Clowns celebrate Russian comic master Nikulin


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Saint Petersburg (AFP) – Award-winning comics on Sunday showcased the art of clowning and deception by honoring Russia’s brightest circus star Yuri Nikulin, who would have turned 100 this weekend.

At a gala in St. Petersburg’s second city, performers from various countries including Russia, Italy, Brazil and Mexico delighted audiences with sketches and animal acts featuring poodles and a goose.

The performance closed a four-day festival dubbed “The World’s Best Clowns”, dedicated to beloved Russian clown and actor Nikulin, who would have turned 100 on Saturday.

David Larible, a prominent Italian artist who took part in the festival, said clowns around the world knew and remembered Nikulin.

“He’s a master, he’s our father, he’s a magnificent artist,” Larible told AFP.

Under the Soviet Union, the circus was one of the most expensive institutions in the country.

Known for his iconic sailor cap, cropped pants and warmth, Nikulin has become a cultural icon entertaining Russians for decades.

He starred in iconic Soviet comedies, but was also known for his dramatic talent.

When the legendary comedian died in 1997, Boris Yeltsin, then President of Russia, addressed the nation in a televised address, saying the country was in mourning.

“We are all orphaned today,” Yeltsin said at the time.