The Tragic Life of London’s Favorite Clown

March 17, 1828. The celebrated clown, Joseph Grimaldi, rises from his sickbed. Once London’s most energetic performer, he’s gradually been crippled by decades of pratfalls and acrobatics. He can barely manage the short walk to Sadler’s Wells theater, where he’s about to star in a final show. Grimaldi dresses backstage as if he’s in a daze, burdened by a lifetime of personal sorrows. And yet, when the curtain rises, he’ll summon the old strength. He’ll entertain this last of his countless audiences and send them home happy – unlike the clown himself. Who was Joseph Grimaldi? And how did he blend humor, irreverence, and humanity to fundamentally change comedy?

Special thanks to our guests, Andrew McConnell Stott, author of The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain’s Greatest Comedian, and Naomi Shafer, Executive Director of Clowns Without Borders USA.

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