COMEDY RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Father-and-Son Duo Loves Clowning Around at Rodeos
Written by: Kathy Ann Gregg
While spectators attend rodeos for the thrills of the roughstock and the skills of the ropers and riders, it is the comedy acts that are the glue of these action-packed events. The rodeo clowns poke fun at politicians—of different parties—and family members, especially their mothers-in-law!
And Cliff Harris and his son, Brinson James Harris, have made it a family business. Cliff had performed as “Hollywood Harris” for more than a decade, starting in 1984, when he introduced his son to the spotlight. The pair then became known as “Hollywood and Boogerhead.”
Like many of his colleagues, Cliff got his start in rodeo as a roughstock rider in high school. But rather than bulls, he rode bareback and saddlebronc. In fact, he was proficient enough at those two events that he attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, on a rodeo scholarship.
He’d always dreamed of being a rodeo clown and patterned himself after some of the sport’s greatest acts. Cliff started out with the International Finals Rodeo, where he has performed as both comedy act and barrel clown. And at the IFR Contract Act Show in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, he won a record six events, including Comedy Act, Dress Act, and the Barrelman Competition.
He then moved over to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The Professional Bull Riders Inc. organization liked his knack for “being in the right place at the right time” in the arena to protect the bull riders. This resulted in a longstanding relationship with the PBR—and “Hollywood and Boogerhead” found themselves entertaining rodeo audiences throughout Canada, as well as around the United States.
Venues in Florida where you may have enjoyed “Hollywood and Boogerhead’s” brand of comedy are the PRCA pro-rodeos in Ocala and the PeeWee Mercer’s Benefit Bullriding event in Williston, both near their hometown of Micanopy. The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo sported the duo at events while it was at the old Heard Street Arena. “Hollywood and Boogerhead” entertained during several of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association Ranch Rodeo Finals & Cowboy Heritage Festivals at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
The year 2011 caused a major upset for Cliff. In early September of that year, “Hollywood and Boogerhead” were performing at a Boston-area rodeo when a bull hung its horn in Cliff’s clown pants. Cliff hung suspended for almost a full minute and suffered a broken leg, which eliminated him from further performances.
With a year’s worth of contracts hanging in the balance, Cliff convinced the venues to let 17-year-old “Boogerhead” take over. He emerged from this process as “Brinson James, the Entertainer,” which is how he currently bills himself. And Brinson James had just trained himself in the art of trick roping, which enhanced his already popular routines.
Brinson James has continued the family relationship with the PBR, including PBR International, which has seen him entertaining rodeo audiences in Australia, in addition to the United States and Canada. Brinson James has a deep love of rodeo—so performing annually at more than 45 such events is a dream come true for him.
When asked what their favorite venue is, the father-and-son duo agrees that the famous Calgary Stampede ranks on top, as does the lesser-known event at St. Tite, Quebec. (“Now they really know how to party!” is how they describe it.)
Being a master at the craft of clowning comes easily when you’re a child at heart yourself. That’s certainly a family trait for Cliff “Hollywood” Harris and his son, “Brinson James, the Entertainer.”