The Search For Puddles

Postmodern Jukebox – a New York-based YouTube phenomenon – has created several memorable takes on modern hits but there is one that has really perplexed us: a video with a singing, 7-foot clown called Puddles. There’s very little information out there about Puddles. We used our investigative powers to get to the bottom of it.

The video, which is a cover of Lorde’s “Royals,”has nearly 4 million views since it was uploaded Oct. 31. Puddles – or, more formally, Puddles Pity Party – belts out the tune in a healthy baritone. And that’s all we really knew about it at the time. Digging deeper became an issue because Puddles is difficult to track down. He eventually responded to an email request for an interview but said he was busy. He suggested we talk to his “wingman,” a guy named Mike.

So we called Mike. Sorry – this is the best we could do.

Photo: Emily Butler

So you’re Puddles’ wingman?

Yeah, I’m just a guy who can find him. Puddles has other confidants who can find him depending on where he is. He’s always traveling around. I’m his guy today with you. I have a friend of mine Puddles also confides in but we try not to talk too much about Puddles because he speaks to us in confidence. So if Puddles finds himself in Fresno, you might be that guy, if you choose to be.

If he came to Fresno, Puddles might pick some guy and whisper in his ear?

Yeah, I might say, “Hey, I know this guy in Fresno” and he might show up on your doorstep! But he’s a good egg.

Well, where did he come from? How long has he been around? Where is he heading? Is he ever going to show up at festivals? Is he ever going to get an agent?

[I] first became aware, [of Puddles], toward the end of the ’90s. I was working in Atlanta, in a bar, and knocking around playing music, and he showed up late one evening the week before Halloween. He kind of hung around for a while and would do some performances here and there, and then he would disappear. He’s always kind of traveling, always got his suitcase with him.

Later he’d show up in different productions around town, whether it was with a band or in a burlesque show. He was this transient character and would just appear out of nowhere. And we became, you know, kind of intimate – as intimate as you can be with a transient character like that. What he’s intimated to me is he’s not heading anywhere but sort of heading everywhere.

At some point, hanging out in Atlanta, Puddles got introduced to the Adult Swim family over at Cartoon Network. They invited him to join them on a program they were traveling around. Puddles said he would show up and do some things. I kind of helped facilitate that. My wife Shannon and I are good pals with them. We write music for assorted Adult Swim projects.

They plugged him into the Aqua Team Hunger Force live show and he performed at a theatre in New York.  It was the Nokia Theatre at that time, now it’s the Best Buy.  And the promoter wasn’t aware that Puddles was going to be there, and promoters often like to know those things! So he was intrigued.

I, of course, heard all about this second hand but I try to keep track of all the things that happen to him. That way, when people like you find your way to me, I have as much information as I can.

So he performed there, and the promoter introduced himself and for a while became his wingman and Puddles’ confidant. He introduced Puddles around town, and Puddles performed at Sleep No More in Chelsea. And the word spread further. He wound up getting connected with the Moontower Comedy Festival in Austin and it just started blossoming.

That’s how he came in contact with Scott Bradlee from Postmodern Jukebox. He was performing at Sleep No More at the Manderley Bar in New York City and Scott ran the band there, and invited Puddles to do a little song project.

And Puddles said, “OK.”  He showed up one afternoon and they just played the song. Scott put it on YouTube and it just blew up.

Of course, Puddles just walked off that video shoot, walked down the stairs, out the front door, got on the train and kept on moving.

Where he came from before I met him is a bit of a mystery. He says he comes from a town called River City, but there are a lot of River Cities in the country. I think he’s there this week, visiting his mama.

As for the future – that was one of your questions, right?

One of many. I just want to unravel this mystery piece by piece.

I was just trying to catch you up on the history as I’ve gleaned from the things he’s told me. In terms of doing festivals and things like that, I had a conversation with him the day before yesterday and he’s interested in doing some things but he wants to write some music and he’s intrigued with animation.

As far as an agent goes, that’s something out of the creative realm so he’s not really sure about that. He’s just about being creative and meeting more people, and exploring the randomness of life.

It seems he’d be the type of performer who would be absent from the Bonnaroo lineup, but would emerge onstage with Pearl Jam.

Yeah!  You know, I heard a funny story the other day. This is probably second or third hand, so it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The “Royals” video has gone to a lot of interesting places. I heard there was a story that a musician was hanging out with Dave Grohl and they were showing him the video, and Dave goes, “Man, I saw that! That’s pretty crazy!”

So Puddles resonates with “that guy” going to work in Norman, Okla., and people like Dave Grohl as well. It shows how we’re all so similar.

But with the video reaching 4 million views, and you being his go-between, you’ve probably been in contact with a lot of interested parties.

I’ve been contacted by quite a few people. For example, the fellow in New York has been contacted about collaboration. Lots of bands, musicians, filmmakers and animators have been reaching out to Puddles. Most of it is just compliments and encouragement. To me, that’s an interesting reaction.

But has he given you any indication as to where he is heading?

He’s really intrigued with visual things and performances. There’s talk about a musical/theatrical show – a Fringe Festival thing. They’re shooting for Edinburgh [Scotland]. Or possibly touring Australia, doing Fringe Festival work down there. But that’s all on the horizon. The big thing right now seems to be just creating more music. There are a lot of people who want him to create products, but he’s just focusing on the art.

On his Facebook page, there are photos of him – in the middle of the day, on the street – getting his picture taken with fans.

Somebody forwarded me some photos of him. This is crazy: within a week I saw photos of him in Salzburg, Austria, on a subway in New York City and at Pike’s Market in Seattle.  People love to have their pictures taken with crazy things on the street, and Puddles was just popping up.

Wherever the wind takes him, he’ll head there. He may get distracted and go to the St. Louis Arch but two days later he’s in New Orleans.

Does he have a background in opera?

I think it’s the drama of life, not to be too heavy about it. He’s never told me he has a background in opera. He’s obviously a fan of Caruso and Pavarotti but he likes his Freddy Mercury too, and Ronnie James Dio, and Elvis.

So there are no hints to his next appearance?

The joy of a scavenger hunt isn’t in the finding, it’s in the looking. That’s the adventure. And when you’re looking, you discover other things.  The world we live in now is so outcome oriented. Everything is about this time, this place. I think there’s a lot of magic in not having those answers.  I don’t want to know; I want to be surprised.

If our readers are curious about who the heck I’m talking to, can you give them some background?

I’m Big Mike Geier. They call me “Big Mike.” I don’t know why. I’m a singer and messed around with acting for a little bit. I had a band called the Useless Playboys back in the ’90s and started a group in Atlanta called Kingsize.  I have a fun show called Elvis Royale.

We have a holiday show coming up called the Kingsize Jubilee, which is one of my favorite things to do every year. It’s on Dec. 21 at the Variety Playhouse. It’s a family show but we do some interesting takes on holiday classics. Santa Claus will be there, and the Dames Aflame Dancers – Atlanta’s version of the Rockettes.

And that’s what I do. I sing songs for people.

That’s probably as close as I’ll get to unraveling the mystery. Anything else?

Keep your eyes peeled. Keep an eye out on Puddles’ website, Facebook page and YouTube. He told me he’ll be releasing some new things in the near future – possibly in the next couple of weeks. 

You might be hearing from him via email – he might be pulling you into it as well!