David Shiner is an American actor, clown, playwright and theater director.
Shiner was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Francis Shiner, a computer programmer, and a homemaker mother. The lanky Shiner, usually donning a small dunce cap, started as a street mime, first in Colorado, and later in France and Germany. He managed to get multiple gigs with various circuses, including performances with the German Circus Roncalli and the Swiss National Circus. In between he toured performing a dual act with RenÃ© Bazinet.
From 1990 he was featured in Cirque du Soleil's production Nouvelle ExpÃ©rience, touring for 19 months through Canada and the USA and playing for another year in Las Vegas. With his antics, including stepping through, on and over much of the crowd and the staging of a mock silent-movie melodrama with four members of the audience, he may be the best-remembered of the Cirque's clowns. In 1995, he also starred in Man of the House, alongside Chevy Chase and Jonathan Taylor Thomas, playing Lloyd Small.
The production was filmed for HBO and Shiner's popularity rendered him film roles as a clown in Lorenzo's Oil and as straight man to Bill Irwin in Sam Shepard's Silent Tongue. He and Irwin then created the two-man, wordless show Fool Moon, featuring music by the Red Clay Ramblers, which had also performed in Silent Tongue. This "evening of inspired lunacy" ran from 1992 to 1999, including three separate runs at Broadway. The show won a special Tony for "Live Theatrical Presentation" in 1999, a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, and an Outer Critics Circle "Special Achievement" Award.