Sad Clowns

Pride Favorite Puddles the Clown Sings in This Year’s John Lewis Christmas Advert

The John Lewis Christmas advert, an annual tradition in the UK that informally signals the beginning of the holiday season, aired its latest commercial on November 10. Each year, a guest artist will perform a cover song that often goes on to become a hit single, and this year’s track comes courtesy of a 7-foot clown, Puddles Pity Party.

Puddles Pity Party, aka Mike Geier, is an Atlanta-based artist who performs melancholy renditions of popular songs in full clown garb. He got his start in 1998, and on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent, he earned a standing ovation and rare praise from Simon Cowell for covering Sia’s “Chandelier.” 

Ahead of a performance at Philadelphia’s Pride event in 2015, he told Philadelphia Gay News, “I’m proud to perform at Pride. My show is all about fellowship.”

What is so appealing about a towering clown singing pop songs? Geier believes it is the sadness he expresses through familiar bops. “Sadness is everywhere,” he said. “Even happiness is sad, because it’s fleeting. No matter how happy you might be at one moment, you know it can’t last. That dog of yours is going to die someday, but that should not prevent you from enjoying canine companionship.

“We have to accept the sad with the happy. It’s just part of living. And it’s best not to stifle your sadness. If you can allow yourself to feel sadness, allow it to pass through you, you’ll feel better once you’re on the other side of it. It’s cathartic to cry it out when those feelings come over you.”

The John Lewis Christmas advert this year is a perfect fit for Puddles’ brand of melancholy. The tearjerker video follows a prospective foster parent struggling to learn how to skateboard in order to connect with his foster daughter. In the background, Puddles lends his baritone voice to a slowed down version of Blink 182’s “All the Small Things.”

Although he does not appear in person in the advert, his voice effortlessly carries the tone. But that’s not unusual for Puddles. Geier writes on the Puddles Pity Party website, “Puddles gives an emotive performance that resonates with all kinds of folks.

“The crowd really responds to him. There’s something about a giant sad singing clown that comforts us, let’s us know it’s ok to feel, to show our feelings. It’s a sad and beautiful world, and we’re all in it together, even when we’re totally alone.”

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