Know Your Meme: Puddles, The Sad Clown With The Golden Voice

When the front desk at my apartment building called me to tell me that a very large clown was holding a sign with my name on it downstairs, I wasn’t concerned.  This was probably a great relief for them; indeed, there are few people that a desk clerk could encounter that would be more unsettling than a giant, silent, baldheaded, sad clown with a golden crown, an old suitcase, and a lantern.

“Send him up,” I said.  The sad clown was my buddy Puddles, and we were about to make one of the viral videos of 2013.

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Just some bros hanging.

I first met Puddles when I was working as the music director at Sleep No More, the immersive Off-Broadway show in NYC (check it out if you’re in NYC!).  Puddles was one part Andy Kaufman, one part Tom Jones.  He would typically begin his performances by standing silently for nearly five minutes, nervously scanning the room and trying to find the courage to sing.  The dramatic tension was unbelievable.  When Puddles did finally sing, he unleashed a glorious baritone voice that filled the room and elicited cheers from everyone.  I had never seen anything like this before; I just had to put him in a video.


Puddles at the Manderley Bar, where we first met.

Puddles wasn’t too familiar with Postmodern Jukebox or YouTube in general at the time, but he let me know in his own way that he was happy to contribute his talents.  Initially, I had picked “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake (I imagined him singing to his reflection), but then a new contender began climbing the charts: “Royals” by the critically-acclaimed New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde. It was almost too perfect: a song written by a 16 year old girl about being an outsider, sung by a giant sad clown.  There was irony in the title- sure- but beyond that, Puddles was the perfect character to convey this message; after all, he was the ultimate outsider.  I knew that it had so much potential to be an iconic video, and I took special care to ensure that the video preserved the spirit of the lyrics.


Download / Order “Royals” from our ‘Twist is The New Twerk’ album:

I billed Puddles as  the “Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” and released the video on Halloween.  It spread like wildfire. It made the front page of Reddit. News blogs shared it because of the Halloween / Stephen King connection.  YouTube itself promoted it as an example of a creative and unexpected cover.  The view count soared, and overnight, Puddles became a celebrity.

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Artwork by Cesar Rodriguez.

Since then, Puddles Pity Party has been busy touring the world (don't miss his upcoming Australian tour), but he's always made time to stop by for a visit.  Sometimes, he's giving new meaning to songs like Sia's "Chandelier..."


Download / Order "Chandelier" from our ‘Clubbin With Grandpa' album:

...other times, he's expressing existential angst alongside Haley Reinhart:


Download / Order "Mad World " from our ‘Top Hat On Fleek' album:

He even manages to surprise #PMJtour audiences with spontaneous visits from time to time.


Getting comfortable at PMJ's Best Buy Theater show.


Sneaking onstage with Casey Abrams and Adam Kubota. Photo by Emily Butler.

In some ways, Puddles was made for the modern Internet age. He’s a reflection of all of our loneliness and confusion in a world that sometimes seems to have grown increasingly lonely and confusing.  At the same time, he reminds us that there is greatness inside of each of us, and we needn't be afraid to show it off.  If you happen to cross paths with Puddles, overcome your coulrophobia and get to know him a bit.  You might just find that you've already walked a mile in his [size 16] shoes.


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For more of Puddles, check out his own YouTube channel here.

  • Paul Halicki

    Royals speaks of outsiders, but when I hear Lorde’s version, I see it as a youthful rejection of establishment values, almost triumphant. When Puddles sings it, it’s more of a song of missed opportunities or what might have been. As a middle-aged guy myself, I identify much more with Puddles’s version. It’s wonderful in several senses of the word.

  • richlost

    I was Kevin…..for one night

  • Anne Mckinney-page

    I love Puddles. He is the pasty-faced love child I never had. His great success has made me so happy for him, and Postmodern Jukebox.

  • ralph

    Puddles is da bomb (I think that’s what the young people say) here he is with my missus…and I got to sing for/to him in Edinburgh at the 2015 Fringe…

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  • Dr What

    Royals, Schmoils. I LOVE me some Puddles and that (Scott) Post Modern Jukebox gang, with that Amazing NEW / OLD sound. MORE COWBELL ! Ahhh, just kidding, MORE PUDDLES! There, NOT kidding.

