Joey – King of Clowns

A story of English clowning and comedy.

Autumn 2007

Joey - King of Clowns
Joey – King of Clowns

Joseph Grimaldi was the greatest pantomimist and clown of all time: every clown is now known as Joey in his honour. His physical and satirical humour is the foundation of all British buffoonery from Dan Leno and Stan Laurel to Basil Fawlty and Little Britain. The story is based on the Memoirs of Grimaldi edited by Boz, the pen-name of the youthful Charles Dickens. His colourful tale is full of humour, history and emotion. With live musical accompaniment, energy and slapstick, it depicts the story of English comedy for the last 200 years, connecting music hall, Monty Python and Royston Vasey to the Georgian era.
Joey – King of Clowns toured the UK in Autumn 2007.


“Here is a show to be admired, respected, enjoyed and cheered. Its value is immense. Tony Lidington has researched many strands of popular entertainment and performed in them. Popular? He much prefers the term ‘low brow’, said with a ready and mischievous twinkle. Now, Lidington is on stage as Joseph Grimaldi, the original Joey the Clown. He sits on a chair and reminisces, not yet 50 years old, but his body wracked with crippling pain. Then, suddenly, he is Grimaldi in his prime, singing a pantomime song and the audience joining in with the cheeky words. Thereafter, Lidington makes the audience, individually and collectively, part of the show.
Lidington has Gary Bridgens on stage with him as a willing stooge and in the orchestra pit is Jake Rodrigues, playing upwards of 30 bizarre instruments. The atmosphere is knockabout jollity, leavened with the melancholy in the clown’s heart. It is a heartening entertainment and instructive. Lidington explains the development of pantomime and of physical comedy without lecturing. We learn of the origin of the term slapstick and much else. Above all, we see Grimaldi’s importance. How he absorbed many skills and traditions. How he introduced his own ideas and then influenced the entertainers who were to follow. It is a compelling performance from Lidington, admirably structured and disciplined, yet played with enormous and infectious delight. Well done to the Georgian Theatre Royal. Producing this show is a statement of artistic intent and an affirmation of its heritage.” Kevin Berry of The Stage.

“This exhilarating and awe-inspiring production will make you laugh, cry and talk about the greatest clown of all time once again.” – Northern Echo

“Tony Lidington’s portrayal of Grimaldi is simply sensational, and the essence of Joey’s remarkable genius shines out of every scene.” – Keith Newton, Evening Gazette

“I laughed, I nearly cried and a lump formed in my throat. It was absolutely breathtaking.” – Mark Beamont, Bury Free Press

“Beautifully performed with such passion and attention to detail. Very touching, clever and funny, with great interaction. Loved every minute.” – Audience member

“It was absolutely sublime. Unique. We were mesmerised.” – Audience member