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A Thousand Clowns
Herb Gardner
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A Thousand Clowns

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  19 reviews

Herb Gardner


Characters: 4 male, 1 female, 12 year-old boy

2 Interior scenes

This benchmark of Broadway comedy produced one of the theatre's most beloved roles: unconventional Murray, uncle to precocious nephew, Nick. Tired of writing cheap comedy gags for "Chipper the Chipmunk," a children's television star, Murray finds himself unemployed with plenty of free time

Paperback, 126 pages
Published March 31st 1983 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1962)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  152 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably one of my favorite all-time plays because of the sardonic, whimsical, pseudo-absurdist humor pervasive throughout. There's a little Kip Bledsoe in Murray Burns. ...more
Ashley Marie
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Have read this multiple times now. Beautiful script. Lucky to work on it alongside a fantastic cast.
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the movie, amateur thespians, drama teachers
Recommended to Michael by: TV Guide
Shelves: drama
The 1965 movie-version of this play has been important to me ever since I caught it on late-night TV back in my late adolescence, but I only knew vaguely that it was based on a stage performance. When I stumbled across this edition of the play, which includes photos of the original Broadway cast, in the library where I work, I couldn’t resist taking it home and reading it.

First, that cast. For the most part, it’s the same as the cast of the movie, which is probably part of why they perform so w
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sophomore-year, plays
This is not actually about clowns; the title refers to a line in the play. I found this when I was looking for a monologue for Theatre I. I have since seen the movie (from the '60s) a few times on TCM, and it is truly a hidden gem. ...more
Jessica Whittemore
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This play seems like it was written by someone named, "Herb" hahaha. It is sweet and funny. I would love to see actors bring Murray and Nick and Sandra and Leo to life-- I'll bet that's a lot of fun to watch. This play is about the family you choose and not everything is explained in the text and that's great-- again, what a wonderful acting opportunity. Made me laugh, lots of good monologs. ...more
Brian McCann
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this old chestnut.

Act III is a little too prolonged though it's nice to see that the boy's character has done arc to it.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a hilarious play. The wit is razor sharp. You have to see this performed by Jason Robards, Barry Gordon, Barbara Harris and Martin Balsam.
Emmet Matheson
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yes sir, that's my baby. ...more
Bobby Sullivan
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Didn't care for this one. The dialogue seemed like a pale imitation of Neil Simon, like Gardner was using castoff Simon jokes. ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
A welcome comedy in the midst of some intense reading this year (actually, in the midst of an intense year full stop).
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
hilarious and I love it. An example of genius comedic pacing and double entendre
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I know this is supposed to be a comedy, but I did not find it amusing. A 12-year old boy is about to be placed in foster care if his uncle does not stop being a "character" and constantly making jokes. All the uncle needs to do is find a stable job. He does not want to surrender and work for an idiot who does a children's show, but why doesn't he look for something else? I personally found the situation to be sad, not funny. Cannot recommend. Kristi & Abby Tabby ...more
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“You are not a person, Mr. Burns. You are an experience!”

A Thousand Clowns is a thousand laughs. The amusingly eccentric lifestyle and dialogue of the nonconformist unemployed Murray Burns, who shouts his grievances to New York from his apartment window, makes this play truly wonderful. I was first introduced to the story I was kid through the film version starring Jason Robards, Jr. I loved it then. And now having finally read the play, I think I love it even more.

The story’s rather simple—a m
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
I have fond memories of seeing this play when I was in high school and wanted to read it again to see if it measured up. I'm still not entirely sure what the moral is, but I'll be chewing on it for a while. ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It doesn't get any better than this! ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, 2016
Would be interested in seeing film version as many people say it's really good. ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Maybe it's just me, but this is one of the saddest "comedies" ever. I'm generally in favor of eccentric uncles, but Murray seems bitter to me. ...more
Betty O
Dec 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
This is another play that was made into a movie (Jason Robard, I think was the main charachter. Brilliant.
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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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