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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Music

Singer Puddles Pity Party is happy being sad

Puddles Pity Party brings his big voice to the Bing Crosby Theater on Thursday. (Emily Butler Photography / Emily Butler Photography)
Puddles Pity Party brings his big voice to the Bing Crosby Theater on Thursday. (Emily Butler Photography / Emily Butler Photography)

Don’t be alarmed if you see a 6-foot, 8-inch clown wandering around Riverfront Park on Thursday.

That’s just Puddles Pity Party. He’s never been to Spokane before, but he’s heard about the Garbage-Eating Goat and is eager to explore.

“The Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” will be in town to perform at the Bing Crosby Theater.

In 2012, Puddles performed with Seattle’s Teatro ZinZanni, and he’s worked with YouTube sensations Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox multiples times, covering everything from Lorde’s “Royals” and Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” to Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” and Blink-182’s “All the Small Things.”

But the world at large came to know the story of the sad clown with a booming baritone voice last year when he auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.”

During his audition, Puddles slowly made his way to the center of the stage, carrying a suitcase with his name written on it in one hand and a small lantern in the other.

After confirming judge Mel B’s assessment that he looked sad, Puddles began to perform a cover of Sia’s “Chandelier.”

It took the audience a few moments to get behind him, but as he launched into the song’s chorus, the crowd, still a little confused as to what they were witnessing, started to cheer, eventually giving him a standing ovation.

Puddles was clearly overwhelmed by the response and began to cry as the judges deliberated.

“Puddles, it was very unexpected, very original, very different,” Heidi Klum said. “I want to see more.”

“What I love about you, this is originality at its best …” Simon Cowell said. “I think you’re fantastically brilliant.”

With “yes” votes from all four judges, Puddles left the stage with a spot in the next round firmly secured.

“You don’t judge a book by its cover,” Cowell said as Puddles made his exit.

Puddles was eliminated in the quarterfinals, but his brief appearance on “America’s Got Talent” was all it took to charm the world over.

Since appearing on “America’s Got Talent,” Puddles has toured extensively across North America and the U.K.

“Every audience is different,” he said in an email. “The one thing they seem to have in common is their willingness to be part of something. Fellowship is universal.”

Puddles knows some people are afraid of clowns, but said most people who attend his shows are already on board.

“If someone is not, it doesn’t take long for them to get into the fellowship,” he said.

Puddles likes to use his platform to clear up misconceptions people have about clowns, the biggest one being that they have webbed feet, no body hair and can breathe underwater.

“I can tell you right now that none of that is true,” he said.

And clowns like to cook. Or at least Puddles does.

On a recent travel day to a show in Oklahoma, Puddles cooked his team a vegan red lentil and wild mushroom picadillo with Moorish spices.

“It smells heavenly in here,” he said.

Before shows, Puddles said he drinks coffee, chews gum and does his nails, which, considering he wears white gloves when he performs, must be more for personal hygiene than his onstage appearance.

The almost always silent clown also talks to a “select few P3ers,” referring to those who purchase a Premium Pity Party Pass, which includes early admission, pre-show Puddles Cuddles with Coffee ‘n’ Croonin’ and an exclusive VIP3er souvenir.

(What makes for a good Puddles Cuddle? “2 consenting individuals.”)

Then, it’s showtime.

Puddles’ concerts feature covers and what he calls smoosh-ups, or mashups of two different songs by, usually, two very different artists.

Smoosh-ups from Puddles’ YouTube channel include ELO’s “Telephone Line” and Adele’s “Hello,” Queen’s “Under Pressure” and “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen,”; and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and the Who’s “Pinball Wizard.”

“I’ve got a couple of (original) tunes that I’m doodling with,” he said. “But mostly I love lending my voice to so many beautifully penned songs in the tradition of my favorite song stylists like Sinatra, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick and Elvis.”

When choosing songs to cover, Puddles said the song has to “have the feels.”

“Sometimes the feels are hidden within, and I look for the key to release them,” he said.

In a sense, Puddles’ shows are all about the feels.

He’s proud to be a sad clown, and he tends to sing more somber songs.

When asked if he sees his shows as a way of letting people know it’s OK to experience emotions, happy or sad, he agreed.

“If I were to have a message, I guess that would be it right there,” he said.

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