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David Larible, le plus grand clown du monde, en représentation à Douai
samedi 23.01.2010, 05:06 - La Voix du Nord
Avec son partenaire le clown blanc Gensi, David Larible rend hommage aux plus grands noms du cirque.

PHOTO ÉMILIE DENIS
Il est présenté comme le plus grand clown du monde. Ami des plus grandes stars du cinéma, dont Woody Allen, couronné par un clown d'or au festival international du cirque de Monte Carlo, David Larible a même donné la réplique à Jerry Lewis dans un numéro télévisé  ! ...

Étrange que l'artiste, de renommée mondiale (sa tournée passe par l'Allemagne, l'Autriche, l'Espagne, l'Italie et même l'Argentine) soit presque un inconnu en France. L'an passé, entre deux dates à l'étranger, David Larible avait fait halte au théâtre de Douai où le public avait alors réservé un triomphe à son spectacle.
Une pointure du rire, donc, qui posera à nouveau ses gags à Douai, deux soirs durant, et cette fois, à L'Hippodrome. La scène nationale, qui fait cette saison la part belle aux arts du cirque, renoue ainsi avec sa vocation historique de cirque d'hiver.
Partage avec le public
La venue de David Larible, qui retrace à travers ses numéros toute l'histoire du clown, s'inscrit parfaitement à la fois dans les lieux et dans la programmation de la salle douaisienne.
Avec son partenaire, le clown blanc Gensi, il fait revivre la commedia dell'arte, les Fratellini, et même Charlie Chaplin.
Celui qui revendique l'héritage des plus grands du rire aime également partager, en associant le public à ses pitreries et autres situations burlesques.
Partage encore puisqu'en première partie, les spectateurs découvriront des vieux routiers du cirque. Cracra et Momo, des Douaisiens qui perpétuent depuis vingt ans la tradition des duos de clowns, celle du clown blanc et de l'auguste, alternant les classiques de la piste, adaptés au public d'aujourd'hui, des numéros musicaux et des chansons.  Deux soirées antidotes à la morosité. •
> Les vendredi 29 et samedi 30 janvier à 20 h 30 à L'Hippodrome de Douai, place du Barlet. Adulte 25 E, enfant (jusqu'à 15 ans) : 15 E plus 1,20 E (frais de réservation). Réservations auprès de L'Hippodrome au 03 27 99 66 66.





CLOWN D'OR à MONTE-CARLO

Photo Kurt Sikora


David Larible est l’un des clowns vivants les plus connus de notre temps. Né à Vérone en 1957, il est le dernier représentant de sept générations d'une famille de tradition circassienne. En piste depuis qu’il est tout enfant, dans des disciplines très différentes, il obtient ainsi une formation encyclopédique dans ce domaine. En 1980 il choisit de se spécialiser comme clown. En 1988 il est récompensé par le Clown d'Argent au Festival de Monte-Carlo. Kenneth Feld, producteur du Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, le plus grand cirque des Etats-Unis le découvre et en fait sa vedette principale. En 1999, David Larible revient au Festival de Monte-Carlo et cette fois il obtient le Clown d’Or et devient ainsi le premier clown dans l'histoire du cirque à remporter cette distinction !






