Country Fair. Someone had to be the clown, 
and Minkler volunteered.
2/ For Godfrey’s costume design, Minkler drew on memories of the skits he and 
his siblings put on during their childhood. 
3/ As “Director of Artist Intelligence” for the Moisture Festival, Minkler helps to curate a multitude of performers from across the country into 36 unique variety show lineups. 
4/ There’s a simple reason for Godfrey’s silence: He doesn’t have a functioning mouth
  1. Godfrey got his start in 1990, when Minkler and friends were performing as a troupe of vaudevillians at the Oregon Country Fair. Someone had to be the clown, and Minkler volunteered.
  2. For Godfrey’s costume design, Minkler drew on memories of the skits he and his siblings put on during their childhood. 
  3. As “Director of Artist Intelligence” for the Moisture Festival, Minkler helps to curate a multitude of performers from across the country into 36 unique variety show lineups. 
  4. There’s a simple reason for Godfrey’s silence: He doesn’t have a functioning mouth.

 

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