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Grock, King of Clowns P3

Sometimes when the famous Swiss clown Grock would talk to people, he would simply reply “Why?” to everything they said.

Grock, King of Clowns is his absorbing 1956 memoir. He was famous for walking onto the centre ring with a large trunk. He’d open the trunk and take out a tiny violin which he’d play. 

Karl Adrien Wettach performed in the great circuses of Europe as Grock. He talked about how he came up with some of his circus gags. One time he was sitting at a piano in the sawdust centre ring. Instead of pulling the stool closer to the piano, he pulled the piano closer to him. The audience laughed. When he looked up in surprise, they laughed even more. So it became a part of his act.

In his later years, he spent a lot of time gardening at his castle in Italy. He relates how he was dressed in his gardening clothes when a party of tourists stopped outside:

Then I was hailed in German. “Can you tell me, please, if Herr Grock is at home? We are tourists from Germany and would very much like to pay him a call.”

“It’s out of the question, I’m afraid. Herr Grock is resting.”

They took me for the gardener and went on regretfully: “Oh, what a pity. But couldn’t we just see over the park — it looks lovely.”

They seemed like nice people and why shouldn’t they see the garden, of which I was very proud?

“I might do that for you. He wouldn’t mind, I’m sure.”

So I acted as guide and took them all over the grounds. It gave me just as much pleasure to listen to their enthusiastic exclamations as it gave them to see Grock’s garden, and when the tour ended at the gate, one of them put two thousand lire into my hand…

Grock goes on to say the real gardener showed up and Grock had him show the visitors out. 

He writes: Later on my gardener told me that he had let on who it was who had shown them the garden, whereupon one of the ladies of the party repeatedly wailed, “And I never gave one look at his face!” She was inconsolable.

-see Grock, King of Clowns. Published by Methuen.