ITALIE






David Larible, premiato con il “Clown d’Oro” dal Principe Ranieri di Monaco, è considerato il più grande clown dei nostri giorni. Di certo è l’artista della risata più applaudito al mondo, visto che quando si esibisce al Madison Square Garden di New York, è visto in un solo week end da oltre 120.000 persone.
Fa parte della settima generazione di una famiglia di tradizione circense imparentata con i Travaglia. Nato a Verona nel 1957, è in pista sin da giovanissimo, esibendosi nelle discipline più diverse per ottenere una formazione enciclopedica. Per quattro anni è ospite fisso del programma della tv tedesca Sterne in der Manege. Ha modo di osservare da vicino due grandi clown del secolo, Charlie Rivel e Oleg Popov. Negli stessi anni definisce il proprio personaggio, un augusto classico con un vestito grigio semplice, un cappello alla Jackie Coogan de Il Monello (di Chaplin), un trucco leggero, scarponi ed il classico naso rosso. Nel 1988 è chiamato dal Principe Ranieri al Festival di Monte Carlo, dove incanta a sorpresa e vince un Clown d’Argento. E’ ingaggiato negli Usa da Barnum col titolo “Il clown dei clowns”. Ogni anno crea nuovi numeri alla maniera della commedia dell’arte stravolgendo canovacci preesistenti. Il successo in tutti gli Stati Uniti, dove il pubblico è multietnico, dimostra l’universalità della sua comicità. Torna al Festival di Monte Carlo e conquista il Clown d’Oro. A Broadway il suo spettacolo resta in cartellone per sei settimane.
Il suo show è la messa in scena fluida e coordinata dei suoi migliori numeri nei quali coinvolge spessissimo gli spettatori, che diventano anche loro protagonisti della scena. David Larible nei panni di un uomo delle pulizie del teatro si trucca e diventa pagliaccio, alterna gags visuali a brani musicali (suona cinque strumenti). David Larible dosa i meccanismi funzionali allo scoppio della risata con quelli in cui si da spazio e forza al soffio poetico dell’anima del clown, un protagonista della scena che rappresenta pur sempre il volto del perdente in lotta con l’esistenza.
In Italia lo spettacolo è stato fra gli eventi più acclamati della Festa del Circo di Brescia. E al Teatro Goldoni di Venezia con repliche tutte esaurite.

E’ considerato il più grande clown classico del momento. Di certo è l’artista circense più applaudito al mondo, al Madison Square Garden di New York, ogni week end, è visto da 120.000 persone. Ha un personaggio di augusto classico con un vestito grigio semplice, un cappello alla Jackie Coogan de Il Monello, un trucco leggero ed il classico naso rosso. Nel 1988 è chiamato dal Principe Ranieri al Festival di Monte Carlo, dove vince un Clown d’Argento. Da allora è ingaggiato dal più importante gruppo di spettacoli dal vivo degli USA, dove viene chiamato “Il clown dei clowns”. In America è famosissimo, il clown preferito di personaggi come Jerry Lewis o Sandra Bullock. In cartellone per due mesi a Broadway. Dal 1996 approda al palcoscenico. Lo spettacolo è la messa in scena fluida e coordinata dei suoi migliori numeri. Nel 1999 torna al Festival di Monte Carlo, dove conquista il Clown d’Oro. In Italia ha partecipato alla Festa del Circo Contemporaneo di Brescia dove è stato fra gli eventi più acclamati. È stato al Teatro Goldoni di Venezia con tutto esaurito e grande successo della critica.



ALLEMAGNE

Familie

Die Familie Larible kommt ursprünglich aus Frankreich. David Larible blickt auf sechs Generationen von Artisten zurück. Es bestehen verwandtschaftliche Bindungen mit zahlreichen anderen europäischen Zirkusfamilien. Sein Urgroßvater Pierre Larible war Akrobat und Tänzer, der Großvater Clown. Laribles Vater ist der ehemalige Trapezkünstler und Jongleur Eugenio Larible, der heute noch an der Zirkusschule von Verona unterrichtet. Die Mutter Lucina Casartelli (1931–2003) war Zirkuskind und Artistin wie ihr Mann.
David Larible hat drei Schwestern: Eliana Paul, verheiratet mit Bernhard Paul, Cinzia Larible-Gerard und die Trapezkünstlerin Vivien, verheiratet mit Noè España von der Ikarier-Truppe Flying Españas.
Larible ist seit 1982 mit der (damals noch aktiven) mexikanischen Trapezkünstlerin America Olvera Jimenez verheiratet. Das Paar hat zwei Kinder – die Tochter Shirley (* 1989) und den Sohn David Pierre (* 1997). Beide wollen Artisten werden.

