Clowns Around

We participated in our personal Fear Factor today. There were no plates of sheep testicles or coffins full of rats. We didn't jump from a tall building or climb giant monkey bars far above a body of water. We did, however, pick up a phone and call a clown. And not just any clown, but a clown whose new gig is running a puppet theater--two fears in one. And, though making the call was hard, we're better for it. Tiffany Riley, aka Slappy, wasn't scary. She was nice, knowledgeable, articulate, funny and patient--all qualities other clowns might have as well, if only we'd stopped and smelled their water-squirting flower instead of bookin' it in the other direction.

Slappy and business partner Dick Monday (a fellow clown and her husband) debut Slappy's Puppet Playhouse at the Galleria this week with three weekly performances of puppet shows and one weekly clown and variety show. The Little Mermaid, the premiere puppet show, might look a bit familiar. Some of the performers and puppets come from NorthPark's La Theatre de Marionette. The clown/variety show features Slappy and Dick Monday in a show Riley describes as "very European," meaning it combines acting, dancing, singing and other arts.

Plus Riley promises something for everyone, from little kids to older kids, right up to parents, who are often bored by children's entertainment. That promise also includes our fellow coulrophobes. "We don't wear a lot of makeup," she says. "We're not big. We don't wear the huge Bozo-esque wigs and clothes. We're more like characters who are funny and just happen to be clowns. We try to put people at ease that way." Maybe it's not too late to trust a clown.


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