The wicked little twist in Puddles Pity Party's Orlando show is the surprising drama

by

comment
Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Puddles Pity Party, Plaza Live, Feb. 28

In concept, Puddles Pity Party is unabashed in its contrivance. Oh, but what a grand conceit it is. An NBA-sized clown with a satin voice is as indelible of an impression as they come. Nothing's wrong with a gimmick if it works. And the execution of this character is art.

Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
The crooner clown persona of Atlanta's Mike Geier has become a cult phenomenon. His show is a fresh neo-vaudeville mix of audience-engaging pantomime skits and renditions of popular songs. Given the scheme, though, the results can often be more theater than camp.



Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
With a ranging covers repertoire that included Bowie, Tina Turner, Cheap Trick, Johnny Cash, Styx, Orbison and the Pixies, the singing of this modern-day pop Pagliacci isn't just some Top 40s burlesque.

Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
There were plenty moments of levity but, mostly and most memorably, Puddles delivers these canonical hits with slow deliberation and noir resonance. He injects such deep pathos and majesty that it can be an eerily moving performance. That it's cast in the warped light of a sad clown only makes it more intriguing.



Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
In fact, the clown routines, though of good quality, are low-hanging fruit in the totality of Puddles' show. His best magic is coaxing surprising new emotion and depth from timeworn songs. When he hits it right, it's a revelation that's the arresting opposite of comedy. And nailing you with real poignancy when he's set you up for folly is the most amazing trick of all. Seriously, a simple cabaret version of Puddles' show would be enough to satisfy real music fans.

Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
That said, one particularly mischievous gag where he shuffled the phones of people recording him mid-song throughout the audience was subversive and brilliant, causing an ad hoc lost-and-found to break out at the foot of the stage after the song to reunite phones with owners.

Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live
In aggregate, there's nothing else like the reaction between studied clown craft and genuine singing artistry at Puddles’ performances. The juxtaposition – between humor and drama, classic and contemporary – yields a pretty singular gestalt. And it all adds up to a master expressionist.

Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Puddles Pity Party at the Plaza Live

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


Get our top picks for the best events in Orlando every Thursday morning. Sign up for our weekly Events newsletter.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.