Kindheit und Jugend

Larible wuchs in Verona und in verschiedenen Zirkussen auf. Sein Vater Eugenio trat als Jongleur und gemeinsam mit seinem Onkel Renzo am Trapez auf. Neben seiner Muttersprache Italienisch lernte David Larible fließend Französisch, Spanisch, Portugiesisch, Englisch und Deutsch.
In Interviews erzählt er gerne, er hätte als Achtjähriger beschlossen, Clown zu werden. Sein Vater sei darüber nicht sehr glücklich gewesen, er hatte sich gewünscht, dass sein Sohn Trapezkünstler wird wie er. Doch schließlich wäre er einverstanden gewesen und hätte den Sohn gleichermaßen gefördert wie gefordert.

Karriere

In seiner Kindheit wird David Larible von seinem Vater Eugenio in Akrobatik und Jonglage unterrichtet. 1968 beginnt er mit einer Ausbildung am Musikkonservatorium in Verona. Seinen ersten offiziellen Auftritt in der Manege absolviert er 1973 im Circus Medrano seines Onkels. Dort tritt er mit seiner Familie in einer Rollschuhnummer auf.
In den 1970er Jahren folgen Engagements im Schweizer Circus Nock und im französischen Circus Bouglione. Als Laribles Eltern Anfang der 1980er Jahre im Circus Krone engagiert sind, bittet ihn die damalige Circus-Direktorin Frieda Sembach-Krone, für einen Clown einzuspringen. Er nützt die Chance und baut die anfangs kleine Nummer immer weiter aus.
Weitere Engagements folgen. Nach einem dreijährigen Gastspiel beim italienischen Circus Cesar Togni kehrt Larible nach München in den Circus Krone zurück, wo er bis 1989 bleibt. In diesem Zeitraum produziert das ZDF mit ihm die Fernsehserie Circus – Tiere, Clowns und Akrobaten (u. a. präsentiert von Freddy Quinn). Einige Male sieht man ihn im Rahmen der Stars in der Manege. In den 1980er Jahren beginnt er, in seine Nummern das Publikum mit einzubeziehen – bis heute bleibt das eines seiner Markenzeichen.
1989 verlässt Larible Deutschland und kommt über Gastspiele in England und Mexiko 1991 zum größten und wohl berühmtesten Circus der USARingling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. Von 1993 bis 2005 hat er dort ein fixes Engagement und entwickelt sich zur Hauptattraktion. Die Zeit in den USA ist geprägt durch harte Arbeit – Larible sagt, er hätte keinen Tag gefehlt, auch wenn er krank war, trat er auf. Andererseits entwickelt er in diesen Jahren weitere Markenzeichen, erfindet neue Nummern und perfektioniert seine Performance. Gemeinsam mit dem Ringling-Eigentümer Kenneth Feld entwickelt Larible Barnum’s Kaleidoscape, ein für die USA neues Circus-Konzept.
Larible hatte einen kurzen Auftritt im Film Ocean’s Eleven von 2001.
2005 kehrte Larible nach Europa zurück. Seit 2006 ist er fix beim deutschen Circus Roncalli engagiert.

Stil

David Larible tritt als klassischer Dummer August auf. Wohl aufgrund seiner unterschiedlichen Ausbildungen verfügt er über ein breites Repertoire als Tänzer, Sänger, Musiker und Jongleur. Zu seinen Spezialitäten gehört es, direkt mit dem Publikum Kontakt aufzunehmen und Zuseher in seine Handlungen miteinzubeziehen. Er verwendet klassische Elemente des Dummen August, ist aber auch durch Klassische Musik, die Oper und das Ballett inspiriert. Als Vorbilder nennt Larible Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Rivel und Grock. In seiner Gestik und Mimik erinnert er in manchen Sequenzen deutlich an Chaplin, entfaltet dabei aber doch seinen ganz eigenen Stil und besticht durch seine Ausstrahlung und Präsenz in der Manege. Auch von Chaplin komponierte Musik setzt er in den Vorstellungen ein.

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Literatur

  • Kuik, Dirk: Der neue Star des Circus Roncalli. In: Gesellschaft der Circusfreunde e.V. (Hg.): Circus-Zeitung Nr. 6/2006, S. 22f.

