By Dominique Jando
Barry Lubin was born July 3, 1952 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the son of Edythe Weinberg Lubin, a homemaker, and George Simon Lubin, an audiovisual engineer. Barry nurtured hopes of becoming a movie director, but the political turmoil of the late sixties/early seventies changed his life's direction—as indeed it did for many disappointed youths at the time. A friend of Barry's had applied for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, a rather new, and definitely offbeat learning institution, and Barry decided to go along and audition with him. To his surprise, he was among the 48 applicants that were accepted that year (along with Bill Irwin, and Barry's occasional partner, Dick Monday). After 16 weeks of training, Barry graduated and was hired by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: the college was in effect a training program for the show's Clown Alley, and principally taught its students how to become a "Ringling clownGeneric term for all clowns and augustes. '''Specific:''' In Europe, the elegant, whiteface character who plays the role of the straight man to the Auguste in a clown team.," able to work efficiently in the specific context of The Greatest Show On Earth.
The character of Grandma, Barry's celebrated clown persona, was created at Clown College: Not strong on physical skills, Barry had to come up with a character that could standout by itself for the graduation show; the "little old ladies" that strolled the boardwalk in Atlantic City—including his own grandmother—provided an momentous inspiration. Thus, Grandma made her debut in 1974 on The Greatest Show On Earth, where Barry performed until 1979 in both Blue and Red units. In 1977, he was invited to participate in the 4th [International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo], an experience that was not a success, but gave him a first taste of the traditional one-ring format, a very different setting for a clownGeneric term for all clowns and augustes. '''Specific:''' In Europe, the elegant, whiteface character who plays the role of the straight man to the Auguste in a clown team..
From 1980-1982, Barry teamed-up with Dick Monday; together they created and performed variety comedy shows: A Couple Guys Who Gotta Do A Show (Los Angeles) and Pass The Popcorn (Off-Broadway, New York City). Then in 1982, Barry joined the burgeoning Big Apple Circus, where, over the years, Grandma would become the iconic image of the celebrated New York-based one-ring circus. Since 2001, he has also been the show's Director of Clowning.
Barry was featured in the movies Big Top Pee-Wee and My Life, and has appeared in several TV shows, including four appearances on the Late Show With David Letterman. His directorial credits include comedy segments for music videos on MTV, the Snappy Dance Company in Boston, and CBS's Circus of the Stars. He was also a creative consultant for NBC's long-running sitcom, Cheers. His proudest accomplishment, however, is a headstand on a whoopee-cushion on the illustrious stage of Carnegie Hall in New York.
Barry has been featured at Circus Kronebau (www.circus-krone.de), in Munich, Germany (2007), and has participated in the 2006 International Circus Festival of Budapest (www.maciva.hu) (Moscow's Bolshoi Circus Award) and in the 2008 International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo (www.montecarlofestivals.com) (Bellini Award). He was inducted in the International Clown Hall of Fame (www.theclownmuseum.org) in 2002, and was presented the first Lou Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award by ClownAlley.net (www.clownalley.net) in 2007.