JP Patches Place, Seattle

Honestly, I’ve been in Seattle for a good long while and I never realized that local clown celebrity, JP Patches, had his very own monument in Fremont. Of course, Fremont also has a statue of Lenin and a non-functional rocket, so maybe it’s not so weird after all. (Fremont neighborhood prides itself in its weirdness.)

For younger fans, JP Patches is quite famous for being one of the inspirations behind the Simpsons’ Krusty the Klown. He would do skits with Gerturde, his Sideshow Bob like sidekick, on local morning telecasts. JP Patches is also one of the biggest inspirations to the local clowns in the area. I didn’t grow up in Seattle, so I don’t have the same sense of nostalgia. When I talked to many of the clowns here, though, he is definitely the one most cited as an inspiration. One older clown boasted how he was one of Patches’ Pals, his voice catching the same amount of pride as if he’d won a Medal of Honor.

I caught some of the shows on YouTube, and you can definitely see the same attitude that would influence Krusty. The skits definitely have a bit of a sardonic edge to them — not mean spirited, but definitely things you can almost read between the lines. JP Patches almost always seems to be eye-rolling at the weirdness around him (which include a giggling doll and a cross-dressing pal). There was definitely some fourth-wall breaking humor, too, such as when a take would go on too long and JP Patches would start looking around like he was wondering what was going on, or when he directly addressed an off-screen announcer for sleeping on the job.

Was it a parody of other more famous clown shows like Bozo the Clown? I have no idea, since I didn’t grow up with him. Still, that same layer of smirking mischief is something I see in many clowns I’ve met in the Emerald City.