Photo Kurt Sikora

Wer beim Internationalen Circusfestival von Monaco als „Bester unter den Besten“ den begehrten „Goldenen Clown“ aus den Händen eines Mitglieds der Fürstlichen Familie erhält, hat den Oscar für Artisten in der Tasche, ist ein „gemachter Mann“. So, wie der italienische Clown David Larible. Er hat 13 Jahre lang in Amerika beim größten Circus der Welt die imposantesten Arenen mit 20.000 Zuschauern zum Lachen gebracht, nun freut sich der Circus Roncalli, den „Goldenen Clown“ David Larible als Stargast in seinem Geburtstagsprogramm „30 Jahre Circus Roncalli“ präsentieren zu können. Ihn als Star unter den Clowns zu beschreiben, ist sicherlich nicht untertrieben. Bei „Ringling Bros. And Barnum &Bailey“ in Amerika war er die Hauptattraktion, arbeitete bei dem Drei Manegen Circus solo in der Mittelmanege. . Dort haben Millionen Menschen mit und über ihn gelacht. Mit seinem Konterfei auf Plakaten, Anzeigen und Programmheften lockte der Circus Vorstellung für Vorstellung bis zu 20.000 Menschen in den Madison Square Garden und andere großen Hallen des neuen Kontinents. Dabei stehen Laribles Auftritte im krassen Gegensatz zu der spektakulären und auf Sensationen ausgerichteten Show der Amerikaner: Ohne Requisiten und nur kraft seiner Persönlichkeit und seines überwältigenden komödiantischen Talents brachte er die Massen zum Lachen. Für diese Leistung bekam er die höchste Auszeichnung, die einem Circusartisten zu Teil werden kann: 1999 zeichnete ihn Fürst Rainer beim Internationalen Circusfestival vom Monte Carlo mit dem Goldenen Clown aus, 2006 wurde er noch einmal zur großen Jubiläumsgala in das Fürstentum eingeladen.









ESPAGNE

«Un payaso se alimenta del calor del público»

Mítico y peculiar pero siempre él. David Larible, el mítico payaso del circo Roncalli ha debutado por primera vez en nuestra tierra con la naturalidad y el talento que le caracterizan. Siete generaciones de arte circense ha sido la mejor herencia que le podía haber quedado a su persona y a su público, con el que comparte en cada actuación momentos inolvidables que se tornan a mágicos cuando el calor que recibe del público convierten la escena no en una despedida sino en sentimientos entrañables que obligan al 'príncipe de la risa' a volver a actuar para ellos.

-Nadie mejor que usted para poner el broche de oro a este I Festival Internacional de Circo, ¿qué opinión se lleva del festival y del público albacetense?

-Tengo que decir que me he quedado fascinado con la gente, me ha sorprendido la sencillez y la humildad de todo el mundo, incluso he tenido la oportunidad de pasear por las calles de Albacete y la gente me ha parado para felicitarme por la actuación; el calor del público es lo que me llevo a Italia. En cuanto al festival creo que es de un nivel insuperable, pues ha aglutinado a los mejores artistas circenses del mundo, con números nunca vistos y con una coordinación extraordinaria. Felicito a todos los que han hecho posible este espectáculo y agradezco siempre que hayan contado conmigo.

-¿Qué significado tiene para usted el circo?

-Para mi es una forma de vivir, no sólo un trabajo. Yo siempre lo comparo con una mariposa que se posa en un lugar y en un tiempo concreto para dejar que la admiren y después se marcha sin hacer ruido a otro lugar para seguir mostrando sus colores.

-¿Qué hubiera sido David Larible si no hubiera sido payaso?

-Si David Larible no hubiera sido payaso, David Larible no hubiera sido.

-Está claro que no entiende su vida sin el circo, tampoco el circo sería igual sin usted, considerado un mito en esto de la risa, pero su payaso no es sólo risa, también son emociones, sentimientos

-Tengo que decir que cuando salgo a un escenario no salgo jugando un papel, un payaso no es un actor, es una parte imprescindible de mi ser, mis sentimientos, mis alegrías, mis penas, mi forma de ver la vida, todo eso es mi payaso. La gente no quiere ver el típico payaso que da pena o que sólo se limita a hacer reir, quiere que le conmuevan, que seas natural y muy sencillo, este es el secreto del buen payaso.

