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December 06th, 2021

richard renner spotlight pageSlapstick clown Richard Renner prepares a trick during a past show. Renner will be performing at this year’s 5-State Fair. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


This year’s 5-State Fair will be full of activities and shows for people to attend, and one of those performers will be slapstick circus clown Richard Renner. 

Renner will be performing at 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20 on the Seward County Activity Center stage, and will also perform at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 on the Seward County Activity Center stage. As Renner tells it, his bite from the performing bug came in high school. 

“I became interested in theatre in high school after I broke my arm playing football, and I found theatre to be much less physically hazardous,” Renner said with a laugh. “So I started participating in the school plays while in high school and continued doing that in college at KU and somewhere along the line, I learned how to juggle, which actually took quite a bit of time. I had seen some street jugglers and became fascinated by what they were doing, and I realized that was something I could learn too. After I finished school, I started trying to get as a professional actor, which is actually rather difficult in Kansas – typically, you'd have to go to L.A. or somewhere else in order to try for any success.”

While ultimately not ending up in L.A., Renner said he did discover something else. 

“I did find I was a pretty good street performer and I knew how to read a crowd, so I did some more training, during which I got a lot of great advice from my teachers, who included Marcel Marceau, who’s a wonderful French mime master, Yuri Belov, who’s a famous Russian clown, and Avner the Eccentric, who’s a very well known and famous New Vaudevillian. After all of that, I eventually started Vodvill Entertainment Company. A lot of my comedy is inspired by vaudeville comedians, the Marx Brothers and Jerry Lewis and Red Skelton, those comedians who were amazing at getting into character and using that to be funny, so a lot of my show also appeals to adults. A lot of children who attend my shows often think I look somewhat like Spongebob because I wear a bright yellow shirt.”

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Many people have also remarked positively about Renner’s past performances. 

“Mr. Renner is a versatile entertainer who knows how to work a crowd. His performance is clever, funny and refreshing,” a review from Julie Payne with the Denver Childrens Museum on Renner’s Web site noted. “He has a way of making juggling and unicycling as if they are second nature to him. I find it hard to remember that Richard's show is done in silence, with the exception of a brilliantly executed kazoo segment, because of his incredible ability to communicate with the audience."

"From the first telephone contact to the last curtain call, Richard Renner The VodVill Klown, was the consummate professional entertainer,” a review from Robert Logan the director of the Walker Arts Center in Garnett on Renner’s Web site noted. “No matter the conditions or circumstances, his presentations were creative and entertaining. Richard’s day in Garnett was most inspirational to many.”

With his hometown being in Western Kansas, Renner said he is excited to be a performer at this year’s fair. 

“I always enjoy being out in Western Kansas, I actually grew up close to Hays near my grandparents' farm, so I feel like I know the area and know the people out there pretty well. I also always enjoyed the smell and look of the wheat growing in the fields and I remember how hot it could get in July in that area,” Renner said. “So Western Kansas is where I feel most at home with my audiences. It feels great being able to perform at the fair, I always enjoy performing out there. I'm looking forward to seeing the crowds out there and seeing the different reactions to all my different bits throughout the show.”

Renner added his audiences can expect to laugh a lot during his shows. 

“I always tell my younger audience members, it's a great opportunity to watch an adult acting foolish for once without suffering any consequences,” Renner said. “It's a silent show, but the audience will understand everything that's going on through the physical movements and my facial expressions, it's all extremely silly. All of my props serve a silly purpose and each have an important role in all my bits. I'll also be rolling on the ground a couple times, and I'll be traveling around the fair with my RecycleCycle, which is a pedal car I created that's meant to resemble a clown car, and that's always gotten a good reaction from people I've seen.”

Overall, Renner said, he is ready to make people laugh when people see him at the 5-State Fair. 

“I'm really excited to be performing at the 5-State Fair there in Liberal this year, I think everyone young and old who comes to my shows will end up having a great time,” Renner said. “And that's what I want, I want people to laugh and have a good time watching me make a fool of myself for their entertainment.”

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