  • Mark Shadley

    We experienced Puddles at the Fox in Pittsburgh a while back. Simply amazing.

  • marge201

    Scott, you’re a great writer and raconteur. Really enjoyed this and the music, of course, and pictures.

  • Allen Gilbert

    I actually found out about PMJ through Puddles. Me and a friend were talking about Royals and he asked me if I saw the Puddles version. I had never heard of Puddles, so he linked me to the video. I was immediately hooked on him, and then I watched the other PMJ videos. The rest is history.

  • Thomas Brenac

    Most PMJ fans know Mike Geier only in his role as “Puddles,” the sad giant clown. But, “Big Mike” is so much more. For starters, he’s President of Kingsized Entertainment (Avondale Estates, GA) which produces: “Bogey and the Viceroy, Elvis Royale, Dames Aflame, Tongo Hiti, Kingsized Holiday Jubilee, Puddles Pity Party,” etc. Mike stars in many of these productions, in only one of which does he dress as a clown.

    Mike has this to say about himself (from his website): ” I’m a singer, musician, an actor, announcer and a clown. Not necessarily in that order…. My mom, Peg, loves to sing although she is a bit shy about it. I got the singing gene from her I guess. ***** I’ve appeared on FOX, ABC, NBC, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner South, MTV, Playboy TV and PBS. I’ve been in a few movies, some theater, some television and many music concerts. I’ve sung with some big time acts and some small time acts. My wife and I write and record music, out of our Studio in Avondale Estates, GA, for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and anyone else who’s buying.”

    “Puddles” (Mike Geier) and (sometimes) “Monkey Zuma” (Shannon Newton, Mike’s wife) are characters in a performance piece called “Puddles Pity Party.” The artistic goal seems to be to make the audience more and more psychologically uncomfortable until the spectators realize that THEY are to be pitied and not the performer(s). Through skillful repeated use of tension and release (Geier’s fine singing voice provides temporary relief), “Puddles” (and sometimes “Zuma”) manage to taunt the audience for a whole show without alienating them. Indeed, Michael Geier (as Puddles the Clown) delights in poking fun at cheesy songs through over-the-top performances. He’s a disciple of the late comedian Andy Kaufman who specialized in taking his audiences outside their comfort zone.

    Mike’s performances with PMJ are dialed back — so much so that many are fooled into believing that his beautiful vocalizations, paired with his eccentric mannerisms, are sincere reflections of a troubled soul. Consider Mike’s rendition of “Chandelier.” For those who don’t know, “Chandelier” is an alcoholic, guilt-ridden party girl’s dramatic monologue set to music. It’s not just dramatic, it’s melodramatic. Some would even say it’s cheesy. That being the case, how could a giant, bald tenor-baritone get away with singing such a song? Easy; he’d just dress up as a sad clown, call himself “Puddles,” and persuade Scott Bradlee to provide a solid gold setting for this fake diamond of a musical number.

  • I discovered puddles awhile back and while Royals is absolutely awesome, my personal favorite song and video is “Hallelujah”(, ) I took a still from the video and made a little fan art from it. I’ve seen many folks cover this song but Puddles just owns it. I also love his cover of “Pinball Wizard” ( which is just a brilliant mashup of Johnny Cash and The Who. What a talented performer he is. And another amazing cover he does is Ray Charles “You Don’t Know Me” ( the song starts at 2:32. Thank You PMJ! For bringing together all these incredible talents and reimagining them in vintage style.

  • Александр Шахновский

    Love the Chandolier version. My kids watched all the time.

    Learned about PMJ from that video as well.

    Please come to Russia, St.Petersburg (about 300km from Helsinki 3hr30mins on train).

    Also, we have funny video of Kiesha Haddaway

    • Vladimir Krylov

      Bonya and Kuzmich rulez 😉

  • jsilvap

    I just can’t stop watching Royals over and over. It called my atention from the beggining. The whole mise en scene, those gorgeus ladies on backing vocals, (love them both) the musicians, and yes, that song was definetly made for Puddles. It’s better his version than the original one. Congrats to ya’ll!

  • Vladimir Krylov

    I hope he comes to your tour in Bulgaria. Last time (in May) I was so clowny sad about his absence ;(