Bill Irwin (born William Mills Irwin) is a graduate of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College. He reintroduced good old fashioned vaudeville to Broadway (bottomless trunks, fights with recalcitrant microphones and tugs of war with imaginary vacuum cleaners) in “Fool Moon” – a crowd-pleasing show created and performed with fellow fooler David Shiner. In similiar garb (floppy top hat, oversized tuxedo) he created the popular character Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street’s Elmo’s World. Irwin has also expertly expanded his reportoire to include dramatic plays (The Tempest, Waiting for Godot, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for which he won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor), TV series (CSI, The Cosby Show, Law & Order, 3rd Rock from the Sun), and films (Rachel Getting Married, Popeye, Eight Men Out). He was the first performer to receive the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.
When performing as a clown, Irwin is silent. However, he also enjoys reading aloud: his voice is heard on the sound recording of “Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald”, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Welcome to the Monkey House, and Nick Hornby’s “Juliet, Naked.”