An excerpt from Sawdust Is Thicker Than Water by Scott Linker
It’s now sometime in the late Autumn months, 1985. It’s too dark to see any passing scenery. The steady rhythm of the train feels relaxing, but I’m starting to get restless. Train runs are great for getting caught up on sleep and correspondence. I’ve done all that and I’m feeling a rare emotion for Circus performers, boredom.
Somewhere on our mile long train is a video copy of every movie that was ever made. Our boss Clown, Tom Parish and his wife Tammy, have a lot of classic comedies on video. They usually go overland, (by car), and generously let me enjoy spending some time with Charlie, the Brothers Marx, Buster, L&H and many other clowns.
Perhaps because of my mood, I didn’t feel like watching my old friends. I noticed a tape with something I’d never seen. Knight Duty, starring Harry Langdon. When I lived in New York I’d seen him in a movie directed by Frank Capra called Tramp, Tramp, Tramp. It co-starred a very young and pretty Joan Crawford. I liked the movie, but Langdon’s character seemed a little too simple for me at the time. Now ten, or eleven years later and realizing the best comedy is often stripped down to its simple essence, I had a new, old, celluloid hero.
As much as I’d studied and copied Harpo, Chaplin, Red and Stan Laurel, my Clown character had just as many similarities with Harry Langdon. The simplicity of my work, which sometimes made me feel a little transparent, was a surprising coincidence to me.
It took a few more video tapes and biographies, like Walter Kerr’s Silent Clowns, before I put two and two together and arrived at more than three. This was Harry, the baby-faced Clown my grandmother kept mentioning. The old video tapes I kept finding, often of varying quality, led me to finally purchase a t.v. and video player, after six years on the road. Everybody in Clown Alley asked me why I didn’t get one of those newfangled color t.v.’s. I reminded them that everything I wanted to see was in glorious black and white.
One can pick up a Kindle version of Sawdust is Thicker Than Water here.
Here’s another excerpt from Scott’s book!