- Emily Butler
- Puddles Pity Party performs pop like Pagliacci.
There are some moments of reality TV that become iconic and help launch entire careers. Puddles Pity Party’s first appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2017 is one such moment.
On this particular episode, the nearly 7-foot-tall clown in a billowing white outfit and paper crown said nothing during his pre-audition interview. Onstage, he radiated a vulnerable, silent sadness that at first confused viewers.
But then he sang a haunting cover of Sia’s “Chandelier,” his deep baritone voice visibly surprising judges Howie Mandel and Mel B. After the song, the audience was stunned to see real tears in the big clown’s eyes.
Following the exposure of the talent competition, he gained hundreds of thousands of online followers. They form a community that Puddles affectionately calls “P3ers.”
Now Puddles tours regularly with his friend, Big Mike Geier (a fellow singer who, conveniently, is never seen in the same room as Puddles).
Puddles still doesn’t speak, but he graciously agreed to an email interview before his upcoming show at the Tower Theatre.
Oklahoma Gazette: You choose not to speak at your live performances. Why do you find it’s easier to sing your feelings?
Puddles Pity Party: I don’t talk much because I always seem to say the wrong thing. And I think there is so much talking in the world already. Words just sound better when put to music.
OKG: I heard that some of your early days were spent singing for crews on shrimp boats. What led you to decide to pursue performing more seriously as a career?
Puddles: That was my PawPaw’s boat. I realized that working on a trawler wasn’t for me. I’m so big, and I was always in the way. Since I was basically singing for my supper, I thought, “Why not go sing for my supper where they serve more than just shrimp?”
OKG: What do you find most inspiring about the songs you cover?
Puddles: I gravitate mostly towards emotive pop anthems. Sometimes it’s the melody, and sometimes it’s that perfect chord change that puts just the right amount of air under me and I feel like I’m flying.
OKG: What are some of your other interests and pastimes besides singing?
Puddles: I love to travel and meet new people.
OKG: I’ve seen you quoted as saying you want “less conversation” and “more action.” What do you mean by that?
Puddles: More doing and less talking about doing. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.
OKG: You got a lot of attention when you joined Postmodern Jukebox to sing a cover of Lorde’s “Royals” in a 2013 YouTube video, which went viral. What’s it like being Internet-famous?
Puddles: Viral videos travel across all borders. The Internet is like some kind of infinite highway. I get to meet people from all over the world. Every corner of the globe. Just today, I chatted with a P3er in Siberia. Isn’t that incredible? What a world!
OKG: A big part of your wider popularity grew out of your 2017 appearance on America’s Got Talent. What made you want to do the show?
Puddles: I put the question to the P3 community, and almost everybody said I should go for it. I’m glad I did. It was scary, but sometimes ya gotta follow your art into the deep end.
OKG: What was the best thing about performing for a broad television audience and judges like Simon Cowell?
Puddles: Well, the best part was making all kinds of new friends (backstage and around the world). It was nerve-wracking performing in front of judges, but they were really nice. Did you see Simon Cowell wink at me while I was on stage? He did! I thought I would spontaneously combust on the spot. Is spontaneous combustion even a thing? I hope not, ’cause it almost happened to me in front of 14 million viewers!
OKG: Some friends of mine saw you recently in Salt Lake City and really enjoyed your show. I hear you use a lot of props and get the audience to participate in your performance. Why do you think audience participation is important?
Puddles: Sometimes I need a helper with my show. So I ask someone in the audience to assist me and at first, they’re a little apprehensive. But they’re on stage, they knock it outta the park and the house goes bananas. There is no better feeling than that. I get weepy just thinking about it.
OKG: You travel a lot with Big Mike Geier, and you’ve known him since 1998. What is your friendship with him like?
Puddles: Let me tell you, he talks a lot! But I’m a good listener. And he always knows where to get a good cup of coffee. He’s a good egg, I guess. And very handsome.
OKG: What are you looking forward to the most about your trip to Okla-homa City?
Puddles: Definitely want to visit the American Banjo Museum and The American Pigeon Museum [& Library]. But mostly just looking forward to singing and meeting the 650+ P3ers at the Tower Theatre. Oh, and maybe have a cuppa soup or something with local legend Wayne Coyne. My treat, Wayne!
OKG: You’re coming to the Tower Theatre just before Halloween. Do you have any Halloween traditions? What’s it like to see more of your clown colleagues out in public around this time of year?
Puddles: I like to head down to my local Piggly Wiggly grocery store and smell the cinnamon brooms. I used to treat myself to a bag of mini Zagnuts and eat ’em in the car, but I don’t eat sugar anymore. So I’ll stick to sniffing cinnamon brooms. Clowns in public places? Of course, I’m all for it. Unless they’re the scary types. Those scary clowns can be intimidating. Maybe they just need a hug.
OKG: What do you want the audience to take away (emotionally, not literally) from your show at the Tower Theatre?
Puddles: I’d like for them to come away with a sense of fellowship. We’re all in this together, even when we’re alone.
OKG: What advice would you give to other aspiring singers?
Puddles: Just keep going! The more you sing, the better you’ll get at finding your voice.
OKG: Do you have any big professional plans for the near future?
Puddles: Film! Television! Broadway! Maybe even the Runway! (Working on a line of ThunderShirts for humans.)
OKG: Is there anything else you’d like Oklahomans to know about you or anything else you’d like to add?
Puddles: I refer to folks from Oklahoma as Oklahumans. I like to add black beans to my tossed salad and spinach to my morning oatmeal, and sometimes I’ll add an extra shot to my cortado!