It’s the season for Pennywise, Twisty the Clown, and Captain Spaulding, but there’s a new clown in town. And even coulrophobics can’t help falling in love with Clownvis Presley.
Mike Leahy, the man behind the big red nose, gained recognition in psychobilly and rockabilly circuits while fronting the St. Louis band 7 Shot Screamers. Leahy formed the group with bassist Chris Powers while the two were still in high school, blending rockabilly with glam rock sensibilities. The act established Leahy as an animated and magnetic frontman.
Over time, Leahy began to hone an Elvis impersonation like no other. In white face paint with red and blue arched eyebrows, cherry-red circled cheeks, and a sky-high pompadour, Clownvis was born. “The King of the Clowns” began making appearances throughout L.A., working the comedy circuit, performing magic tricks and cover songs in his best Elvis voice through a Vegas strip-inspired act.
In 2011, Leahy took Clownvis to Season 5 of the competition show America’s Got Talent. Alongside a bodyguard and mentor, Clownvis took the stage clad in his signature blue suit. As he broke out a few magic tricks and belted the first “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” the judges began sounding off. As the judges dug into him, Clownvis served it right back, reading Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel to filth and trolling audiences in the AGT seats and at home.
The experience landed Clownvis on some “worst audition” YouTube reels, but true fans stood by his side and supported him as he ventured into new territory.
Clownvis’s original songs, like the holiday spiritual “Jesus Christ Eatin’ on a Chicken Wing,” the “Monsteranto”-praising “I Want My GMOs,” and “The Cursive Song,” which features Neil Hamburger, Emily Marilyn, and Nikki Limo, combine traditional Elvis stylings with absurdist humor and Tim & Eric-style psychedelic visuals. “Barack O’s Tacos” inexplicably pushes a fictional taco restaurant chain created by Barack Obama, touting the tagline “taste the change.”
The Clownvis Christmas Special was a delightfully absurd seasonal romp released via his YouTube channel in 2013. Throughout the show, Clownvis sings, runs a telethon for “scientific research,” tells a story of estranged father-son relationships, and learns the true meaning of Christmas.
Clownvis is also a self-professed Will Smith fan and honored his hero with “Fresh Prince in the Ghetto,” a fusion of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song and Elvis’s “In The Ghetto.”
Throughout the years, that America’s Got Talent audition paid off—Clownvis has made special appearances on Comedy Central, The Tom Green Show, Playboy Radio, Sirius XM, and more. He’s performed with the likes of Sarah Silverman, Margaret Cho, Drew Carey, David Spade, Tim Heidecker, and Bob Odenkirk, among others. He’s also pals with “The Kang” himself, Unknown Hinson, and has performed with McDonald’s-themed Black Sabbath tribute band Mac Sabbath, singing alongside fellow clown Ronald Osbourne.
Clownvis performs solo when he takes his show on the road, and his Jinx appearance is sure to be an all-encompassing experience of the senses. He arrives in Savannah fresh off a tour with Neil Hamburger and Tim Heidecker and, after his Jinx show, heads to the big annual punk rock weekend The Fest in Gainesville.
The King of the Clowns continues to rise to the top. If you’ve been talking about getting out on the town for some live entertainment, how ‘bout a little less conversation and a little more action this week?