Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Glen Heroy


Glen Heroy

Glen Heroy

Circus clown

Glen Heroy comes to the Big Apple Circus a seasoned, successful clown. He's studied theater at SUNY New Paltz, played a Macy's Santa Claus for 12 years, is a clown in residence at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, and is a clown with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program. But Heroy is also "first of May," circus jargon meaning he's never performed under the bright lights of the big top before.

"Coming in as a newbie is so hard," says Big Apple Circus Guest Director Steve Smith. "The biggest challenge for Glen was to play in a ring ... the dynamic is much different. It's hard to do that 360-degree turn that allows him to play to every section, to acknowledge everyone."

During his inaugural season, Heroy strives to nail various clown characters, including the Lead-a-Band act originated by Big Apple Circus Founder Paul Binder. And he struggles with a string of bad luck, including a mold infestation in his trailer and a painful injury that threatens to end his season early.


"The crash-and-burn factor can happen at any time. But we're not splitting an atom; we're not finding a cancer cell. We're spending seven minutes to act like an idiot to make someone laugh."

Three Questions:

Is it hard maintaining a marriage while on the road?

"The tour saved my marriage. I've never appreciated Barbara more. My greatest day last year was when Barbara drove up to Walden to pick me up to take me home after the tour. We loaded up the car and she took me out for ice cream."

You mention in the documentary that you suffer from bad luck. Has that ever informed your clown persona?

"I will walk around dog crap so as not to step in it and fall into an open manhole. That's me and that's my clown. My clown is me at my most vulnerable. My clown is so round that when he gets angry it's just silly, and when he gets sad it's just heartbreaking: part Jackie Gleason, part Art Carney. I wear gray as if I stepped out of an old movie. Having a red nose and cheeks means that warmth generates from my face. Simple, really."

How did you and the rest of the circus crew stay in shape on the road?

"I live an active lifestyle but I am in no way in shape by circus standards. (My tour) was just a year, and I was thinner on the road from sweating so much. Everyone always seemed to be stretching all the time. Really annoying."

Related Links:

Meet Glen Heroy

Circus clown Glen Heroy is starting his first season with the Big Apple Circus. He talks about realizing his dream of performing in the ring and how he tries to project his clown persona while performing.