-¿Es más fácil hacer reir a un niño o a un adulto?

-A un niño sin duda. Para llegar a un niño tienes que ser muy sencillo y esto tiende a convertirse en la tarea más difícil para el payaso, encontrar la perfección y la pureza del lenguaje limpio del niño. A los adultos se llega fácilmente y también responden muy generosamente a lo que haces.

-¿Basta con pintarse la cara y hacer reir encima del escenario para ser payaso?

-Por supuesto que no, el payaso no se hace, nace payaso, es un arte innato que tienes que desarrollar a lo largo de toda tu vida, tienes que desear con todas tus fuerzas lo que haces para ser bueno en el escenario, aunque no desmerezco el trabajo de la gente que juega el papel de payaso en un momento determinado para hacer reir a la gente.

-¿Qué mensaje traslada a su público?

-En realidad nunca trato de trasladar ningún mensaje pero si tuviera que hacerlo sería el de no tomarse en serio a uno mismo, tenemos que aprender a reirnos de nosotros para ser más felices.
ROCÍO MINAYA



ROYAUME UNI

TIME Interview: DAVID LARIBLE par By KARL SCHATZ

"Prince of Laughter"

David Larible takes his clowning very seriously. The star of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Baily Circus, the Italian-born Larible is a veritable font of circus history and knowledge, which he surrounds with his own philosophy about clowning. As a performer, Larible not only tries to work the current trends of popular culture into his act, but also the members of the audience as well. "Working with the audience is the most important part of what I do," says Larible. "We have fun together." TIME.com talked to the seventh-generation circus performer about life in the circus, his unique approach to clowning, Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), and what he'd do if he got Osama bin Laden in the ring.

