We’re Not Clowns is back for 20th anniversary show in Steamboat Springs | SteamboatToday.com

We’re Not Clowns is back for 20th anniversary show in Steamboat Springs

Andrew Pratt juggles during The Journey Ahead program, which took place at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs earlier this month. Pratt joined Scott Parker, both original members of We're Not Clowns, to entertain the group with their juggling skills, humor and creativity.

— Sitting upstairs at the Chief Theatre in downtown Steamboat Springs, the three stooges burst out in laughter.

Surrounded by archived photos, posters, newspaper clippings and miscellaneous memorabilia, Scott Parker, Andy Pratt and Kelly Anzalone — the trio that makes up We’re Not Clowns — are transported back in time to the moment unfolding on the computer screen in front of them.

Anzalone's head was about to catch on fire — on accident, of course.

"Our shows are not very far away from our actual lives," Anzalone said. "It’s more natural and a lot easier to find the comedy in our daily lives. There's a lot of it."

"At one of our shows, you wouldn't just watch a juggling show," Parker added. "It was a theatrical production with characters like Professor Pratt, who ran the physics of juggling department with his interns."

Flashback to April 14, 1997, Tyler Arroyo, former photographer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, was driving by and took a photo of Parker and Anzalone at one of their first "official" gigs as We're Not Clowns.

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And now, 20 years later, it's time for a reunion. We're Not Clowns is returning to the stage for a 20th anniversary show at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chief Theater.

"They were known to break that fourth wall and interact with the audience," said Cody B, who saw We're Not Clowns for the first time at the Seventh Street Playhouse. "They had this really cool dynamic that would follow a storyline on video then in real time they would bust out on stage as a logical continuation of the story. As an 11-year-old, it was really cool to watch that happen."

We're Not Clowns are not just jugglers. They write their own skits and original songs as well.

"Sometimes people need a break from the juggling," Pratt said. "It's a very intense thing. “As an audience member, you don't want the guy to drop anything, and you also don't want to miss anything. You have to be very actively engaged. But we offer breaks. We tell jokes, we mess with each other, we do magic."

After Parker and Anzalone moved to Steamboat from upstate New York in 1996, they ventured west to follow the Lewis and Clark Trail and create "Nature's Web."

Inspired by "The Journals of Lewis and Clark," their trip allowed them to perform at schools along the trail but also have the children of Routt County follow along online and have a chance to ask other fourth graders about the Lewis and Clark Trail via live blogging.

"People associate juggling with being clowns, and we kept having to tell people, ‘no, we're not clowns,’" Parker said. "The name was catchy, and it stuck."

In 1998, the two returned home and joined forces with Pratt, another upstate New York transplant after he moved to Steamboat.

In addition to their juggling antics and sidesplitting routines, the three are involved with other theatrical endeavors — acting, writing skits and directing anything from Cabaret to Skit Town Productions and Pirate Theater.

We’re Not the Clowns has also incorporated education into the mix because juggling is a great model for teamwork and communication, Parker said.

"These guys have been so influential to the theater and comedy community that is present here," said Gina Wither. "They embody the fun, improv light side of performing arts in this town, and they appeal to the young and the old."

Now that each of the performers has a life outside the theater with Parker serving as executive Director of the Chief Theater, Anzalone running his own business, KPA Productions, and Pratt working as a software developer in Denver, the three decided it was time to take We're Not Clowns to the next level.

Pratt said the group has hired a coach out of Boulder who is a successful juggler there.

Their collective vision is to perform for a living at various events, motivational conferences, workshops and more.

"We're all at a point now where we can see this fitting into our lives more and taking each component of the performance up a notch," Pratt said.

But for all three, performing, juggling, teaching and fostering support for a theater community is not just a job, it's fun.

"Get people you really enjoy hanging out with, and I think that's part of the reason why this has been so successful for so many years," Anzalone said

"We're just good friends hanging out, having a good time," Parker said. "It doesn't matter what we're doing as long as we're enjoying it, and the audience picks up on that. We've always been ourselves, with a very loose character, but it's always been us improving, having a blast and making fun of each other if one of us fumbles a line or tells a joke wrong."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

Five things to be on the lookout for during We’re Not Clowns’ 20th anniversary show:

  1. The return of Professor Pratt
  2. New improved jokes from Scott Parker
  3. A video stroll down memory lane.
  4. New props! Will they be sharp? Glow in the dark? Or perhaps both!
  5. An amazing slide show capturing 20 years of silliness

If you go…

What: We’re Not Clowns 20th anniversary show

When: 7 p.m., Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20

Where: Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave.

Tickets: $10 available at chieftheater.com or All That, 601 Lincoln Ave.

We’re Not Clowns fun facts:

Shared the stage with:

David and Leeman (finalists on America’s Got Talent)

Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater

The Gizmo Guys

The Ditty Bops

Kip Attaway

The Samples

Jon Armstrong

MCs of Comedy Night at the Chief Theater

Where you might have seen us…

Silver Medal winners at the 2000 International Juggling Association competition and convention in Montreal, Canada

Open stage performance at 2001 European Juggling Convention in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Strings Music Festival, Steamboat Springs

Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge

Winter Fest, Beaver Creek

Kidspree, Denver

We’re Not Clowns timeline

1985: Andrew Pratt’s best friend’s father is president of the International Jugglers Association

1985-1991: Pratt juggles a lot and attends many juggling conventions

1987-1991: Pratt and Scott Parker attend the same high school. Sadly, Parker does not know how to juggle at this time.

1991-1995: Kelly Anzalone and Pratt become friends in college, and Pratt teaches Anzalone how to pass clubs.

1995: Anzalone meets Parker and teaches him how to juggle.

1995-1996: Anzalone and Pratt have get some juggling gigs in Buffalo, New York, prior to moving to Steamboat Springs.

1996: Parker and Anzalone move to Steamboat.

1997: Parker and Anzalone have their first gig as We’re Not Clowns, a birthday party for Suzy Ford on April 14.

April to June 1998: Parker and Anzalone re-trace the Lewis and Clark Trail from Great Falls Montana to Astoria, Oregon, and then ride the the last 900 miles on bikes in 18 days, juggling in schools along the way and teaching teamwork and goal setting.

March 1999: Pratt moves to Steamboat.

Summer 1999: We’re Not Clowns rents the Seventh Street Playhouse and produces their first full-length show, “The Big Show.”

January 2000: We’re Not Clowns performs their second show at the Seventh Street Playhouse, “The We’re Not Clowns Professor Pratt Physics of Juggling World Tour 2000.”

May 2000: Parker, Anzalone and Pratt make their first appearance in Cabaret and perform their “check writing skit.”

2000: We’re Not Clowns performs their third full length production at Seventh Street Playhouse, “Episode III.”

July 2000: We’re Not Clowns wins silver medal at International Jugglers Association competition in Montreal Canada.

July 2001: We’re Not Clowns performs first of 10 different shows for Strings Music Festival.

Summer 2001: We’re Not Clowns goes to Europe, performing in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Paris and Sweden.

2001 to 2004: We’re Not Clowns performs in theaters, schools and festivals across Colorado.

2005 to 2008: Anzalone and Parker open the Steamboat Mountain Theater in Ski Time Square.

2007 to 2013: Parker disappears from the map — rumor has it he moved to Buffalo and then Phoenix.

2013: Parker returns triumphantly to Steamboat to become chief of the Chief.

2013 to 2017: A blur.

May 2017: A 20th anniversary show.