Arts and Entertainment

Clowning around on Vashon: A duo offers their own take on comedy

Molly Shannon and Luz Gaxiola will perform Friday night. - Courtesy Photo
Molly Shannon and Luz Gaxiola will perform Friday night.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

A new vaudeville show, “Big Time and Little Something’s Big Adventure,” will bring live music, slapstick comedy, eccentric dance and circus antics to Vashon this Friday night.

The show is being presented by Islander Luz Gaxiola and San Francisco native Molly Shannon, who are members of Circus Finelli, an all-women clown troupe based in San Francisco.

The group started when the four women met as students at the San Francisco Clown Conservatory in 2005 and formed an ensemble, naming it after their beloved teacher Judy Finelli. Since then, Circus Finelli has performed in San Francisco as well as Europe and Latin America.

“Big Time and Little Something’s Big Adventure” will unfold in the troupe’s signature style of irreverent and bright multilingual circus comedy. It’s a show for all ages, though not specifically for children, Gaxiola said.

“It’s really cartoony,” she said, adding that there was a bit of sexual innuendo included in the show.

“Big Time and Little Something” tells the story of a pair of clueless opportunists who journey to the West Coast to seek their glory and fortune in the movie business. Big Time (Gaxiola) is the boss, a voluptuous schemer wielding an accordion and a tuba. Little Something (Shannon) is the bright-eyed follower, the last remaining chorus girl who hasn’t fled from Big Time’s doomed entertainment empire. She’s slow-witted and fancy-footed and dazzled just to be along for the ride.

Inspiration for the show and the characters, said Gaxiola, came from  “great classic comedy pairs like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Burns and Allen.”

Gaxiola is Circus Finelli’s musical director. She plays a multitude of instruments, most notably the accordion — a skill that won her a place on the West Coast Accordion Babes Calendar. Some Islanders may remember seeing her in this year’s Strawberry Festival parade, dressed as a viking and playing accordion while balancing on a rolla bolla. Two summers ago, she completed one of her life-long dreams of swimming around Vashon Island.

Shannon is Circus Finelli’s choreographer, specializing in samba and eccentric dance. Aside from performing with Circus Finelli, she dances samba with “Aquarela,” the Bay Area’s premiere Brazilian Dance Ensemble.

Together, the pair debuted “Big Time and Little Something” in June in San Francisco, and hope to tour with it internationally.


The show will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday at Chautauqua Elementary School. Tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for children, are available at www.brownpapertickets and at the door. For more information, visit


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