You are a seventh generation circus performer. Were all seven generations of Laribles clowns?
My father was never a clown, he was a trapeze artist and a juggler. My grandfather was a clown. My great-grandfather was an acrobat and a dancer. And before that we really don't know. The latest documentation we have is an 1859 poster where the name of my great-grandfather, Pierre Larible, is printed.
Was your father disappointed that you didn't become a trapeze artist?
At the beginning, yes. Because that's normally how it goes in the circus; it goes from generation to generation and your teacher is your father. Like a craftsman, you pass your craft on to your son. If you are a trapeze artist, chances are that your son will be a trapeze artist. But I made the decision to become a clown when I was 8. My father thought it was just a phase. In the beginning he was not very happy, not because he was against it, but because he told me, "David, what can I teach you? I am not a clown." But he was cool with it and later he told me, "If you want to be a clown, I don't want you to be only a clown, I want you to be the best clown. So you have to really work hard. A good clown has to learn everything. You have to be an all-around circus performer. And then you can be a clown." Clowning is the end of the process, it's not the beginning of the process — that's what he taught me.
What was the process like?
My dad started by teaching me juggling and acrobatics, and he sent me to dance school and music school. I wasn't very happy, I said, "Dad, why are you sending me here? I want to be a clown, I don't want to be a dancer." And he said, "You want to be a great clown? You have to be able to move nicely. And to move nicely you have to learn ballet. You have to be able to play 2-3 instruments at least, because a good clown has to be a good musician."
My father has always been my biggest fan, but also my toughest critic. One of the best moments of my life was when I went to the festival in Monte Carlo two years ago. It's a tough festival. When you win there it's like an Oscar for an actor. You have performers from all over the world, and you don't just compete against clowns, you compete against the acrobats of Cirque du Soliel, or the acrobatic dancers from China. You compete with everyone, and you are judged by your peers. I am proud, of course, of the first prize, of the golden clown, but what I'm most proud of is that I was the first performer in the history of the competition to have a 5-minute standing ovation. And to see him there, standing and looking around with tears in his eyes, for me that was the best moment of my career.
Are your children training to be circus performers?
My daughter wants to be an aerialist. So she wants to follow in my father's footsteps and go on the trapeze. I have a sister, too, who is a trapeze artist. And my son, unfortunately, wants to become an animal trainer. And I have the some problem my father had with me, I can teach him nothing, because I know nothing about animals. He's 4 years old and he knows the names of all the elephants. I can't recognize one from another, I mean, they all look the same to me [Laughs].
Would he be the first Larible animal trainer?
Well, yes, if he proceeds. He's 4 years old, maybe he will change.
Is your wife a performer too?
My wife used to be a trapeze artist. When I met her in Germany, she was the star of the show, because she was at that time the only woman in the world that could perform a triple somersault. I was a little clown at the beginning of his career. We've been married for 20 years. She doesn't fly any more, she misses it.
I guess that's one of the advantages of clowning. Your career can last a little longer than some of the other performers.
If you think about it, I am a little bit the child prodigy of clowning. Because all the famous clowns of the past, they reached their fame all when they were over 50 years old [Larible is in his mid-40s]. From Emmett Kelly to Grok, to Lou Jacobs. Everyone was over 50 when they started getting famous. So I consider myself very young for this job.
We have this romantic idea of running away and joining the circus. But you grew up in the circus. Did you ever want to run away and join, say, an accounting firm?
No. It's very difficult when you grow up in this environment to have that desire. It happens. I have friends that have just left, and now they have jobs, but it never occurred to me. I was always fascinated not only by the lifestyle or the performing, but the feeling of living in the circus and being surrounded by any variety of people. I'm not only talking about skin color or religion, but even a midget or a giant, or whatever you are. In the circus, it sounds clich� but it's true, they are equal. You take a person for who he really is inside, and not because he is 35 inches or 7 feet tall. The values are different than in normal society. There is no prejudice in the circus. You are what you are.
But it's a tough life. And we have to deal with it everyday. The show we did last night? it's not just every night at [Madison Square] Garden and that's it. This morning at 10 o'clock we were all here, and all with the same energy. Of course everyone may be bitching back stage about being tired, but once the music starts, you see them there, there is that smile. I think that is what I love most about the circus — these people that can make magic happen day after day, show after show. I have a lot of respect for them.
You like to make the audience part of your act. And when you get the people out into the ring they seem to be transformed. They lose all their inhibitions. How do you explain that?
People today are not the same as 20 years ago. Everybody's a performer, everybody's a star. And they love to be there on stage. I get letters from people saying, "Oh David, that was the greatest moment of my life, to hear all those thousands of people laughing and screaming."
