The viral 2013 video of Puddles Pity Party covering Lorde's "Royals" (see below) propelled the "sad clown with the big voice" to national and international prominence. The man who channels Puddles and his operatic voice is Big Mike Geier, who makes an appearance at the Castle Theater in Bloomington March 26. At 6' 8", Geier IS big, something he acclimated to at an early age.
"I was five feet tall when I was five years old," said Geier. "I remember I went to see this movie with my brother who was a year younger than me. He wasn't as tall I was. I was 10 at the time. They charged me an adult price and I kind of had a panic attack."
Though he embraced towering over friends, he recalls being a loner of sorts, playing (and wanting to be) Daniel Boone in the rural Norfolk, Virginia suburb where he grew up. And of course teachers would try steering him into sports, admittedly not his cup of tea.
"I was terrible at basketball. It was shameful. Shameful," said Geier, almost admonishing himself.
That loneliness allowed him time to daydream and for his brain to spark. He recalls pretending to be interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, and affecting various accents.
"And they would say 'well you have this accent. Why do you have this accent?' And I would say 'Well I've been living in this country so long I just picked up the accent," he laughed at the recollection.
Imagining Geier's imaginary interview with himself somewhat foreshadows and gives context to understanding his depiction of how he met "Puddles" somewhere in the 1990's while tending a bar in Atlanta, Georgia.
"He showed up through the back door and sat at the bar. And plain as day, he was sitting there in front of me. He was silent and would motion for different mixtures of soft drinks. He didn't drink alcohol. He just stuck with me ever since then," said Geier.
Puddles tends to appear and disappear to Geier on an irregular basis, not unlike the grand entrances and exits he makes in public. Though he seems to be on an extended entrance since the viral "Royals" video.
"He's back," said Geier. "So I'm chasing him around and just trying to help him accomplish whatever he's trying to accomplish. And he seems to be connecting with people in a real interesting way."
And what itch does Geier the performer get to scratch by crawling into the clown he only refers to in the third person? Unlike the "take-charge" role while working with musicians and dancers performing his original Mike Geier's Elvis Royale!, where he evokes the spirit of Elvis, when Puddles shows himself, Geier follows the clown's muse.
"I get to work in a supportive role for something that's bigger than me, explained Geier. "So Puddles calls the shots and I try to make those things happen as best I can. That's great to me, that gets me out of the hot seat. I get a lot out of that."
Puddles Pity Party will bring nostalgia and fellowship to The Castle Theater March 26. Geier says Puddles will lend he operatic voice to familiar songs.
"And also fellowship not just among the audience and Puddles," said Geier, "but among the audience and themselves. Puddles invites the audience to participate in the show as well. So they get to play together and then they get to play with Puddles in the show. He just uses music to create that connection with the audience."
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