Clown, Mime, Producer
By Dominique Jando
When César Aedo attended Sunday school in Lima, in his native Peru, the priest who taught him entertained his pupils with silent one-reelers of Max Linder, Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton. This is why César eventually decided to become a silent comedian. After completing a B.A. degree in Sociology at the Universidad Nacional Federico Villareal, he went on to perform on street corners as a mime throughout Central and South America to pay his way to Europe, where he intended to study Political Science.
He eventually landed to Paris, but a series of events prevented him from enrolling immediately in a university, and he continued to earn his living on street corners. At the end of 1979, he went to Geneva, Switzerland, to visit his sister. After a few weeks there, he had made his mind: Instead of Political Science, he would study mime in Paris—with the Master, Marcel Marceau, who had just opened his Ecole Internationale de Mime.
César stayed three years with Marceau, studying ballet and acrobatics at the same time, and still performing on weekends and in the summer to make a living. After graduating in 1983, he went to take classes with "God" himself, Marceau’s own venerated teacher, Etienne Decroux— recognized the world over as the "Father of Modern Mime." He also studied clowning with another famous teacher, Philippe Gaulier.
César appeared in various theater productions and mime festivals in Europe, but he continued his learning experience on street corners, mostly in Paris, where he worked at the same time as two other street performers who would make quite a name for themselves, David Shiner and Peter Shub. It is on a street corner that he was spotted by Louis Knie—which led to a contract for a season with Circus Knie in 1985.
In 1987, César came to the United States to further study acting and dancing at Harvard University and at the Lee Stasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City. He continued to support himself performing on street corners, becoming a regular busker at New York’s South Street Seaport. Then, in 1989, he landed a contract with the Big Apple Circus, where he was featured in its production of Grandma Goes West.
From there, César entered quite a successful career as a silent clown in prominent circuses and shows in the United States, and eventually became a regular feature at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida— where he settled with his wife Linda, and their son, Markus. In 1992, he returned to the Big Apple Circus, where he was featured in Goin’ Places.
In 1997, he wrote, produced and starred in The Flight of the Condor, a Native South American-themed show that was presented for several seasons at SeaWorld, in Orlando, Florida, before touring extensively in the United States and abroad—including his native Peru. César also performed in his own one-man show, Don Cesar City, and has appeared in several television shows in Europe and the Americas. In 2009, he directed another spectacular production, Parkautempu, at the Teatro Kusikay in Lima, Peru.
- Video: César Aedo, "Statue of Liberty" entrée, in the Big Apple Circus production of Grandma Goes West (1989)
- Video: César Aedo, Suitcase reprise, in the Big Apple Circus production of Grandma Goes West (1989)
- Video: César Aedo, Tennis Match entrée, in the Big Apple Circus production of Goin' Places (1992)