Puddles would rather sing than talk

EMily Butler Photography

Janelle Faignant
THE ARTS

During a recent episode of the NBC reality show, “America’s Got Talent,” a nearly seven-foot-tall clown named Puddles took the stage. He stood silent as the judges tried to ask him questions, because Puddles doesn’t speak. He sings. He belted out a baritone, deconstructed, heartfelt rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier” that surprised everyone.

“This is originality at its best,” Simon Cowell said.

“Puddles Pity Party” is the persona of 53-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch singer Mike Geier, an Atlanta-based performance artist affectionately known as “Big Mike.” As Puddles, he embodies a sad but lovable clown whose melancholy is surprisingly uplifting. His live act of cabaret covers of popular songs has become a cult hit and is often sold out.

“Puddles Pity Party” comes to Rutland’s Paramount Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Puddles is not a shallow, horn-honking, balloon-animals kind of clown. Puddles is deep. You can see it in his eyes and hear it when he sings.

“We’re constantly being pressured by others to put on a smile, even when we’re not happy,” Geier told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s OK to be sad and wallow for a while. Indulging in a pity party can be cathartic. Once you’ve cried it out, a weight is lifted from your spirit. If someone wants to go to an ‘All Happy All The Time Party,’ I’m sure they’re throwing one right now over at Dave & Buster’s. But those who want to explore the deeper depths of the feels will find fellowship at a ‘Puddles Pity Party’.”

In response to an interview request, one of his managers said Puddles never breaks character, and Geier only talks about Puddles in the third person, as if they’re friends.

“Attached are Puddles’ answers to your questions,” another member of his team wrote in his reply email. “Please note that these are answered directly by Puddles and not his friend Big Mike.” Here is a sample:

What is a typical day like for you?

“I’ll roll outta my bunk around sun-up. I’ll pound down 48 ounces of water right away. It wakes up my guts. I then do my stretches. Coffee after that. Then I … you know … After that depends on where I am in the world. I usually like to find some dogs to frolic with. Maybe catch a matinee Costner flick. Sing a show. Meet with my peers for post-show cuddles. Hopefully pie is in there somewhere. Then hit the rack. Then get up all over again.

Did you have a career role model?

“Abraham Lincoln.”

Have you had singing lessons?

“Not one lesson. I did watch a few YouTube videos of some opera guy. My mee maw said I came outta the oven singing.”

Do you have a favorite song to sing?

“Happy Birthday!”

What gives you hope?

“Cuddles. Coffee. Pie. In that order.”

What is your astrological sun sign?

“You hittin’ on me? It’s working …”

“Talking has its place for some. But I tend to put my foot in my mouth,” Puddles wrote in a Los Angeles Times email interview two years ago. “I’d rather sing it than say it. Singing is my thing.”

Paramount Theatre

“Puddles Pity Party” comes to the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St. in Rutland, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11. Tickets are $25-$30; call 802-775-0570, or go online to www.paramountvt.org.

 

Janelle Faignant

Janelle Faignant is a freelance writer living in Rutland.

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