Clowns have taken quite a bashing lately. Fox’s In Living Color sports Homey, a cynical burnout of a joker who hits kids on the head. The Simpsons has Krusty, with a wide-eyed, mental look and criminal past. Now there’s Shakes, in Shakes the Clown, as played by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, a most unredeemable birthday-party clown who has a drinking problem, hates kids, and pursues one-night stands. His clown pal Binky is no bargain either: He has a cocaine habit and flips into psychotic rages at the drop of a polka-dotted hat. They’re being framed for murder by two worse clowns.
The new movie, directed by Goldthwait and produced by his wife, Ann Luly, and starring friends Tim Kazurinsky, Joel Murray, Julie Brown, and an uncredited Robin Williams as clown cohorts, has left real clowns shaken. ”I never like to see anything that portrays this art form in a negative way,” says Steve Smith, director of Clown College in Venice, Fla., and a clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Will the greasepainted guys protest? Says Smith, ”We won’t stand on a soapbox about one film even if we hate it…(but) I do wish (Goldthwait) would wear the rubber nose with some responsibility and respect.”
”Clowns have no sense of humor,” counters Goldthwait. ”Bozo sued us over a song in the film that sampled his voice.” The suit was recently settled out of court.