I still think I'd be frozen. I wouldn't know what to do.
That is my job — to make you comfortable, and play around. You have to let them be themselves and play around that. By now most people have seen me perform and they know that I'm not going to pick on them or ridicule them. It's not about me being smart and them being stupid. It's about having fun together there in the ring, and that's very important. The people trust me, that we're going to have fun together and that's a great feeling.
Do you think it helps that you don't wear a lot of make-up? There are a lot of people that are afraid of clowns
That is a problem. It's because they have this image of the American clowns with a big green wig. I mean let's be honest, they are scary. A clown should never lose his humanity. When the clown comes out you should never have to think that he comes from another planet. You have to connect with him. You have to see him and think, oh he moves like my uncle George, or he smiles like my friend Billy. You have to have a connection. A good clown should help teach people how to make fun of themselves, and not take themselves too seriously. Every time you have someone who takes themselves too seriously, some tragedy happens. Look at Hitler, look at Stalin and look at Osama bin Laden. They are all people that take themselves very seriously. You ever see Osama bin Laden make a joke about himself when he makes a speech?
So we need to figure out how to get Osama bin Laden to the circus?
I hope so. Bring him over here. And I'll take him for the knife routine. [laughing] And I'm gonna throw real knives at him.
You do two routines in the show. The rap music act seems to appeal to kids but in the other one, the knife throwing act, the humor is more sophisticated and seems more geared to adults.
A clown should always have something for everyone. The concept that clowns are for kids is not true. If you are a real clown, a professional clown, you should be able to entertain whatever audience you have in front of you.
A clown has to look around him and try to bring something contemporary, something with which people can connect. And that's one of the reasons that I created this gag. Rap is today. Rap is probably one of the biggest types of communication that we have in today's world. And also you cannot go wrong, because if you like rap, then you're going to like the gag. If you don't like rap, then you're going to like the gag because it makes fun of rap.
You are coming off a couple of seasons with Barnum's Kaleidoscape circus, which is a one ring circus. Most European circuses are one ring circuses, while Ringling Bros, and most American circuses are three-ring shows. How does that difference affect your performance, and do you have a preference?
They are two totally different things. Kaleidoscape was what it's like for a singer to give a concert with just a piano at Carnegie Hall. Ringling bros. is like that same singer giving a concert with a 22-member band at Madison Square Garden. It's hard to say what you enjoy most. In some respects I enjoy Kaleidoscape much more because it gave me an opportunity to show an American audience another side of me that they never could have seen because in the Ringling show it always bing, bing, bing, bing, be funny, be fast, and make them scream and laugh, and Ringling gives you that. When you have 16,000 people screaming and laughing while you perform, oh my god, it's an unbelievable feeling. But I also have a one man show that I take around to theatres all over the place, and I enjoy that immensely, too.
In Kaleidascape you perform with one other clown, Pipo, but you have very different approaches to clowning.
Pipo is a white-faced clown, in the way that white faced clowns were created in Europe. In Europe the white-faced clown is the straight man for the Auguste clown, which is what I am. The Auguste and the white face clown represent society. The white face clown represents the power, and the Auguste represents the people. He is the teacher, I am the student, he is the father, I am the son. Frederico Fillini used to say, "It doesn't matter how big and important you become, you're always going to have a white-faced clown above you to tell you what to do."
In the Ringling show, you're the top clown. There is no white face clown to tell you what to do.
No, but you have the ringmaster, and sometimes he'll come and he'll throw you out. Why? Because even if you're the star of the show, a clown should never be glamorous. It's never about himself. A clown should never come out and say, "Look how beautiful I juggle, or look how great I am on the trapeze."
What kind of relationship do you have with the rest of the clowns in the show?
It's a great relationship. I hang around with them all the time. Sometime people think there is a competition, but actually no. We play practical jokes on each other all the time. It's great. Clowns are happy people. There's a misconception that clowns are laughing in the ring and sad in real life, but it's not true. [But] I don't try to be funny 24 hours a day, because I think that's pathetic. Nothing is worse than someone who tries to be funny all the time.
Do you feel you have to save it for the show?
Well, yes. You have to do it whenever you feel it. If you feel nice and light and funny, well do it. But don't feel that you have to be funny or deliver all the time.
Just how crazy is Crazy Wilson?
When he performs he looks crazy, He's not crazy at all, because to do what this guys does, you cannot be crazy. You have to be someone that is well prepared. In the circus, the crazy people, the nuts, they have very short careers. The guy knows what he's doing. He's well-prepared and he works hard.


