michael jay garner headshot


Michael Jay Garner started his performing career like many who pursue this type of work: by accident. He received a BA in Psychology from Emory University, where he also learned how to juggle, play various musical instruments, and find comfort and joy playing on stage as a four-year cast member of the nation’s oldest college improv troupe. After college, Michael worked in the corporate world, but took many side gigs as a performer. And while preparing an audition piece for The Big Apple Circus, he realized that by assembling this random assortment of skills, he had inadvertently been training to be a clown for ten years without even realizing it. Since then, Michael’s life has been a swirling vortex of clowning and circus arts — from working as a healthcare clown with The Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit, to being the Resident Clown at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp, a children’s medical camp founded by Paul Newman. He has also toured internationally with Britney Spears on her Circus World Tour and with Cirque du Soleil, playing the Handyman clown in KOOZÅ. Michael is also incredibly proud to have worked with Cirque du Monde, an outreach program of Cirque du Soleil that teaches circus arts to at-risk and underserved youth. He is currently the Creative Director of Beyond Recreation, a summer camp consultation and staff training company he founded with his brilliant wife, Anne Henningfeld.