Lam Thuy Vo/NPR
Host Ophira Eisenberg (left) interviews Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom, a.k.a. Big Apple Circus' Acrobuffos, during a taping of Ask Me Another in Brooklyn, NY.
Host Ophira Eisenberg (left) interviews Christina Gelsone and Seth Bloom, a.k.a. Big Apple Circus' Acrobuffos, during a taping of Ask Me Another in Brooklyn, NY. Lam Thuy Vo/NPR
Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus
Just clownin' around. Bertrand Guay/Big Apple Circus
Have you ever wanted to run away with the circus? This week's Ask Me Another V.I.P.s literally did. The Acrobuffos, a.k.a. Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, met while performing in Afghanistan, formed bonds both in comedy and in love, and now co-headline the premiere clown gig in America: The Big Apple Circus.
Sporting complementary blue and purple coifs, the pair joins host Ophira Eisenberg to explain how they found their unlikely professional calling as practitioners of Commedia dell'Arte, or masked comedy — Seth attended three different clown colleges, Christina only one (Princeton). Their act, which you can watch in the video below, is largely non-verbal (so as to play internationally) and extremely physical, taking advantage of audience interaction as well as one of Christina's attributes that's, well, exaggerated.
From the interview, it's clear this duo shares more than just the ring at the Big Top. Which is exactly why we mess with that camaraderie by pitting them against one another for an Ask Me Another Challenge that's all about clowns and circuses. There's singing and laughter, plus a whole lot you didn't know about the life of a circus performer.
About The Acrobuffos, Seth Bloom & Christina Gelsone
Seth and Christina met at a circus in Afghanistan, were engaged while street performing in Scotland, and married in China where Christina wore a dress made of little white balloons. Since becoming clown partners in 2006, they have created five shows together, competed in international circus festivals, performed in over 18 countries, juggled on the Late Show with David Letterman, and were featured in The New York Times. Seth is a former professional juggler who makes each clown mask by hand, and Christina was a professional ballerina before becoming a clown. Her character, Madame, is based on an actual 19th-century clown painted by Toulouse-Lautrec. You can follow Seth and Christina's clowning adventures, including with the Big Apple Circus, by visiting their Tumblr page.
Watch Seth and Christina in full regalia, performing as The Acrobuffos.
This segment originally aired on January 18, 2013.