Grandma The Clown Bids Farewell To Big Apple Circus
At the finale of Sunday’s Big Apple Circus show, Grandma the Clown will be saying goodbye after decades of performances, but new opportunities lie on the horizon for the beloved entertainer. NY1’s Elizabeth Kaledin filed the following report.
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In a city full of celebrities, you probably wouldn't look twice at Barry Lubin as he walks down the street.
For 25 years he has delighted thousands of New Yorkers as Grandma the Clown, the face of the Big Apple Circus.
“I wouldn’t call it a role,” says Lubin. “It’s more of a croissant.”
The unassuming grandma was dreamed up by Lubin back in 1974. She was inspired by his own grandmothers and lots of senior citizens he observed on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City where he grew up.
The gag is deceptively simple: a man dressed as an old woman who seems somehow surprised to have wandered into the middle of a circus. Yet his signature gimmicks, like spitting water and dancing with audience members, have won over fans of all ages.
“To me, she is the Big Apple Circus,” says one fan.
The make-up routine takes about 10 minutes. There’s a little white face, a red nose, some lipstick, and a wig that could double as a Brillo pad.
Lubin's got it down to a science, but now he says it's time to move on.
“Leaving on a very high note,” says Lubin, “probably a ‘C’ or a high ‘A.’”
In addition to his Big Apple farewell, Lubin will soon be awarded the circus world's highest honor: being inducted into the Ring of Fame in Sarasota, Florida, home of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
“There aren't a lot of honors for clowns, and this isn't for my clowning, it's for my contributions to the American circus, and it just doesn't get any better than this,” says Lubin.
His fans, even teenage ones, are sad to see him go.
“Just the littlest things that make me laugh about her. It’s just so random and spontaneous. It's really great,” says one fan.
“I have so many mixed emotions,” says Lubin. “I will miss it so much.”