Bello Nock was born to clown around

Chris Bergeron

Bello Nock was a born clown. Born Demetrius Alexandro Claudio Amadeus Bello Nock in Sarasota, Fla., he’s a seventh-generation descendant of the family that founded Circus Nock in Switzerland in the 1700s.

Named by Time magazine as “America’s best clown,” the 42-year-old married father of three earns his pay these days just being himself in the namesake “Bello Is Back,” a fun, action-packed production of the Big Apple Circus.

An American of Swiss and Italian ancestry, he insisted he is “not a stereotypical clown or a stereotypical daredevil.”

“It’s funny because I make people laugh and the word ‘clown’ is the first thing that comes to their minds,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a clown. I’m a comedian. I love making people laugh.” Nock’s been doing just that most of his life.

At the age of 3, he played the baby in a burning house in “Dumbo’s Circus.” At the ripe age of 6, he played Michael Darling opposite Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan.” Nock had his first circus job at 15, traveling around the world with his family’s circus, the Nerveless Nocks.

After time with a Mexican circus, he performed with the Big Apple Circus in 2000 and 2001 and then joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus, where he spent nine years as its star attraction.

Nock said he rejoined the Big Apple Circus because “the intimate setting is really a lot of fun.” For nearly two hours, he plays the accident-prone court jester in a baggy tux who bumbles into other performers’ acts, inducing comedic chaos and lots of laughs.

Coattails flapping, he interrupts jugglers and horse trainers, acrobats and dancing dogs. He’s a skillful acrobat, a deadpan mime and a master of slapstick whose signature 10-inch-high orange hair never seems to get messed up.

Representing the eighth generation in the family business, his 14-year-old daughter Annaliese performs as an aerialist and acrobat in the Boston production. His son, Alexander, 20, works behind the scenes. And Nock’s wife Jennifer and 16-year-old daughter Amariah manage his wardrobe.

A student of history’s great clowns, Nock described himself as a madcap amalgam of Harpo Marx and Evel Knievel, Jackie Chan and Jim Carrey with a little Robin Williams thrown in.

“I do things (illusionist) David Blaine could only dream of,” he said.

Asked about his signature reddish-orange hair, Nock said, “I’ve worn it that way since I was 11 years old. ... I’ve got Viagra in my shampoo. And I use a little Kenra hair spray, no gel, no mousse. It has a life of its own, like my mood."

MetroWest Daily News