Ring Around the Clown

David Larible brings human touch to Ringling Bros.' first tent circus since 1956

Peter Stack, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 16, 1999
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ETATS UNIS

http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/1999/06/16/circus17.jpgLEA SUZUKI / SFC
Clown David Laribe stars in Ringling Bros.' one-ring show, "Barnum's Kaleidoscope," opening Tuesday at San Mateo County Expo Center. Chronicle Photo by Lea Suzuki
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In an age fraught with hyper entertainment and the mind-boggling reach of the Internet, ``how are you going to keep them amazed?'' asked the world's most famous circus clown.

``It's not enough for a clown to wear funny clothes -- everybody on the street does that. The one thing you can give is soul,'' said David Larible with a smile. He won the Golden Clown Award this year at the International Circus Festival of Monte Carlo -- clowning's highest accolade.

``To reach out as one person, even a silly person, to another person -- it is still a very amazing thing to do,'' said Larible, 42. ``And people still love it in spite of the attitude that they've seen everything there is to see.''

Larible, billed by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus as ``the world's most lovable clown,'' is acknowledged as one of the greats when it comes to reaching out.

He arrives in the Bay Area next week as star of the new ``Barnum's Kaleidoscape'' one-ring tent circus. Audiences will see a stocky, dimpled man whom they might at first think is an usher.

But soon that usher will emerge unmistakably as David the Clown, descended from seven generations of circus performers. He works with audiences, cajoling, touching, sitting with them, coaxing them into the spotlight. Sometimes he works with a sidekick, Pipo (that is Pipo Sosman of France, one of the world's most accomplished harlequins).

``We're bringing a wonderful show, full of human surprises,'' said Larible, in San Francisco last week in part to spread the word about the circus, which he helped create. ``Barnum's Kaleidoscape,'' which had its world premiere in Southern California last month, arrives Tuesday for a three-week run at San Mateo County Expo Center. It's the first time since 1956 that the huge Florida- based Ringling Bros. company, famed for three-ring extravaganzas and arena ice shows, has packaged a circus in a tent. (Ringling will also continue to operate its large shows in arenas, too.)

Leaving the frantic, glittering but sometimes overwhelming ``Greatest Show on Earth'' behind, Larible decided to become the central attraction of ``Barnum's Kaleidoscape,'' in its intimate red and white tent housing 1,850 velvet seats.

``It brings me closer to the audience. I feel we're all in the same place, and we can see each other's faces,'' he said. ``That's important to me.''

Though Ringling Bros. producers don't like to talk about it, their new show is clearly designed to compete with the ever-expanding Cirque du Soleil, which dazzles audiences with nouvelle panache, relying on tents but disdaining animal acts.

``Barnum's Kaleidoscape'' makes no bones about retaining an old-fashioned flavor: wacky acts with a touch of freak show -- like Istvan, the 27-inch-tall Hungarian man who works with a woman and her geese -- and corny glitz provided by acrobats and jugglers, a band of goofy musicians, a William Tell-like archery act and a sexy aerialist who doesn't use tethers or nets.

``We wanted something different,'' said Larible, who said he was once wooed by Cirque du Soleil.

``With `Kaleidoscape' we wanted to break out of the old seen- that, done-that mold. Audiences are changing. They want the personal touch.''

Doing a tent show does risk comparison to Cirque du Soleil, Larible said. But ``Barnum's Kaleidoscape'' is different, he said.

``I think Cirque is beautiful and great, but everybody moves in the same way.'' he said. ``Sometimes Cirque is a little mechanical, and if one guy hurts himself, they just put another guy in his place and nobody in the audience will ever notice the replacement.

``That's impossible in our show. Every character in the show is a major player. The show is full of surprises every night. We want spontaneity -- that's what circus is all about, that feeling that what is happening now is happening for the first time.''

If anybody's likely to make ``Kaleidoscape'' seem like an event night after night, it's Larible. Raised in Verona, Italy, he was primed to become a trapeze artist like his father, Eugene (who appeared on ``The Ed Sullivan Show'' in 1959), until he decided at age 10 to follow his own path.

Half his act is improvised every night. He sizes up the crowd, and things click in his mind. Sometimes it is sillier to be melancholy than jolly, so he follows that itch. ``I'm never sure where David the Clown will go, but I am always aware that the clown is the only person in the circus for whom there are no limits,'' said Larible, who speaks five languages and plays a dozen musical instruments. He incorporates some into his act, which is steeped in commedia dell'arte.

``My father was not happy about my choice to become a clown, and he humored me for a long time, figuring that it was just a child dreaming, like the kid who says he wants to be an astronaut,'' Larible recalled.

``When finally he realized I really did want to be a clown, he sat down with me and told me that it was the hardest thing in the circus to do. I had to know how to be an actor, a dancer, a mime, a juggler and a musician. But that was just the start.''

Being funny isn't always what makes a clown great, said Larible.

``Oh yes, you want to help people laugh at themselves, because that is the one thing that makes us free. But in the end what you want every night is for that family in the audience to feel like they want to take you home or have you over for dinner.''