Puddles Pity Party Is Taking on Reality TV — And Putting Mileage on His Clown Shoes

Puddles Pity Party will turn up the sad to 11 during his performance on Tuesday, June 13, at Mesa Arts Center.
Puddles Pity Party will turn up the sad to 11 during his performance on Tuesday, June 13, at Mesa Arts Center. Courtesy of Red Light Management
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: A 7-foot clown walks into a bar, armed with a suitcase and a setlist of the world’s saddest songs to perform. If you thought of Puddles Pity Party, chances are you may have seen him the last few times he came to Crescent Ballroom.

Now, he returns bigger, better, and sadder than ever to perform at Mesa Arts Center on June 13, his first all-ages performance in the Valley.

“Some of the younger P3ers can finally experience the Pity Party and cry it out with us old folks,” Puddles says. “We welcome the young bicentennials.”

Opening the doors to a younger audience bodes well for Puddles, who has gained a following online with videos highlighting his golden voice and endearing melancholy.

And he’ll likely see a swarm of new fans, thanks to the current season of America’s Got Talent. He auditioned for the reality competition singing Sia’s “Chandelier.” He made it through the first round — with a standing ovation from Simon Cowell, no less.

New Times spoke with Puddles via email (he chooses to remain silent when he isn’t singing) about his favorite Phoenix creatives and what to expect from the show.

For someone who hasn't seen you before, how would you tell them to prepare before the show?
I would suggest that they leave their preconceptions at the door and allow themselves to be surprised. They can participate or just be quiet observers; it’s entirely up to them. But it’s more fun if you go with it and take part in the fellowship. We’re all in this together, you know.

Can you share some of the songs you'll be performing?
I’ve added some new tunes to the set since my last visit to Phoenix. I’ve been releasing new videos each week on my YouTube channel, singing fan requests. So there is a lot of material to choose from lately. Of course, I’ll still perform some of the crowd favorites. I don’t want anyone bummed out that they didn’t get to hear their favorite song. But it’s tough to decide which songs will make it into the 90-minute set. If I could perform them all, I would. But after three hours, it would just turn into “irritainment,” and nobody wants that.

Are there any artists from Phoenix you'd ever want to collaborate with?
Phoenix is a hotbed of creativity. I follow Sarah Russell, who is an amazing painter and illustrator and entertaining vlogger. And I’m a huge fan of super-creative power couple Garth Johnson (curator at ASU Art Museum) and Claire Joyce ( I haven’t gotten to explore the local music scene much. But I’m sure there are lots of talented musicians in your vibrant city. I’m always up for collaboration — and coffee!

A lot of your fans find you online. What's your favorite way to connect with them?
It’s hard to keep in touch, with the hustle and bustle of life being what it is. But I’m grateful for the social media doo-dads like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Yelp that allow us to check in on each other once in a while. When I need encouragement, it’s good to know I can fire up the interwebs and feel the love of all the P3ers. Of course, my favorite way to connect with fans is Puddles Cuddles after each show. Nothing beats a free hug!

Now that you've been to Phoenix a few times, do you have any destinations you like to hit while you're in town?
Sadly, I’m never in town long enough to really get to explore. But I’ve been there enough times to develop a hankering for the hearty veggie burrito bowl at the Crescent Ballroom. And I think Café Tranquilo has THE best salsa trio I’ve ever encountered. If they’d bottled that, I’d keep it in my suitcase and travel the world all salsa’d up 24/7! I don’t know if I’ll have time, but I hope to squeeze in a visit with my friend Calista the Pittipotamus and the gang at MayDay Pitbull Rescue.

What else can we expect from you this year?
I’ve never been very good at New Year’s resolutions. It’s tough just getting out of bed sometimes. But I am trying to get my steps in and see more of this crazy world. They say your destiny is the mileage on your shoes. I’m hoping to bring the Pity Party to some new places and find some good coffee shops along the way.

Puddles Pity Party comes to Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street, at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13. Tickets are $30.

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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris