The Secret Life of Clowns: A backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil and The Clown Conservatory

"This book inspires from beginning to end: it captures the sweat, the sinew and the soul of clown."
~ Patty Gallagher, Professor of Theatre Arts, U.C. Santa Cruz

More than one million people saw Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo with Jeff Raz in the starring role. Every night after the show, Raz hurried back to the hotel to do his “day job” as the director of the only school for professional clowns in the United States. The Secret Life of Clowns was born from Raz’s attempts to take the principles he taught at The Clown Conservatory into the grand chapiteau in front of 2,800 Cirque du Soleil fans eight times a week. The form of the book is modeled on Constantin Stanislavski’s brilliant trilogy that brought the Moscow Art Theatre to the world through the eyes of a fictionalized student. Since Raz was simultaneously running a school and starring in a show, he has doubled up on Stanislavski with twin narratives - a fictionalized Clown Conservatory and a backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil.

Jeff Raz has drawn on his life’s work to write a pair of narratives — one following a professional clown joining a huge show, and one following a clown student who just wants a job in a circus. It’s a good book, and if you’re curious about the clowning profession, you’ll turn these pages.”
~ Bill Irwin, MacArthur “Genius” and Tony Award winner

The Snow Clown: Cartwheels on Borders from Alaska to Nebraska

Some artists thrive by taking risks, exploring unknown territory, living on the edge. The title character in The Snow Clown takes this literally, flying tiny planes out to Eskimo villages in the dead of winter to teach kids who have never seen a circus. The unforgiving tundra and triple-digit wind chill are the least of his worries as he navigates a world where traditional Yup’ik culture is fighting off TV America and missionary teachers.

Years later, the Snow Clown finds himself in Nebraska, America’s Heartland, performing a comedy about the Holocaust and his father’s suicide. It doesn’t go well. He is a Jewish artist out on the plains where Jews are as rare as buffalo but burning crosses are not. Using skills he honed on the Alaskan tundra, he writes plays with students that blow the lid off of “Nebraska Nice” and eventually get him run out of town.

Forget what you know about clowns. The Snow Clown brings to life a circus made to reflect, and reflect on, crossed borders. A thoroughly absorbing read.”
~ Zofia Burr, Dean, George Mason University Honors College; author Of Women, Poetry, and Power

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About Jeff Raz

Jeff Raz has performed nationally and internationally for decades, starring in circuses (Cirque du Soleil, Pickle Family Circus and more) and plays, including Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors on Broadway. He is a graduate of Dell’Arte International, has written 15 plays and has directed dozens of circus, puppet and theater productions. He co-founded Vaudeville Nouveau in 1982, the S.F. New Vaudeville Festival in 1985, The New Pickle Family Circus in 1993, The Clown Conservatory in 2000 and the Medical Clown Project in 2010. His first book, The Secret Life of Clowns, was launched at the Smithsonian in 2017; his second book, The Snow Clown, is hot off the presses. Jeff continues to write, perform, direct, and teach as well as work globally as a communications consultant with Stand & Deliver.

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Special Holiday SALE!

Both of Jeff Raz's books

Buy both of Jeff's books as holiday gifts for $20! Details here!

Reviews of Jeff’s Books

‘Wonderland’ directed by Jeff Raz

Business with Passion interview with Jeff Raz (2009)

‘The Bright River’ directed by Jeff Raz

‘Singing for Freedom’ Rose Ensemble, directed by Jeff Raz